Company culture. Remember that? It’s that topic you covered in chapter II of your employee handbook. Oh wait. Maybe you skipped that part because you were too busy getting your company ramped up and off the ground. Creating company culture is essential. If you have not created or successfully implemented a solid company culture, I suggest you promptly head to the drawing board and design it. Here’s why: Whether by design or not, you have a company culture taking shape. And without your attention, it might be running rampant.
You need to ensure your company’s culture is created to accomplish a purpose. By doing so, you’ll be more likely to attract employees that will be a good fit for your business. You’ll also be more likely to retain those employees as part of your team. You’ll have higher levels of productivity, understanding, collaboration, teamwork and harmony in the office.
Determining what kind of culture you want isn’t a piece of cake. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Not sure what direction to go? Here are four steps to help you get started.
1. Take Time to Plan
Creating a company culture can easily be compared to parenting. It requires planning and effort. If you neglect it or opt for the ‘go-with-the-flow-and-see-what-happens’ method, you end up with a sleep deprived ‘toddler’ running on sugar and adrenaline. It’s a scary sight to behold — whether at home or in an equivalent scenario at the office.
Go ahead and give yourself a nice chunk of time to sit down and map out your ideas. What are your priorities when it comes to your products/services, customer service or client interaction? What do you want the office atmosphere to be like? How do you want your team members to feel about their jobs?
Employees are happier when they feel a sense of ownership, have the freedom to create, and know that their company cares through their efforts to provide amenities and benefits which allow for a balanced work-life. These things draw out the best in your team members. Don’t be the suit that just makes products and focuses on the bottom line. Be the one that builds a strong company through culture AND quality products or services. Remember that great culture and quality go hand in hand.
Once your priorities are mapped out, take some time to brainstorm ways to make this culture a reality. Are there tools you can use? Are there new schedules, programs, systems or office features that can be implemented?
2. Look for Examples
Not all company cultures are created equal. Look for articles about companies with characteristics similar to the ones you want your company to have. Learn about what makes them tick. What kinds of things have proven successful for them? Use your research as inspiration to help take your existing ideas to the next level.
Here are a couple of examples of companies that have been very successful in establishing strong, positive and attractive company cultures.
At Southwest fun and friendly is the name of the game, which is in complete opposition to the overall feel of the airline industry. I’m certain they have some sort of wit test their employees have to pass in order to be hired. If you’ve seen their ads and their in-flight safety video, you know their main focus is reaching the customer through humor. On almost every flight I’ve been on with Southwest, each flight attendant has cracked at least one joke or two and is extremely friendly. You know that their employees share the vision when it comes across in their behavior at work! I read somewhere that Southwest empowers their employees by giving them the permission and freedom to go the extra mile to provide excellent customer service. The company allows them to take ownership in what they do which can be very inspiring and motivating to be and do more!
Warby Parker has become one of the top prescription glasses retailers in the industry. They design their own glasses and market them directly to consumers. By cutting out the middle man, the customer gets superior design and higher quality at a lower price.
They’re also one of the leaders in cultivating positive company culture. They have an entire team dedicated solely to enhancing the culture of their workplace. It’s that important to them.
This ‘Culture Team’ or ‘Fun Committee’ is tasked with ensuring the culture is alive, healthy and happy. They put together regular events including fun lunches, unique programs and special, surprise company outings. They even regularly send out random employees to lunch together, increasing the level of connectivity in the work environment.
Every employee is trained on the Customer Experience team. That showroom employee helping you out could be anyone from Mark in IT, to Jessica in HR. This ensures that the efforts of all departments have a common thread – a focus on the customer.
Warby Parker even has their 10 company ideals displayed as the focal point of their break room. Employees all work together to keep all break areas clean – and so they get this additional reminder while they’re pitching in and contributing to the needs of the group.
This deliberate focus on community and team wellness has helped Warby Parker rise to the top.
3. Write It Down
Once you’ve refined your thoughts and ideas, put them down on paper in final form. Writing it all out will make your goals clearer, easier to implement, and help you be more accountable to actually achieve the goals.
Include an overview of your company culture as well as the ways you will achieve it, including details of new events, programs, systems or other ideas.
4. Implement and Be Patient
As you implement your plans, remember that change doesn’t happen overnight. You’re well on your way to success, but it will require time and patience. As you move forward, you will likely need to make adjustments to your original plan. You may even find yourself scrapping entire ideas altogether. But as you get closer and closer to making that culture come to life, you’ll see that it is definitely worth the time and effort it took to design it.
In order to be successful when it comes to creating company culture, you need to take the initiative – and the sooner the better. Make it a priority. Determine what kind you would like to create, and start now to make it a reality.