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3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Establishing Company Culture

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Establishing company culture is one of the most important things you can do as a startup. Your company culture carries over to your employees and to your customers. Additionally, the culture you develop can also impact your public face.

Over time, company culture becomes a defining attribute. After a while, a poor company culture can drag you down, especially as you grow quickly. A positive company culture, on the other hand, can lead to happier employees, more productivity, and better outcomes overall.

When establishing company culture, it’s important to pay attention to how some of your policies can shape your priorities. Here are three things to avoid when starting up:

1. Unrealistic Expectations

Many of us like the idea of having high expectations for ourselves and those in our organizations. However, there is a difference between having high expectations and placing unrealistic expectations on your employees.

A study from the Institute for Operations research and Management Sciences indicates that stretch goals can actually cause performance problems. This is because such goals are often unrealistic. In turn, they hurt employee morale, causing them to feel as though they are being set up to fail.

While you want to promote high standards and productivity, don’t do it at the expense of your employees’ morale. You want them to focus on doing a good job, not trying to achieve something unrealistic. It can become distracting and disheartening. Even if you try to tell your workers that the stretch goals aren’t the main focus, it can still be a distraction.

Instead, set your employees up to succeed in what they’re good at, and offer encouragement. Set realistic goals that will move your organization forward, and then set new goals after you reach them.

2. Strict Time-Tracking Policies

We’ve all seen the joke about the management consultant that times employees as they use the bathroom. Maybe you are a stickler for employees arriving right on time and staying for exactly eight hours. This type of strictness isn’t very helpful for most employees, unfortunately.

Instead of focusing on punctuality and what’s on a time card, pay attention to performance and productivity. Flexibility can do a lot more for employee morale and productivity than forcing them to work an eight-hour day. In fact, studies indicate that an eight-hour work day is far from ideal. Workers are more likely to be more productive overall when they can focus and avoid distractions — as well as work when they are likely to perform best.

While some startups do require employees to be there at specific times (to serve customers), it’s still possible to focus on flexibility. As much as possible, put the focus on job performance and getting things done, and less on strict time-tracking policies. You might be surprised at the quality of work you see.

3. No Clear Values

When establishing company culture, it’s important to have clear values for your company. As a startup, your values and mission might be low on the list of things you’re worried about. However, these are things that can guide you and help your employees understand what you are striving for.

Figure out your values, and then help your employees adhere to those values, and make efforts for your company to stick to those values, and you will be far more likely to develop a company culture that is positive — and attract employees who are excited to join you on the journey.

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