Creating a positive work culture is a critical element in the success of any company.
In fact, 94% of business executives and 88% of employees surveyed believe that a distinct corporate culture is critical to the success of a business.
Your culture at work can have a huge impact on the performance of your employees and the overall goals of the company in terms of:
- potential revenue
- value of the firm
- rate of growth
Basically, your work culture plays an important role in attracting, retaining, and motivating employees. Creating a positive work culture:
- turns your office experience into a joyful one
- gets more work done in less time
- prevents drama and toxic back-stabbing
- attracts more A-players
- develops a healthy, reputable brand
Just recently, Comparably released the list of winners for Best Global Company Culture 2021 as rated by the U.S and international employees.
The data gathered is a result of employees evaluating companies in 20 different workplace culture categories that include the following:
- work-life balance
- professional development opportunities
- perks and benefits
Topping the list are companies like Google, Adobe, Samsung, Microsoft, and HubSpot. The list also includes other giants like Facebook, Zoom Video Communications, Apple, and Amazon.
Now, culture is extremely important for both startups and large enterprise corporations primarily because culture is related to productivity.
Let us go over eight key tips for creating a positive work culture in your organization.
1. Build Your Culture as Early as Possible
It’s really easier to build a culture than mold the culture later.
There is a common misconception that you can reshape your culture once you are already scaling your business from a few members, to 50, 100, or more.
When you start an organization, you can start with the culture in mind. Begin with the core objectives of the business incorporated in your roadmap.
This makes it a lot easier to handle hiring simply because you already know that everyone is supposed to be aligned with the culture. It also makes it easier for your recruitment staff to be generating high-quality results by only hiring the people who are going to be the right culture fit.
The smaller the team, the more significant it is for the business leaders and the key recruitment decision-makers to have a clear vision.
Now, creating a positive work culture is hardly the number one priority for most starting businesses especially whenever the founder isn’t a serial entrepreneur because serial entrepreneurs already know that. They know that work culture is really the core of the company itself. That’s why they know how important it is to create a positive company culture in the first place.
And the tricky bit is whenever you head into a company with a broken culture, with misalignment between the teams, with a toxic environment and whatnot, it’s something that has started early on and there are people who weren’t culture-fit from the get-go.
So that’s why it’s this important to actually think of your work culture early on. And even if you’re starting to work on improving your culture, make sure you don’t postpone it any further because the further you get, the more challenging it becomes to “update” your culture on the fly.
2. Ensure Your Business Leaders Follow The Culture Closely
The leadership team should live and breathe the company culture.
Your first three, four, or five hires will probably be assigned later on to deal with more clients, partners, vendors, and people within your organization on your behalf. It is somewhat expected of them to become a part of your leadership team, may it be the C-suite, senior management, or team leaders.
If you have started creating a positive work culture early on, you can assign them to work on tasks and follow the processes you have established. If they are going to become decision-makers in the future, then they should be able to embody your company culture by strictly abiding by your culture.
The further your business grows, you will have a longer hierarchy involving the C-Suite, VPs, Senior Directors, and Upper Management. These leaders are most likely going to come through the corresponding senior positions. If you have a Chief Sales Officer, they are going to hire the VP of Sales, the Sales Manager, and everyone else under the hood.
At some point, you would stop heading the hiring process for all of the important roles that you need in the team. The CEO or the business owner cannot remain the only person to know everything about the organization and always lead the way, resulting in micromanagement.
Having your culture defined early on is one of the best ways to mitigate some of those recruitment and management issues, and make sure that everyone in your leadership team is aligned with the goals and processes you have set from the start.
It is really close to impossible to create a work culture out of nowhere.
If there is a cultural misalignment, an entire vertical of your culture scenario is going to be molded in the wrong way simply because you haven’t been focused on the culture early on with your first hires who are going to potentially become your business leaders. So, make sure your leadership team is following the company culture very closely.
3. Cultivate A Culture of Trust
It doesn’t matter how important of an executive you think you are or how much you maximize the revenue—you can’t deliver all the work in a growing company. You have to learn to trust the people you work with. Your ego is irrelevant.
If you want to create a positive work culture, you have to work toward cultivating a culture of trust.
Warren Buffet, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is popular for trusting the people he works with to do their jobs without him having to supervise or intervene every now and then. According to Shawn C. Allen, president of InvestorsFriend IncB., Buffet is a motivator and a leader who approaches management by choosing “competent, ethical and likable” managers to run the businesses that Berkshire owns. While he monitors their results, it is very seldom that he interferes. As proof of how well his leadership style has worked over the years, Warren Buffet is the sixth richest person in the world as of March 2021.
In a study of 88 companies in the field of consultancy and professional services, the 20 Best Workplaces with the highest levels of trust also enjoy higher levels of cooperation, loyalty, and employee willingness than those who have lower levels of trust.
The bottom line is that you have to develop managers and trust them to do the rest of the work for you.
Let the hiring managers hire. Even if you are the best recruitment rockstar, you can’t spend all your time nurturing your team and coaching them personally. If you need to build technology, but you know nothing about it, then leave it to your tech team. If you have no in-house tech team, then outsource to a reliable agency.
But just the same, trust the people you will be working with you.
