How do you create a great company culture?
I am reading Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh of Zappos and have read their 10 Core Values. I see that creating a strong culture early on is important, but interested in hearing how others have gone about starting to create a culture they think works for their business and at what point (with only 2 people, 5 people or 10 people?).
Great question. Here is an article on culture that you might find helpful:
First off you need to hire people that share the same values as the values of the firm. Best to write down what those are, then have professional assessments on every employee to help determine whether the employees actually share those values.
I would recommend the the assessments be professionally administered. The professional assessments will offer better interpretation as well as keep from violating discrimination laws.
Next, I would emphasize the importance of long-term relationships and very high value on employees and vendors. I would attempt to do business with as many local privaye and family owned businesses as possible (Localization). I would support local give back programs and include all employees in the effort. I would look to maintain a family culture that all employees can buy into. I would offer a discriminatory bonus structure. Lot's more, but you really need to live and breathe it.
You should live your business culture. It infuses every aspect of business behaviour. The only way you cultivate a business culture is to be it.
I agree with a few of the comments here, culture must be started early on. Culture is what shapes the community of employees, clients, and fans. In the planning phase, I encourage clients to imagine the end-state of their culture, describing it in detail, brainstorming the characteristics they like and experience from other companies and how they can include those in their own organization. Another element to culture is language. Think about the names of your products and services. Are they bland and the same as your competitors? Or do they add value to the brand and to the story that you share?
Good luck- connect with me and we can discuss further if interested.
Well first of all it is important to be genuine about whatever culture you want to bring about in your company. Don't just establish one because you think it would work. And yes, good idea to start early.(5-10 ppl)
For example, a company I worked for had a recreation room where you had a nice plasma TV, games like pool and foosball. Every employee could use it for half an hr everyday during working hours and longer than that if they had to stay back for office work. We had fun with this and loved it. It was a great stress-relief. Our bosses also used to join us for 20 minute matches from time to time.
You could do something like this for your company as well. Just be sure it is something you can take part in yourself.
The key to creating a stong culture is to ensure HR policies, and business processes actually deliver the outcomes that meet, and are consistent with, the company core values. I had the privilege of being part of the start up HR team in a very politically controversial national compnay here in Australia and we had recruits from 2 completely opposite company cultures. We had to create a collaborative culture during ramp up for 300 to 900 employees over 6 months. A massive challenge and we made sure the best foundations werwe laid in this phase for the culture to develop from the beginning
So many of the answers here are great, well thought out and I would venture, useful to you Carrie. But if I could add one more thing, Why do you ask? Why do you think the culture is important? And then, the most important question I believe..."Why and How does is fit into my company's vision?
I ask the last question because if the culture you would like to create is not aligned with the ultimate vision of the business then it won't work!
I believe that there are three keys to creating a great culture.
1. Give regular and appropriate feedback. People need to know where they stand with their employer, especially in a small organization. The use of programs like talenteval.com can facilitate the process.
2. Invest in the skills of your people. In order for people to feel valued, they need to know that their employer cares about their success and their future. Find ways to invest in the professional skills of your people. This can be through seminars, training programs in-house, or outside consultants helping with company retreats or training days.
3. Engage their spirit. With smaller organizations, you need relational activities to gel you together. With larger organizations, you need relational activities at specific levels to gel your teams together. This can be in the form of team-building, attending fun activities together, even having dinner or a cook-out together. People don't quit their family and the ones that they trust.
I have written additional blogs on entrepreneurial and management success at www.jodynholland.com.
Organizational Communication Consultant
We have been helping leader build teams of employees and cooperative company cultures where people are engaged and committed to the organization's success. We have been doing this for 23 years. Tony was actually in our book, TIGERS Among Us: Winning Business Team Cultures and Why They Thrive. So, yes, Tony's culture is excellent. We focus on behaviors that build trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk assessment and success in the workforce. These behaviors make good common sense because they are experienced daily in how people treat one another, their goals, the company and customers.
Culture starts from the top... a long time friend of mine became the new CEO of a company, in his first few days we developed a mantra which he used to restrict all expenditure and set a new focus.
Two questions were fired back to any executive asking for xyz or money or staff...
What does this do for customer service?
What does this do for product quality?
You can only do this when newly appointed but it sure worked wonders in creating a new focus.