Creating a strong company culture can mean making big decisions.
We’ve all heard the mantra “culture is king,” and it’s become cliché for good reason: It’s the only piece of our companies where we can truly put our unique stamp. If you want to do the best work for the best clients, you should have the best talent. And culture is a critical tool to finding and retaining happy, motivated employees.
According to a June 2016 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.9 million people quit their jobs in the month of March alone. How can you challenge the status quo and build a business where people want to work? By creating a strong company culture. Here are four steps to help you realize that goal.
1. Be authentic.
Business isn’t just business—it’s personal, particularly when you run a company you started from scratch. Your company can infiltrate your entire life, from your family to your free time, and many of the business decisions you make can be influenced by you as a person. Because of this, a strong workplace culture is reflective of the company’s leadership. And authenticity is key; you certainly can’t fake it.
“Whether you provide opportunities for professional growth, work/life balance, profit sharing or cutting-edge technology, if you’ve set the expectation for a certain kind of environment, you need to deliver it.”
When my business partner and I started Planit more than 20 years ago, we set out to build something cool, something people would talk about. Whether your motives are to change the world or gain personal fame, be honest with yourself about why you’re starting your business. Authenticity in culture will follow.
2. Have a vision.
I suggest taking your reasons for starting the business and use them to create a company manifesto that outlines the values by which you’ll operate. At Planit, we took our original intention and developed a nine-point “Planifesto” written in our brand’s voice and tone. It includes rules like “Trust your gut and be willing to fail, as long as you fail fast and learn from it,” and “Do generous amounts of good.” It not only clues in new team members to the kind of work environment we’ve created, but it also reminds long-term employees that we’re all working at a place that values transformative ideas and leads revolutions for our clients.
3. Listen to your team.
The best employees see a job as a two-way street. And when that’s not the case, things fall apart. Listen to your people: What do they need? Each time an intern class graduates from our agency, I tell them to approach future job interviews like they’re interviewing the company, not the other way around. What do you need out of your job? A new mother will have different needs than an employee fresh out of college. Like a family or a sports team, your company needs leadership, but as a leader, you need to know how to listen so you can craft a culture that fits your people as much as it fits you.
4. Deliver on your promises.
Business is personal. You don’t hire a firm, you hire people. And with that in mind, it’s important for management to deliver on the promises it makes to its staff. Whether you provide opportunities for professional growth, work/life balance, profit sharing or cutting-edge technology, if you’ve set the expectation for a certain kind of environment, you need to deliver it.
The bottom line? Just go for it. When creating a strong company culture, don’t be afraid to be bold. Nothing good comes from hesitation. If you think you’ve gone too far, take it another half step and then you’ll probably hit the sweet spot.
Author: Matt Doud
President and Co-founder, Planit