Company culture is playing an increasingly larger role in the job selection process. A few years ago, ping pong tables in an office started a trend of perks qualifying as “good company culture.” Now, the stakes have been raised: Google has in-office saunas, Basecamp allows remote work from anywhere in the world, and Yahoo has a company gym with sand volleyball and basketball courts.
The problem is, those perks are being confused with company culture. At the core of any company, there are values, beliefs, standards and goals that have to be communicated and well-received in order to guarantee success. Those are what make up company culture. As an entrepreneur, here are some tips from my experience that have helped my company succeed.
Create a company vision that your employees should, and want to, embody.
As a leader, it is up to you to institute a company vision that includes business goals, growth strategy and values that act as governing rules for your organization. At Motivate Design, we have two rules that our employees follow and embody. Rule No.1? Use your best judgment. Rule No. 2? See Rule No.1. This vision is something that your team can constantly look to when things get crazy or feel misaligned. Write down your vision, print it out or put it up on the walls – whatever you do, making it easy to constantly reference will spur its fervor within your organization. When you see someone embodying this vision, give positive reinforcement.
Establish clear parameters for how and when employees receive company information.
It’s up to you to decide how much to share with your staff regarding business decisions. To ensure a healthy company culture, clearly state how your employees receive that information and in what medium. No one likes to hear things through the grapevine, as it can often turn into a rumor mill. Whether it be a quarterly report, Slack channel or weekly meeting (like we have at Motivate Design), your employees will appreciate the opportunity to be filled in on the latest information. This also creates a safe place to ask questions or for clarification around lingering issues. Use this to address concerns like staffing decisions (who is joining/leaving and why), changes in positioning (new offerings or services), current market trends and upcoming events.
Find employees who identify with where the company is and where it wants to go.
This piece is especially important in startup and growth stage companies. Things can (and will) change. And that’s okay. As a leader/entrepreneur, this is something that you may even find unsettling or scary. Make sure your team is there to support, rally and advocate for you and your company when those changes emerge. Not everyone will be a fit for certain changes and staffing changes may need to be made. And that’s also okay. But it will be easier for your employees to ride the waves of change when they are clearly communicated from the get-go. Review these at quarterly meetings where employees can work through these changes in a collaborative, creative environment.
Feedback is your friend.
You are the leader of your company but you can’t do it all. A staff full of unhappy campers only makes for poor-quality work and a hostile environment. In a good company culture, it’s important to have an outlet for employees to provide feedback on what’s going on in the day-to-day office life. For example, send monthly surveys with opportunities to collect specific and broad points of feedback, or create a company culture committee responsible for boosting morale and fixing issues before they become issues. Implement what you hear to maintain a happy and prosperous company culture.
These aren’t the only things that make for good company culture, and ping pong tables are a nice touch. But, it is evident that communication might just play the most important role in what ends up shaping the culture.