There’s a popular buzzword in the 21st century workplace: Company Culture. You hear about it on tv, you read about it in business publications, you may have even tried to “implement a company culture” in your place of business.
The thing is, there are some common misconceptions about company culture. How does it begin? Can it be improved? What is culture debt? Here are some answers:
Company culture Starts at the Top
As a small business owner, the number one thing to remember is that your company culture begins with you. Your team looks to you as the leader. A team will emulate your behaviors. If you find it acceptable, they’ll find it acceptable. Set the standard with yourself.
Be the culture you want your team to be.
Company Culture cannot be forced
Dictionary.com has an excellent definition of culture: “the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent…”
In other words, culture is going to develop naturally over time. One cannot simply say “This is our culture” and expect it to take hold. It builds over time and is a product of how things unfold in the day to day activities in your company. While we’ve already said it once, it bears repeating: set the standard with yourself.
Company Culture is what makes your company unique
If everyone is doing it in your industry, it’s not culture: it’s what is expected. If you work at Google, you’re probably going to use the Chrome web browser. If you are an engineer for Apple, you’re probably going to talk on an iPhone.
But many other industries use both of those tools. Rather, much has already been said about the culture at Google: for example, being known for allowing employees to use 20% of their workweek to develop personal projects. That’s something unique.
Or look at Hubspot. They may offer some of the non-traditional perks you see in a startup company such as ping pong tables, but that isn’t culture per se. Rather, part of their culture is their flat organizational structure. CEO Brian Halligan works side by side of his employees. In his words, “you’d have a hard time figuring out that I was the CEO of the company versus just one of the employees.”
Company Culture can experience Culture Debt
Just as we can take out financial loans and find ourselves owing money to another entity, culture debt can suck the life out of your company. It may seem like the smart move to hire employees based on a skill set, but if they won’t match your culture you’re going to find yourself running up a negative balance in your culture debt balance sheet.
Think of it like a bank account: for every good checkmark of culture you add, you can also take one away. Look for new hires that will compliment your existing culture, not take it in an undesirable direction.
Set the standard.
As business moves further and further away from the traditional environment and transforms into a modern workplace, remember to make sure your company culture becomes what you want it to be. Lead by example. Find ways to make your culture unique. Hire like-minded people who will take your company to the next level.
What have you learned or implemented at your business about company culture? Leave us your thoughts in the comments!