COMPETE WITH CULTURE
Company culture: it's easy to overthink and hard to do
The smartest companies know that culture is a competitive advantage.
A culture where people can be passionate about their jobs, where they feel free to experiment and take risks in support of company goals is often underrated.
Think about names like Shake Shack, Southwest Airlines, and Costco. Each of these iconic companies is well known for being a great place to work. Employees perform to their highest potential because they’re motivated and excited about their jobs. Customers can sense the authenticity of that excitement and are attracted to those brands because of that culture.
So, how do you build a company culture?
Hire the right people.
Stop combing through resumes for accolades and experience. What sets you apart is consistently hiring motivated, coachable, self-starters who work hard and have the empathy and conversational skills to work collaboratively. Make a list of intangibles for each open position; culture can’t be mandated, you have to cultivate it and let it grow naturally from within. Hiring the right people is key to making that happen.
Treat employees like customers.
Once you hire the right people, the goal is to keep them and treating them like customers goes a long way for that. Simple ways to get people to buy into your brand and culture are to brand everything from onboarding training to the weekly emails, and make a concerted effort to be a great place to work. Set up opportunities for professional development. Show them paths for career advancement within the company. Take an interest in their personal development too, and encourage healthy living.
Define your purpose and rally around it.
Let’s say your ultimate goal is to power great places to work. To do that, you have to be a great place to work as well. Transparency is super important. It’s easier to find work fulfilling when you know how a project contributes to the company’s direction. Personal and professional development are priorities, too. Knowing that the company is invested in you matters a whole lot with retention and culture.
Give everyone a voice in your community.
Possibly the most important indicator of a great company culture is whether people feel comfortable asking questions and making suggestions. There’s no reason for a person to be one way at home and totally different at work—suppressing one’s identity is upsetting and mentally draining and leads to disengagement and dissatisfaction at work. So, work with each other’s strengths. If a salesperson is interested in writing, let them draft out an email campaign. If they’re interested in design, let them have a go at fashioning some flyers or attachments.
It’s hard to build a company culture. But give these pieces a try and keep at it. Make mistakes. Be open about them. Ask questions. And, above all, be available for your employees and they’ll give you the time and leeway to muddle along the path toward a successful company culture.