Getting your company’s culture right is as important as nailing your business strategy.
If you've established a strong culture you’ll create a great place to work with loyal and productive staff who support your business growth.
Get it wrong and you could be stuck with a poor employer reputation and struggle to attract top talent.
Or - in worst-case scenarios - you could find yourself the subject of damaging news headlines.
Take Google, for example: the tech-giant was left red-faced a few years ago after an employee released a memo arguing women in tech were scarce because of biological differences.
As well as firing the employee, Google was quick to underline its commitment to diversity and inclusion. But the damage was done.
Uber also made headlines when a female engineer wrote about the rampant culture of sexual harassment and sexism.
Since then, CEO Travis Kalanick has been ousted and the company is facing a slew of legal cases.
Why is it important to build a strong company culture?
So, it's clear that a toxic company culture can have serious effects on your public image and company health. It can also be detrimental to productivity, staff morale and - therefore - long-term growth.
So, whether you employ a team of 50, or just a handful, cultivating a strong company culture is key.
Without your staff, the crucial cogs of the business would stop running. So, it makes total sense to put your people first.
6 steps to create a strong company culture
There are plenty of things you can do to ensure you’re build a winning culture as your business grows.
Define your values...
Your values are the reasons why you do what you do. It's what your business is built upon.
They steer the way your people behave, treat one another and go about their day-to-day work.
Before you even think about defining your culture, you'll need to establish your values.
- What is the business' purpose?
- What do I want the business to be known for?
- Which characteristics do we value in our employees?
... And communicate them
Once you’ve nailed down your values, you'll need to communicate them to your people.
How do your values translate into the day-to-day running of your business? Set expectations for your staff and provide guidelines for this.
Perhaps get your people together for an afternoon and communicate your values in an engaging and inspiring way. Invite them to participate - this way they'll feel part of your vision.
Going forward, ensure every project or initiative is underpinned by your core values, and that they're communicated carefully to every new employee that is onboarded.
Hire for cultural fit
There’s absolutely no point in employing people who aren't on board with your values or culture.
Make this a key part of the interview process. Ask candidates what they value in a company and gauge if they align with your culture or not.
Fail to do this and you could land yourself with an unproductive employee who doesn't see eye-to-eye with the rest of the team.
Define success (and measure it)
What does success look like for you? And how will you know when you've got there?
It’s important to create a means of measuring performance and success so your people are able to see how they are progressing both individually and collectively.
This could be as simple as introducing rewards for hitting targets, or bonuses for passing certain turnovers, customer conversions or profits.
It’s not always going to be plain sailing, so don’t try and hide the low points.
Instead, celebrate the highs and analyse the lows, consulting with staff about where things have gone wrong and what can be done to improve them in the future.
Be transparent about your successes, too - be sure to share any upturns in revenue, exciting achievements and business-growth.
By doing this you'll make your people feel a part of the journey,
Align the purpose with the practice
Company values are pretty useless unless they are put into practice. It's important to practice what you preach.
If you say you're a 'people-first' company and are passionate about your culture, make sure you demonstrate this by investing in your people.
Let your people know they're genuinely valued and cared about and you'll be rewarded with a happy, engaged and motivated team.