Company culture is not something that can be paused, it’s always happening in the background and it always will.
If you are managing a business, you probably already have a squillion things on your mind and you’re probably already resenting us for adding another thing on your to-do list BUT the truth is: you should do your best to try and get a grasp on your company culture because it will help you in more ways than you think, to name a few:
- Create team cohesion and ultimately lead to increased productivity
- Inspire people to go above and beyond and create employee loyalty
- Gradually create a competitive advantage and give substance to your brand
- Make work life generally easier and funner on a day-to-day basis
So here are a few things that will get you started:
Start with “Why”
To quote Simon Sinek, a management leadership author, you need to ask yourself: “what’s your purpose, what’s your cause, what’s your belief?”
He believes that people don’t buy products because of how you make them but why you make them. Consumers are increasingly looking for inspiration in every aspect of their life including in the products they buy.
Company vision then becomes the differentiating factor in an increasingly competitive landscape.
If you’re having issues thinking about this yourself, then get other people involved. Call a meeting, sit your co-workers down, pause and say: “why are we in this business, what’s our purpose”.
After someone will have answered “to make money”, quietly nod and wait for more answers. Don’t leave the room until you have found your purpose
Embed your values on the company wall
Once you’ll have established your “Why” statement, have a think about the values that accompany it. If you’re just starting out, we recommend you involve other people in this.
Company values are the framework to which you operationalise your company vision but made easy for your employees to remember. They are essentially the equivalent of the 10 Commandments but in a business context.
Whenever someone hits a wall and doesn’t know how to solve a problem, they should be able to look at your values and go: “ok, I know what I have to do now”. Additionally your values are the central reference point in managing and motivating the team; how everyone acts in every situation should be in line with your values.
This why we highly encourage you to communicate and repeat these values as often as possible. It should be the 1st thing your employees are told when starting out and they should be able to know them by heart. So make them simple and make them honest. Make them you.
Hire the right people
The reason why companies have culture is because companies are made of people. You can’t simplify company culture to represent the sum total of employees’ personalities, but hiring the right people is essential to maintaining a positive company culture.
It doesn’t mean everybody has to be the same, far from it. If anything I encourage you to hire people from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities because diversity means richness. It means different perspectives. Moreover, managers and businesses owners should try to hire people smarter than them.
However, you need to hire people that share your vision. Sure, degrees and experience are necessary but too many recruiters overlook profiles and personalities. And whereas skills can be taught, character cannot.
I’m not talking about anything involving goats or voodoo here. Just simple basic rituals people can rely on. People like habits, people like structure and people like people. So try to make your environment fun and collaborative by implementing rituals such as:
- Monday huddles to set priorities for the week
- Ringing a bell when something cool happens
- Friday drinks
- Team lunches
Set up Slack
Slack is a real-time messaging system similar to skype or google chat but it’s got a ton of features that encourage employee collaboration and communication.
You can create dedicated channels for specific departments which people can use as a substitute for emails or useless meetings so it’s a great productivity tool but you can also set up general channels for random thoughts or exchanges.
People will use it to communicate their successes and challenges at work but overtime they’ll also use it to talk about cool events, expos or parties. You’d think that’s a bad thing but it’s actually not.
People aren’t robots programmed to work. If you can get your employees to talk to each other and like each other, then you know you’re on the right track.
Crank up the music
Ok so I know this is a debatable one. Music in the office isn’t always to everybody’s liking and I can understand why. However most people would probably prefer to have it than to not.
Let people request specific songs or even have a round robin system of employees taking charge of the music playlist.
Any bar or shop owner will tell you that having the proper music at the proper time at the proper volume is essential to creating an enjoyable atmosphere.
Of course, you’ll need to keep an eye on it to make sure no one is playing german dubstep at 200 decibels on a Monday morning, but overall I’m positive music more often makes rather than breaks an atmosphere.
Look out for common references
Every family has a set of common references that are accumulated overtime. They usually come from films, tv shows or just things that happen in real-life: private jokes if you will.
Put people together long enough in a closed environment and they will necessarily overtime develop their own set of common references and private jokes.
Everyone likes a good laugh every now and then. There isn’t a doctor in the world that will tell you laughing is not good for you. and that same truth applies to work. Laughter improves cohesion and communication between people so why not encourage it?
Validation and recognition
Everyone whether they admit it or not likes to be told they have done a good job. So one of the most important things you can do as a leader to reinforce a great company culture is to foster a culture where people are recognised for their work. Simply saying, “you did a great job on this project”’ or “well done, you handled. that well” can go so far and do more value than monetary rewards. Remind people when they have done something inline with your values and encourage everyone to recognise good work across teams. This creates cohesion and also complete engagement. Remember people don’t leave companies, they leave people.