When starting your first company — the motive is to make a dent in the problem you’ll be solving. Then you start your next company. Now you begin to solve issues again — but you have experience building a company from the ground up. In your mind, you believe that this company will grow faster because of your previous experience.
Company culture can be one of the biggest challenges for executives.
If you are experienced in growing companies — you have heard all of the rumblings of “what should be.” Sometimes the boss or CEO will determine to hire “right” the first time around. Many top executives have learned (through bitter experience) that to replace someone takes a lot of time, effort and money. Often the “culture fit” needs to be dealt with right to begin with.
The solutions to finding your own cultural fit is to use the correct tactics in the first place.
In order to receive high-quality output over time — company culture is critical. This is one reason why many CEOs end up spending as much time on company culture hiring as they do on the company problems. The company culture has the potential to make or break what your company is working towards.
It is a complex issue. There is not a one-size-fits-all formula — and if there were a one-size-fits-all — it would change as your company grows. Nonetheless, there are different guiding principles that you can follow to build strong company culture.
Here are 10 tactics that will help you do what you need to for company culture:
1. Recruit people with similar values.
Company culture is often not something that is created on day one that persists over years. It is fluid and changes as new employees enter the picture — the business grows — and the world around us changes.
That being said, you should bring together people that have the values you want to uphold. These values vary for each business — but having a common theme can unite employees. It could be based on the type of business or the founders or other factors.
Regardless, your employees need to interact well together for optimal company culture. They are spending 40+ hours a week together. If they are not comfortable, they will burn out quickly.
2. Never disregard culture fit in hiring.
In hand with values — be careful not to sacrifice for someone who is not a culture fit.
Despite how qualified a prospective hire might be or how much pressure there is from those around you — if someone is not a culture fit, they are unlikely to succeed in the role.
The wrong fit will upset other employees — and can change your company dynamic — often for the worse.
3. Train your managers.
It is one thing to take on a function and something entirely different to empower others to do so. Just because someone is competent in their role does not mean they are going to be a good manager.
That puts a large emphasis on training your managers. When someone is stepping up into a new leadership role — they are going to be largely responsible for the happiness and success of those below them. They have a crucial role and deserve leadership training to excel.
4. Collect constant feedback from employees about their experiences.
There has been a huge rise in the data that businesses collect today on their customers and the world around them. Yet, there is rarely enough data about internal company metrics. This is a missed opportunity.
Strictly sticking to surveys to decide who gets raises and who to fire –is not the right decision. Considering data and individual opinions can create a very growth-oriented company culture.
It is beneficial to pay attention to each individual and how they feel about the company. — their co-workers — and their bosses are doing, individual success will increase. You can make improvements and individual suggestions, accordingly. Plus, this emphasis will demonstrate to employees that they are cared for. That will give them more reason to be invested in their work.
5. Get everyone behind the mission.
Just because you and your immediate surroundings are excited about the company mission does not mean that the bottom-level employees feel the same.
It seems obvious to those at the top who are living in the most important decisions. There are often many in jobs that do not give them the luxury of thinking about the big picture or the grand impact of the company, though. When they see their work as less meaningful, they will put in less effort.
That makes it vitally important to get everyone in the company behind your mission. This can come by keeping them in the loop about company direction, helping employees feel empowered to make an impact, and creating a strong and easy-to-get-behind company mission.
6. Empathize with every employee.
Everyone at your company is deciding to spend 20% (and often more) of all of their time working for the business. That adds up to over 2000 hours over the course of the year. They should, therefore, feel as if what they are doing is the best possible way that they could be spending their time.
In order for that to happen, you have to understand their goals and empower employees to reach them. As your company grows, the CEO cannot do this for everyone. Managers certainly can, though, which emphasizes the need to train them.
The Best CEOs frequently converse with all levels employees to empathize with them. They understand what is happening from the bottom-up, which makes them much more effective implementing structures from the top-down.
7. Appreciate employees for good work.
When people work hard for you and help your business succeed, they should see the appreciation. It does not necessarily have to come in the form of financial or physical rewards, although that is one means. What is more important is that they feel fairly recognized for the impact they are having.
8. Pay people what they deserve.
You should do what you can to pay people what they deserve. No matter how excited they might be about your mission, there are a vast number of impactful companies in the world today that they could move to. Paying people a fair salary demonstrates a respect for their work. It also eliminates money as a concern, which will, ultimately, better retain them.
9. Bring together diversity.
It can be difficult and makes hiring more time consuming, but many of the best company cultures are extremely diverse. Diversity adds different perspectives and ideas to the table that challenge people. Subsequently, they end up having better experiences and feel as if they are growing. It also creates a more accepting culture for those that are different. This will both increase employee morale and creativity.
10. Keep things lighthearted.
Stress can create high productivity in short periods of time. Although appealing, people should be enjoying themselves at work. When they are not, they will eventually realize and go find a new job.
Even if the work that you do is extremely serious, it does not mean that each day in the office has to entail strict faces. Instead, have ways to bring employees together in fun environments. This could be a weekly happy hour, a bi-monthly company trip, or a handful of other things.
More than anything, it takes a concerted effort.
Ultimately, when building a strong company culture, many of the steps seem clear. There is a reason so many businesses struggle, though. With the vast number of tasks on a daily basis, it is easy to overlook the individual experiences and office culture. This mistake creates long-term problems, though.
It is, instead, worth the investment to build a strong, collaborative and fun culture. It will not only make work more enjoyable but will also help your company sustain growth and success moving forward.