As a leader in your business, you are probably thinking about company culture often. I know I do. In my role as founder and CEO of KazSource, culture is the number one aspect of my business I think about, as it impacts literally everything else, from client relationships to the quality of our work, from innovation to marketing. The overall future of the business depends on this one component of company identity.
Most know by now that culture is enormous. Not everybody knows how to foster a good company culture, though, or even what company culture really is.
Culture is more than just having a pool table in your office or a modern couch and lounge area. It’s not about having a lot of group bonding exercises. No, culture is all about people. It’s how people get along with each other. It’s the kinds of standards they uphold, and it’s the goals they share. When employees spend all day gossiping and give dirty looks to anyone who suggests getting to work, that’s culture (though not the kind your are looking for, obviously). When people help and share ideas with each other because they believe in the company’s values and mission, that’s culture, too.
All the people together at a business make a company’s culture what it is, but leadership has to set the pattern. If you are a leader in a business that is not deliberately shaping your company’s culture, you’re probably shaping it accidentally.
If your company’s culture requires an update, here are three areas to consider:
1. Right Attitude
You want your employees to be excited about coming into work. Of course, not every day can be sunshine and rainbows, but work can be an incredible place—a place to develop new ideas and a place make a difference for your customers and colleagues. So, you want your people to go to sleep on a Sunday evening excited to start their week at your office. Avoid that TGIF mentality at all costs. A happy, engaged workforce simply performs better.
The right attitude starts with you. Sure, you can offer incentives, you can throw office parties, you can hire the right people, but ask yourself, do you look forward to coming into work in the morning? If you don’t, do something about it.
2. Right People
As alluded to above, you can shape culture to some extent by whom you hire—and whom you let go. For example, a few years ago, we hired someone who was highly skilled and who came to us recommended by two people I trust. This person really knew how to get the job done. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that they didn’t get along with co-workers. This individual demanded that everything be done their way. Now, this way wasn’t bad, but since they couldn’t or wouldn’t adapt to the other people around them, the employee wasn’t a good fit for our culture. We decided this individual should find employment elsewhere. Good person, good worker, but this person should be running their own company.
3. Group Buy-in
If even one employee isn’t fully on board with your company’s goals, it will be tough to reach your full potential as a business. However, if everybody is all-in and excited, nothing can stop you.
So how do you get complete buy-in? If it’s really just one hold-out, you may be tempted to fire that person, but that could be a bad idea. Maybe they noticed a problem that you didn’t catch. If you ask the right questions, you may be able to address their concerns and improve your company in the process. Generally, the way to get people to take their role in your business seriously is for you to take them seriously by asking for their input.
What Company Culture Isn’t
While I often see culture undervalued, in a way I often see it overvalued, too. For example, there are those who think that because they like to drink beer and watch the game with friends, everybody in the office should drink beer and watch the game together. That’s not how it works. Not everybody likes to do the same things. And don’t even get me started about office yoga. If co-workers want to meet at a restaurant or a fitness studio or a yoga place on their own time, that’s great, but don’t put people in a position where they feel like they have to either play together or say no.
When you look around your office, what do you notice? Is everybody happy? Is everybody on board? Are there complainers or people trying to bring others down? If you hesitated on any of these questions, you’ve got some work to do, if you’re going to be a strong, successful team. Watch how seasons play out in sports. The teams that rise to the top have great talent for sure, but they usually have an incredible culture. If you aren’t there yet with your business culture, that’s okay as I’d venture to say all companies have work to do with culture—even mine. All businesses are always works in progress.