Company culture can best be described as the environment or ambiance created by a team of employees within a company. As many authors have noted, this culture is not something you should leave to chance but should plan for and actively work to create. The type of culture you as a founder or CEO wish to create must be something that keeps your team inspired and functioning as efficiently as possible. But there are other elements too. This culture should inspire and allow for your team members to take risks. Without taking risks little progress can be made. Inspiring a culture where team members feel empowered to explore, create, make bold desicions and work at their peak performance level should be a core component of any strong company culture. So just how can you go about producing this… let’s find out.
Surveying the scene
At 500.co, Louise Fritjofsson explains that company culture must be designed, not left to chance. To do so, you as the business owner must assess how communication within your business works. Is communication, fun, light, done via email or messenger, is inter-company communication transparent or private? These types of questions she explains are where your design ideas and planning will stem from. Ask yourself if your team often goes to events together, eats together, or do they remain quite distant even within the workplace? Finally assess your own priorities as a business owner, what company culture elements do you think will bring greater value to your business? Once you have answered these questions you can self-analyze and see where elements can be tweaked or changed, and what elements you would like to keep in place or strengthen. Remember that a strong company culture creates a place where workers enjoy well, working!
If you are the founder or CEO of a small business, you may find it difficult to give perks early on. Once established though, it is important to remember that a little goes a long way. Making sure your employees feel cared for and that their personal well-being is not just their priority but yours too will certainly play a key factor in creating the company culture you want. Even as a start-up it is important to give employee perks in any way you can. Even if it means a free lunch once a week, or a paid company outing, these little acts make a world of difference and set your start-up apart from the competition. These types of perks not only show that you value your employees, but also these moments allow for bonding between staff members, creating a stronger more cohesive community in the process.
Perks can also be points that draw in new applicants to your growing team. These little acts of kindness make your company culture a draw to outsides, bringing better talent onto your radar. Think of some of the largest companies on the planet right now! These companies provide tons of perks for their staff, in return their staff love the company, work harder, and see themselves as part of a cohesive team.
Do not rely completely on perks to do the trick though. Company culture is deeper than just perks and must be maintained actively by you as the designer and shaper of the company culture.
Communication is key!
As is the case with any strong relationship, make sure your team feels they can communicate openly and honestly about any problems they are dealing with. This is especially important in small teams where the team moral can be shifted by the attitude of a single person. As the founder and leader of your team it is up to you to set this premise. This ties in closely to assessing how your team communicates best. If all your communication is done transparently it might be a good idea to take the time to communicate one-on-one with a team member who you identify to be struggling or who comes to you with an issue. Communicating consistently and openly with your team will also mean that as a company leader you are highly attuned to the environment of your business; strengthening your company culture in the process by continuing to be an integral part of it.
Keep it unique
When hiring new employees many of the top entrepreneurs and CEOs explain that hiring to create a team with varied skills, interests, and focuses will create a more unique company culture. Imagine if all you hired were carbon copies of the same person…your team would be boring! You want to create a team where every individual brings something different to the table. Yet as the shaper of company culture, you must also make sure that the character of each individual complements one another. A team of all extroverts might be overwhelming. It is important therefore to analyze future employees not only by their CV, but also in relation to their character and how their personality will fit in with your current team. Hiring individuals who stand out from the crowd and bring something new to your team will create a unique and varied workforce and contribute to the success of your brand, company culture, and subsequently employee satisfaction.
Both Louise Fritjofsson and Jeffrey Hayzlett explain that cultural ambassadors or those who carry and contribute to the culture of the office can be integral to the success of the culture you have designed and seek to execute. If a cultural ambassador does not exist within your team, it should be a part of your hiring strategy to position someone as the ambassador to create, develop and maintain the culture you have set in place for your company. This team member is the cheerleader for your message and the team captain in propelling your culture forward.
What can company culture do for you?
Let’s bring it all together. The best company culture is one where you as the leader and founder are part of the culture and active in designing and seeing it through to fruition. A strong and inclusive company culture should be premised upon good communication, a team with varied strengths and personalities, and one where members are happy to work because they are shown their value to the success of the company. As the founder, it is your responsibility to further enhance this culture by listening and remaining attuned to the needs of your employees and finally by giving whatever small benefits or perks you can feasibly offer. These building blocks will set the stage for creating a great company culture where your employees not only work efficiently but also value the success of the enterprise as much as you do!
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