Looking for some pointers to help make your company culture great? Well, look no further. We’ve assembled some fantastic culture advice from the greats. Here are four of the top tips:
1. Document Your Values
Senior Writer Charlotte Bohnett will cover how to document your values in a later post, but here’s an anecdote that demonstrates why writing things down is important—especially as your practice grows: “TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie remembers a time when everyone would say there was a ‘TOMS way of doing things,’ but with company growth, only the original 100 out of 400 employees now know what that means.” In addition to damaging a company’s cultural cohesiveness, unpassed tribal knowledge of this sort can cause rifts between original employees and new hires. To combat this, clearly define and document your core values. Then, conduct regular training sessions and review meetings.
2. Hire for Excellence
And that doesn’t mean hiring only straight-A students. In this excerpt of Paul Alofs’s book Passion Capital: The World’s Most Valuable Asset, he writes: “Great cultures are built on a diversity of background, experience, and interests. These differences generate energy, which is critical to any enterprise.” So instead of hiring cookie-cutter employees, pay attention to each candidate's unique strengths and weaknesses as well his or her alignment with your company’s core values. Then, consider the individual needs of each team to assess the fit. In some cases, compatible opposites produce the best work because they can tackle a challenge from multiple angles.
As Jessica Herrin, founder of Stella & Dot, says in this article: “If you're going fast and hiring fast, you're never going to be 100% right.” So slow down, and hire right the first time. Otherwise, you’ll be doing it all over again in very short time. And that brings us to another point made by Alofs: “Tend to the weeds.” In other words, identify toxic employees—those who you can’t rehabilitate, like the consummate “whiner” or Olivier Blanchard’s “asshole” employee—and replace them before the toxicity spreads.
3. Create the Right Environment
According to this article, when considering the environment he wishes to create for his companies, Wiley Cerilli, VP of Constant Contact and CEO of SinglePlatform, refers to Brad Feld’s quote: “You can’t motivate people, you can only create a context in which people are motivated." In Cerilli’s case, that’s where “Legos and chalkboard quotes” come in—as well as excellent and open communication that emphasizes celebrating team wins.
Alofs also weighs in on the importance of creating the right environment: “In cutting-edge research and academic buildings, architects try to promote as much interaction as possible. They design spaces where people from different disciplines will come together,” he writes. After all, “it is this interaction that helps breed revolutionary ideas.” Because Alofs believes that “culture is made in the physical space,” he recommends designing your space to maximize “interaction and connectivity.”
4. Be Transparent
Nothing good comes from a culture of secrecy and suspicion. So treat your employees respectfully and openly. After all, it’s a shared dependency—you’re depending on them for the work that they do, and they’re depending on you for the opportunity—and they deserve to know where they stand within the organization as well as where the company is heading.
According to this article, SumAll founder Dane Atkinson takes transparency seriously—salary and ownership information is public and board meetings are open to the entire company—and it’s done wonders for his company’s culture."All that stuff is meant to make a more trusted environment where you don't feel like you're getting screwed over," Atkinson says. "It's really hard to screw people over when you're an open book."
Joel Gascoigne, founder of Buffer, makes public his company’s salary information as well as his formula for determining salary, which includes factors like experience and job location. “We see no reason not to share everything,” says Gascoigne.
Even if you’re not yet comfortable sharing information about money, share as much as you can (and include your front office staff, therapists, billers, etc.) and make yourself available to answer any and all questions. And always, always, always be honest. It will come back around if you’re not.
Hungry for more? This Inc. article offers 12 more great tips for establishing company culture, including:
- Value the feedback and opinions of your staff. As is the case here at WebPT, staff can play an instrumental role in crafting your practice’s culture.
- Hire wisely (in case you missed it above). We’re strong supporters of this one; check out our advice on attracting talent here and retaining talent here.
- Focus on goals and share those with your employees. As Steve Kimball, CEO of Inc. Navigator, explains: “Without a clear set of shared priorities...a strong company culture will not take root.”
What advice most resonates with you? What recommendations do you have? Tell us in the comments section below.