4. Consider Your Team in Major Business Decisions
Change is inevitable. A growing company will constantly have to evolve. Along with the evolution are the changes in team structures with new team members, multiple management levels, emergence of new departments, optimization of products and processes, and more operational activities.
Any misalignment between the core objectives of the company and what keeps your team going may cause irreversible friction. It is important for the entire company to know these core objectives by heart and to never lose sight in the middle of all these changes.
In 2018, Google went through a lot of backlash due to employees quitting and organizing protests over the company’s bid for a $10 billion contract that will provide the US Department of Defense cloud computing services. Google employees were afraid that the company would go against its ethics policy concerning the use of artificial intelligence. Under such policy, Google vowed to not make “weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people”. However, the government project might compel Google to do the opposite.
Once Google decided to kind of “violate” this policy, they had a major problem with their employees who are very much supportive of the policy. In the end, they had to cancel their bid for the project.
This serves as a reminder to ensure that in any type of business decisions, especially those for the long term, there is a possibility that your team and how they perceive changes will be affected. Worse, you may eventually lose senior VPs, directors, or managers with their corresponding teams due to disagreements brought about by your violations in the way they work within the organization.
5. Bond with Your Employees
Building a long-term relationship with your staff is paramount to creating a positive work culture.
However, managers often struggle between being “friends” and being “friendly.” It is challenging to simply be friendly without risking coming across as “cold”. But, it is more difficult to be treated as a friend whose opinion or say on matters important to the business might get disregarded.
How would you reject a vacation leave with a “friend” knowing it might negatively impact other team members. There are some hires who will try to look for workarounds and loopholes that often exist in organizations with weak policies.
Special treatments or unnecessary exemptions create opportunities for office politics and drama. There are others in the office who are not easily comfortable with making friends but when they notice that their colleagues are “friends with the boss” can create more boundaries.
You may stick to a “Friendly, not friends” policy. It is a balanced act of building trust without crossing a line.
Laying down objective KPIs for every employee in any department is a great way to stay objective and avoid the temptations to make exceptions for certain employees.
Taking a more personalized approach and discussing problems or concerns casually, without friction, is also beneficial.
Consider how important company culture is for your business. In order to develop a long-term business relationship, building trust and loyalty is integral for extending the duration of your collaboration.
Nurturing the relationship over time will yield satisfaction, incredible results, and a strong bond within your own team.
6. Set Culture-Driven Performance Indicators
When setting key performance indicators (KPIs), do not leave culture out of the equation.
At DevriX, we were able to reduce our turnover rate by 30% due to our culture-driven KPIs.
Even during the recruitment process, you can already assess whether a potential hire embodies your values and would be culture-fit for your company. You can create scenarios and gauge the applicants through the questions that will help distinguish clearly what traits and perspectives the applicant has.
Here are some questions that will guide you in gauging upfront whether an applicant is culture-fit for your company.
- Can you describe what would be an ideal workplace for you? What do you value the most in a work environment?
- What characteristics are you looking for in a manager? How would you describe an ideal manager?
- What management style works for you the most? Can you describe what you believe are the most important traits of a good manager?
- Are you open to making friends at work? Do you think genuine friendships can spring up from a competitive workplace?
- What was the last position you held in your previous company and how do your previous work experiences affect your choice of a new workplace or job?
- Can you identify the most important factor that will contribute to your happy disposition at work?
- How do you prefer to work? Do you prefer working alone or working with a team?
- What do you think your coworkers would say about you and your work style?
- Does it matter if you have friends at work? Or are you the type who prefers to go home straight after a long day at the office?
- Can you share an experience in the past where you went beyond your duties to work on a project or help a client?
Basically, you think of what truly matters for your company and measure how the new hire progresses after going through a solid onboarding process. For example, if your new hire claimed during the interview that he values volunteering which happens to be one of your company values, then set KPIs that tell you exactly about his volunteering activities. Track employee engagement in company announcements about volunteering. Check how many volunteer hours have been logged.
7. Unify Your Work Culture Across Departments
As a form of regular exercise, have your teams teach each other.
You can organize workshops and other internal training programs that will encourage team members to step up and share their daily tasks, the challenges they face, and the techniques and processes they have learned along the way.
The good thing about these activities is that every team member can see the bigger picture in how the organization works and how they contribute to the overall organizational goals and objectives even if they belong to different departments.
If you unify your work culture by valuing everyone’s input and encouraging collaboration within and across departments, then you are certainly creating a positive work culture.
8. Never Ignore Your Sales Objectives
You cannot have a thriving company culture while ignoring the numbers.
You can’t be generating losses, you can’t be ten weeks away from actually closing the company, and still think that you have a healthy, thriving company culture.
This means that the business objectives, at the end of the day, will always revolve around sales, or at least it will always revolve around profitability. You need to be profitable and generate great margins in order to satisfy the needs of your people, approve vacations, upgrade your team-building activities, or whatever it is.
Without sales, none of that is going to be possible.
As you scale your business, it becomes even more important for your team to be aligned with the business objectives as already discussed and also be aware of where the money comes from, what the revenue-generating principles of the company are, and why they are employed in the first place.
Do you need help in scaling your business and ensuring culture alignment in the process? Find out how Growth Shuttle works hand in hand with agencies aspiring for growth.