Saturday, May 6, 2017

How to Create Company Culture from the Ground Up

Startups know how much having a distinct company culture can set them apart and communicate who they are to the world, but what they might not know is how to create that culture.

Should you focus on the perks of the job or concentrate on conveying the mission of the company? If you’re not sure where to start, these steps will guide you in the right direction to ensure success for your business, team, and yourself.

1. Define your values and personality.

Who are you? What about your business—what does it believe in and strive to accomplish? How will you build people up for success and pick them up if they stumble? Your values and personality shape the environment of your company’s culture. so it’s important to define what they are and be strategic about how this will allow the company to succeed.

For example, before I owned my own company, I came from a corporate background. I’m naturally pretty personable, so I knew that a strict environment would not be the right fit for my new company. Our strategy has always been to put customers first, and we do that by doing everything we can to create the best possible experience for the customer. A strict environment might mean sticking to the rules whereas ours is happy to tweak those rules for the greater good of the customer and business.

2. Hire team members who reflect your culture.

Now that you know your company culture, it’s time to bring on team members who embody the spirit of your business.

Let your culture dictate your hiring process. Be clear in job descriptions the type of business that you run and what is expected of employees working there.

Remember that a lot of this has to do with personality as much as it does with work ethic. If you hire an employee who works hard and does great work but is extremely negative and puts people down, that person’s attitude can affect everyone working there and even the business over time.

Look instead for potential candidates who share your values. Once you have a cluster of dedicated team members, encourage them to refer friends who share similar can-do, positive attitudes. Your team ultimately represents your company, so take your time to find the right fit that contributes to the business and its atmosphere.

3. Determine how you will celebrate success—and handle conflict.

It’s easy to think about the good times in business, but it’s equally as important to have a game plan when the party’s over.

In terms of success, consider the perks you can offer to boost morale. Aside from health and 401(k) benefits, think about what else your team might enjoy to feel valued and motivated. Maybe this means flexible scheduling, unlimited vacation time, free catered lunches, or time spent away from the office on a retreat or at a volunteer program. Take into consideration how you can celebrate each employee and their milestones too, like birthdays, baby showers, and outings during the holidays.

Now let’s move on to conflict. While this is nowhere near as fun to address, it’s necessary to have the protocol in place to handle issues that may arise. Figure out who will be responsible for handling conflicts and how decisions will be made to resolve these issues.

Communication is key in these situations, so it’s also important to establish how conflict should be communicated to the appropriate contact—whether that means scheduling a meeting to discuss one-on-one or as a group. Remember, companies are built with people and people are only human, so it’s not unusual to have healthy conflict happen from time to time.

What is unusual is a company culture that doesn’t know how to handle it. Determine how you will address these problems rather than avoid them, and your environment will be all the better for it.

Show off your culture through marketing!

Now that you’ve built it, the world is curious about what happens behind closed doors. Show off your company culture through your branding strategies. Figure out what your voice will sound like—whether it’s upbeat or chill—through marketing initiatives like social media platforms and PR.

Break up ordinary editorial calendars with content that gives customers a behind-the-scenes peek at your business, like Instagram pictures treating the team to a food truck or Facebook Live videos of impromptu office dance parties. This sets your business apart from the competition, shows off your personality, and highlights the people who work for you.

Who knows—somebody watching might be inspired to apply for a job or partner with your business because they got a taste for your company culture and loved it!

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