Great company culture is essential to small business success. It begins with hiring, and never ends, continuing to evolve as your small business grows. But what exactly is the recipe for creating great company culture?
“94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success,” according to a 2012 report by Deloitte. Sadly, the same report found that, “Only 19% of executives and 15% of employees believe strongly that their culture is widely upheld within their own organizations.”
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at a few secrets you can easily employ to cultivate a great company culture.
Step 1: Hire for culture
You should have a very clear idea of your core values and mission prior to the interview process, since you will be using these elements to ensure new hires fit your company culture. You want them to bring the fire and passion that will support your small business mission.
Kris Duggan, co-founder and CEO of BetterWorks told Entrepreneur, “We follow the motto ‘hire for sparkle’ and evaluate candidates in part by the amount of energy and zest they bring to the table.”
You want a team, not solely employees. However, as the small business owner, you have to be proactive in promoting this great company culture. The old saying, “lead by example” certainly applies when it comes to the secret of a great company culture.
Allow new hires to get an up close and personal look at every team member’s work, and how they all come together for that powerful team effort. Personally giving new hires a walk through to meet the team showcases transparency, another secret to a great company culture.
Psychologist and Good & Co contributor, Dr. Kerry Schofield, explains, “If organizations take an individual differences approach, assessing and taking into account the specific personalities and values of their employees, everyone benefits.”
Step 2: Prize transparency
Transparency is essential to a great company culture for your small business. You want every member of your team invested in the company’s success.
For example, Google is one of the most transparent companies ever. “On every software engineer's' first day, he or she gets access to almost all of Google's code. Every employee can view the personal goals and objectives (called ‘OKRs’) of every other employee, and the company holds all-hands meetings every Friday where anyone can ask the founders questions about anything,” explains Jillian D'Onfro of Business Insider.
If Google, one of the largest tech companies on the planet can be transparent, your small business most certainly can too. One great way to make transparency part of your company culture is to hold a company wide meeting to discuss what is happening on every level.
You and team leaders can share ideas, successes, responsibilities, and strategies. And each team member gets a voice. Implement the power of transparency by closing the feedback loop, modeling, and evangelizing, according to Fortune. A transparent company culture shows trust, allowing your team to feel empowered.
Step 3: Empower everyone
When your small business is transparent, it leads to an empowered team. And an empowered team is far more productive. This is another secret of great company culture that only leads to small business success.
It is easy to fall into the space of micromanagement when it comes to a small business. You have nurtured it from your very own vision, and in many aspects, it is like your child. However, children grow up fast and you need to loosen up on the reins.
Let your team feel empowered and invested in their success and the success of the company. You can achieve this by setting guidelines and not giving very detailed instructions.
According to Management's Role in Shaping Organizational Culture (2006), “The four cultural components, viewed as managerial traits of trust and trustworthiness, empowerment, consistency and mentorship coexist at all times regardless of the type of culture.”
Powerful productivity is the outcome of an empowered team free to take on and manage tasks. They will also be more motivated to implement solutions that could be beneficial on every level of daily operations.
Step 4: Give your team time to disconnect
In an effort to cultivate a great company culture for your small business, giving your team time to disconnect is important. You certainly want them to be passionate about the company’s success, but you don’t want to burn them out.
No one likes to work everyday, especially when long hours are involved. You want to invest in your team’s professional growth, and their personal too.
“If your organization has a hard driving, 24/7 work culture, you should also consider mandating breaks for your team,” suggests Rebecca Knight of Harvard Business Review. “Research shows that predictable time off improves productivity and morale.”
Integrating a work-life balance strategy into your company culture will keep the passionate, savvy team you hired supercharged for anything that comes their way. A happy, personally fulfilled team simply equates to increased success.
Step 5: Give employees the right space for them
Not all members of your team will be the same. Their personalities may differ as much as their pay and unique skills. Some may be witty creative types, and some may be introverted IT or programming geniuses.
From startups to corporate, the trending open office space may not be good for everyone in your team. Extroverts may enjoy the open environment, but introverts often like to step away and get things done privately.
According to The Huffington Post editor Hunter Stuart, “Although a majority of American workers go to offices with open floor plans (70 percent of us, according to the International Facilities Management Association), companies are beginning to acknowledge that this set-up isn’t always the best for getting work done.”
Having areas in your small business space for a bit of alone time may be best practice for the great company culture you’re aiming for. It may also allow team members to better focus during project deadlines.
Step 6: Add your own ingredients
Your small business deserves a great company culture. And cultivating one that encompasses your core values and mission is a step in the right direction. Hire those passionate about your small business’ core values and empower them to spread your company’s mission with each client. A great company culture is certainly powerful, evolving over time, leading to growth and success. And most importantly, it is unique to your company, leadership, and the employees that drive it.