Building a rockstar company culture. It's more than just "fun shirt Friday" or "hump day happy hour." It's what a business strives to be - it’s the vision of a company, how people are treated, and what a company is all about. It's what makes a small business a unique and desirable employer - an employer of choice.
Focusing on company culture is not just for the "big dogs." It is something that small business owners should also focus on. Whether intentional or not, each company has a culture. It's much easier to mold a company’s culture when it’s still small and growing. Considering most companies fail because of internal dysfunction, it's worth carving out the time to build and foster a culture that helps a business grow.
As such, here are 12 tips on how to build an intentional company culture.
Document values and the vision for company culture. Above all else, it’s important to document the company's values and the big-picture vision for the company. Ideas to do this include creating a company culture vision statement or a dream map to share where the company is going.
Hire wisely. Employees are the messengers of a small business’s culture, and they benefit from the culture perks. As such, small business owners should hire with an emphasis on attitude (does the candidate’s attitude fit the company culture, do they exude the vision?) and worry less about their weaknesses.
Evolve as you grow. As a small biz grows and changes its company culture vision will too. Small business owners will try things and they'll fail, outgrow certain activities, and the product or company vision will evolve, too. It’s important for small business owners to not afraid to evolve.
Take a look around. A small business’s physical office space should reinforce the culture being created.
Be open & honest. Small business owners should be transparent with employees about the company culture, especially with where they are and where they’re going. Additionally, they should be vulnerable with employees and keep an open feedback loop with them.
Connect in a meaningful way about company culture. Take discussions about culture off-site. These conversations take time, collaboration, and focus.
Assign a culture king (or queen). Company culture needs to be a collaborative effort, but someone needs to own it. Without a leader efforts will stall.
Get leadership on board. Employees look to leadership to set the example for company culture. Leadership needs to be on board with the vision, reinforce the culture, and lead by example.
Listen to employees. While leadership's involvement is vital, it's also important to listen to employees. Usually employees are just as keyed in - if not more keyed in - to the company's real culture.
Stay focused. Staying focused and prioritizing efforts is important, but only possible once once a small business owner has identified the company culture vision (#1) and have an owner to drive progress (#7).
Communicate culture. Always. It’s important to communicate culture regularly both internally and externally. For example, some of the best "about us" company pages describes their company culture. It allows a reader to know who the company is, what their vision is, what the employees are like, and what they can expect when working with them.
Create bonding rituals. Bonding rituals are the fun stuff. Employers should have fun with the bonding rituals, listen to what their employees value, and make sure the rituals are connected to (or reinforce) their company culture vision.
Knowing how to created a company culture is important, but what are the benefits of having a great company culture? Here are five benefits to small businesses for developing a great company culture.
1. Boost Employee Loyalty
When you have a well defined vision, mission, and code of ethics, you will hire employees who fit well with the company. Employees who fit the culture and are motivated by the company's direction are more likely to be loyal and satisfied in the long-run.
2. Recruit Top Candidates
Prospective employees want to work for a company that aligns with their personal and professional goals. They also want to work for a company they feel good about working for. Create and communicate your company culture, and you’ll have candidates lining up at your door.
For more tips for hiring and recruiting, download this Small Business Hiring Guide.
3. Attract More Customers
Having a well defined company culture helps attract new talent, but it also helps attract new customers. When you treat employees with respect, they treat customers with respect. When employees are all in tune about the company's mission, vision, and products, they convey a consistent message to customers. And if your culture resonates with customers, they’re going to do more business with you (and refer business to you).
4. Simplify Decision-Making
When you intentionally build a company culture, you define your vision for who you are, how you treat people, and what your company is all about. These principles lay the foundation for decision making and set a base for how you make decisions and basic company values.
5. Improve Your Brand
Having a positive company culture gives you a positive reputation in your community. The word gets out to customers, vendors, prospective employees, and fellow business owners about how you run your business and what it is like to work for you.