Creating A Company Culture: Start With Values
We’ve entered an age where your business is defined by its culture. When it comes to hiring new staff, it’s no longer solely about deciding if they’re right for you. They’ll be deciding if your company is right for them.
You can do all the right things to make sure you’re about to hire the best potential employee to suit your existing team (psychometric testing is a great way to get an unbiased and scientific understanding of candidates) but what happens if you can’t attract the brightest and best to join? Or worse, they accept your offer and quickly leave when they don’t like what they see?
A strong company culture is built on values. It’s what attracts the best people, and most importantly, keeps them in your organisation. Having one is no longer optional. Why does everyone want to work at companies like Netflix and Northern Gas & Power? Because people crave a great culture; they want something they can feel connected with and get excited about. The culture of your business, no matter what size, shouldn’t be left to chance. It needs to be created.
What is company culture?
So, what exactly is company culture? Many businesses think having great company benefits and staff perks or discounts forms part of their culture and communicates how much they value their staff. While this is all nice to have, it’s superficial and won’t contribute to a lasting company culture that will attract and retain the right people. Your culture is a code based on your values and principles. It’s the personality of your business, it reflects your brand and it forms the behaviour and conduct of your people. It’s not a foosball table in the staff room; it’s what you stand for and the environment you create for your people to perpetuate that.
Who are you?
Now you’re thinking past the gym discount and dress-down Fridays, you can begin creating a culture that truly reflects your company. To do this, you need to understand who you are. Review your values and what your brand stands for. Strong values will allow you to create and build guidelines that drive behaviours and help your people make decisions that will support the culture you are creating.
In many organisations, mission statements and values are written simply as a box-ticking exercise and are often forgotten or ignored. If you ask their people what the company values are, it’s likely they won’t know. Create values that you can really live by to shape a company culture that is genuine and your people will get on board with your sincerity.
Stay true to you
Don’t try to create a wacky culture if that doesn’t fit who you are. If you come across as false or insincere, your existing people will feel uncomfortable and potential candidates will pick up on it. As fun as it might sound to let everyone bring their dog to work and have weekly on-site massages, your company culture will only thrive if it’s a true reflection of those values you’ve been working on. Get a thorough understanding of the existing culture within your organisation that may have already developed without guidance, then you can work out where it needs to be.
Don’t come up with values you can’t live by. Saying you value transparency will only drive your culture if you really do value transparency, and constantly seek new and innovative ways to live that value. Even if you feel you need a radical change in culture, it won’t happen overnight; work on developing what’s already there.
From the top
Everyone should live and breathe a company culture, and this begins with the most senior leaders. It’s been said frequently, but here it is again; lead by example. Potential employees will look to your senior leadership team to better understand your brand, values and culture. If senior leaders can’t get on board with supporting cultural change for the better, are they the right people to be leading and representing your business? Your company culture represents what you stand for and how you behave; your leadership team should embody this, or it will never reach the rest of your people.
Support from the top isn’t verbal – it’s behavioural. Your senior leaders must understand what behavioural changes are expected of them so that they can be consistent, and they can communicate the changes to everyone else in your organisation. Through training and mentoring, your leadership team can support your people through the change and development of their cultural behaviours.
Your culture forms your brand and your brand forms your culture; to attract the best people for your business, you need to align the two. If you want to develop your brand and your culture, start at the beginning. Start with your values.