Every CEO or founder has a different vision of definition of what makes a company culture great. Every CEO or founder will also express this in different ways which are reflected through company culture and leadership styles. When you’re first starting a company it’s crucial to focus on your values and goals as a company and build something great and everlasting.
As your company grows you culture can stretch and nurture employees to grow as well. It can also have the opposite effect and cause employees to miss the mark or behave in a way of uncertainty.
It’s vital to define the guiding principles for your culture early on. When your headcount is smaller it’s much easier to tackle issues and communicate through everything. There are fewer politics and communication is more direct.
When culture is determined early on it can also help you hire better and smarter. Your company culture sets the tone for why future employees want to work there, what drives your individuals? It also helps your team and leaders weather storms that will come with any business. Personnel changes, big losses, big wins, these are all opportunities for your company culture to help employees survive or thrive.
So what are a few of the basics that take a company culture from good to great?
Build a Culture of Trust
There saying goes, if you don’t trust your employee to work remotely why hire them in the first place? That doesn’t mean that flexible or remote working is the right solution for every company, but it means if you’re hiring this person you should trust them. If you are a micromanager or the professional form of a helicopter parent you will quickly lose the trust and probably respect of your employees. Not only will it cause insecurities and tension but it will create a lack of confidence.
What happens when they make a mistake? Will they know what to do? How can they grow and learn from this? Keep communication lines open and transparent. This will help create a safe space for employees to learn, grow and ultimately thrive. Give guidance but allow employees to take a swim in the deep end and learn!
So you want employees to work well together and trust each other right? Chances are they can’t fully do that between tasks and projects. Take time to plan team building exercises. This can be as simple as a weekly lunch where employees all go together, maybe you cover the bill or have a ping-pong tournament or some other activity. If you want to really take it to the next level, find ways to weave interactions into everyday transactions.
Something I did with my team during my daily standups after discussing what needed to be done and what had been done was successes they wanted to share. These could be personal or professional. It helped add another layer to our discussions and helped my employees get to know one another better.
As managers, we also got together and recognized someone weekly this helped everyone to see small successes and quirky personality traits of others. We also frequently ran mini competitions that were rewarded with lunches or donuts or an early Friday. We also allowed our employees and teams to plan parties around special holidays or events that happened during the workweek. A fun one they came up with was potlucks. They had everyone sign up to bring something and it was a great way to share with one another on a personal level.
Encourage Growth + Communication
It’s important to build a cohort of strong independent employees who embody your culture and goals as a company. Employees should take ownership of their jobs and ideas. Once you’ve established a trust-filled culture of collaboration, employees will bring ideas to the table. If there’s a new idea from an employee let them carry it out. If there’s a new skill they’d like to learn that can improve their position and the company, see if some time and resources can be allocated provide them the opportunity! You’re not just looking to keep an employee for a few weeks, provide development pathways so each employee can be innovators and contributors.
Communication is one of the top reasons for failing relationships, both personally and professionally. Ensure your employees are clear on what expectations are and what the plan is. Make sure employee and employers stay on the same page. Come up with a system and a strategy. If employees are put on a pathway these can be laid out. Milestones, projects, etc can all be documented in a pathway. Have feedback points where progress and improvements can be discussed. Be authentic and show your vulnerability as a leader. If expectations aren’t being met, discuss and be blunt about what’s going on. Have a thoughtful conversation and come up with a plan, set consequences as well.
Remember that a great company culture isn’t about the free food, ping-pong tables or unlimited vacation time. There are many other ways you can make your company culture amazing to help employees thrive. Also, keep in mind this isn’t something that happens overnight. Take the time to plan with key leaders on what should be established and know that it’s ok to adjust your course. Be open and transparent with your team and let your culture pave the way to a steady path of growth!
Check out Talking Talent for more tips on improving company culture.