When you first launch your own business, it can be tempting to put your entire focus on profit margins and product development. But without the right team in place, it will be nearly impossible to accomplish any of your development goals — and to attract and keep your dream team, you need to make company culture a top priority.
Explains Jeff Cherry of Conscious Company, “The minute more than one person is involved in the organization, a culture starts to develop. And that culture — the way you interact with people, deliberately or not — will be the thing that propels you towards success or hinders your ability to execute.”
So how do you go about making company culture an emphasis in your new startup? Below, you’ll find seven straightforward methods you can use to build a positive culture:
1) Define your values
Your company values serve as the baseline for your culture. They define what you hope to become, as well as the methods you will use to achieve your goals. Take some time to consider which things will be most important to you as you grow your business. Then, work on improving your ability to articulate this vision. Having a well-defined, clearly-communicated set of values is essential for attracting like-minded people to your startup.
2) Brainstorm with one another
You don’t have to come up with your company culture on your own. Inviting your current employees to brainstorm ways to improve the work environment will help them become more actively engaged with your company.
Better yet, this will motivate them to take ownership of the culture and be more proactive about maintaining a positive environment. Don’t be afraid to continue holding brainstorming sessions to get everyone’s insights on where cultural improvements can be made.
3) Focus on genuine employee needs
Employees in different settings and industries will respond better to some management approaches than others. Says Jason Bliss, co-founder of Healthy Living Network, “Once we had the right people on board, we realized another thing … altruistic employees require specific management approaches. We had to develop a leadership style that was rooted in social connection, empathy and self-awareness. We had to connect with our team to understand their unique circumstances, motivators and dreams to give them the tools they needed to succeed.”
In other words, you can’t manage healthcare professionals the same way you would a sales or marketing team. Take the time to understand what your employees truly need so you can use the management approach that will best motivate them.
4) Be consistent with behavior
It’s easy to be the positive, friendly boss when things are going well, but what happens when you encounter setbacks? Like it or not, startup leaders need to be consistent in their behaviors and actions.
This doesn’t mean you have to fake being happy. But if you’re a “best friend” to your employees one day and shouting at them the next, the mixed messages will make it hard to develop a consistent culture. Be consistent in how you conduct your work, no matter what, and your employees will stick by you through thick and thin.
5) Show gratitude as much as possible
Do your employees know how much you appreciate their contributions? According to the Harvard Business Review, “feeling genuinely appreciated” is the biggest factor behind workplace engagement.
Expressing gratitude in simple ways will help your employees feel motivated to give their best effort. It can provide a much-needed pick-me-up during a particularly stressful day. It builds loyalty. Best of all, it only requires a few minutes of your day to say “thank you.”
6) Get out of the office every now and again
Quite often, a lot of the best culture-building activities happen outside of the office. While a work-sponsored hike or trip to the movies won’t make up for a truly terrible job, these types of activities can go a long way in building unity and strengthening what should already be a positive culture.
There’s a reason why Google’s offices have a bowling alley. Participating in genuinely enjoyable activities will help your team grow closer together and reduce the stress associated with a hectic workday. Notes James Kerr of N2Growth, “The idea behind such concepts is to encourage collaboration and cooperation and to dissuade rivalry and internal competition. Social connectedness enables staff to appreciate individual diversity, while establishing a work environment rich in self-reliance.”
7) Focus on one value each and every day
Making your company culture matter requires a conscious effort. After you’ve defined your core values, you’ll need to work to truly internalize them. One of the best ways to do this is to pick one of your values and then focus on it throughout the day. You can even invite your employees to join in! By practicing this exercise every day, it will be that much easier for everyone in your startup to fully embrace and live by your core values.
You can never just sit back and assume that your desired company culture will grow naturally. You need to be proactive. As you implement these simple tactics into the way you and your employees conduct business, you’ll be able to build a culture that propels your startup toward greater success.