What does it really mean to create a company culture? The media tells us it’s brightly colored employee lounges with catered staff lunches and meditation rooms but it’s so much more than that.
If you want to create a company culture, you have to focus on what you believe in, how you show up, and who you hire. Today we’re talking about all of that and more.
Ready? Let’s get started.
In this episode:
- Creating a company culture that aligns with your mission and values
- The role of the CEO in implementing and upholding company culture
- How to hire team members that resonate with your company culture
Listen to the podcast here:
Creating A Company Culture
When I think about company culture, the first thing that always pops into my head are those big, new-age companies that have huge employee lounges with foosball tables and giant, overstuffed bean bags. And then when they conduct interviews, they talk about how their employees are like family and gush about their monthly company pizza parties.
That is, at least, what you see in TV and movies when they try to make working in corporate not sound like the oppressive nightmare that it is. But real, actual company culture is so much deeper and more important than that.
Because it doesn’t matter how many pizza parties Google throws for their employees if they still have a huge gender pay gap. If you have to be sued by over 10,000 employees before you shrink your gender pay gap there’s no amount of pizza or comfy bean bag chairs in the world that will compensate for that.
Company culture is not about flashy bells and whistles as much as it’s about how your company literally, physically operates, how you treat your people, how you handle disputes or issues that arise, how you address mistakes, how YOU show up as the CEO and visionary on a consistent daily basis.
All of these things contribute to your company culture. Far beyond anything else, creating a great company culture requires really good leadership. Both from you and anyone who operates in a management role in your business.Far beyond anything else, creating a great company culture requires really good leadership. Click To Tweet
But let me back up a little bit and start at the beginning. A lot of entrepreneurs know that they want to establish a good culture but they aren’t really sure what that means. We’ve all got that bright and colorful fun lounge in our heads thanks to the movies and don’t know how that translates online. Or if we even want it to. Or we’ve come from toxic work environments and so all we know is what we DON’T want it to look like with no real idea of how to create what we DO want.
Or maybe we aren’t thinking about creating a culture at all until we’re three team members in and wondering why nothing seems to be clicking behind the scenes with your people.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, you’ll always start at the same place. Your mission and values. These are the foundation of your company and if you are committed to actually living and breathing them then they’ll be the foundation of your team and thus your culture, too.
If your business mission and values drive every single decision that you make, then they will (and should) drive hiring and leadership decisions, too. It’s why it’s one of the biggest things I talk about with my clients during our strategy sessions. You have to lead with your mission and vision when you’re hiring new team members because you want to hire people that are aligned with what you believe and weed out the people who don’t.You have to lead with your mission and vision when you’re hiring new team members because you want to hire people that are aligned with what you believe. Click To Tweet
Building a solid team is the next foundational piece of creating a company culture that you can be proud of. Everyone—literally everyone—has worked with a Toxic Tammy at some point in their life. She gossips around the water cooler and she is always starting some shit with somebody somewhere. Your goal is to avoid Toxic Tammy from even making it onto the team in the first place but if you don’t, your job is to either assimilate her into your culture or show her the door.
And it will be impossible for you to show Tammy the door if you aren’t committed to walking your talk. If integrity is a core value and you let a team member constantly get away with stretching the truth or outright lying to your or your clients, then you’re chipping away at your company culture—and your team’s morale.
If you’re committed to inclusion or anti-racism and you let a team member get away with microaggressions or bigotted statements, then you are eroding your team’s faith in your ability to stand up for what you say you believe in.
Your people are watching you. They know when you aren’t acting in integrity or when something feels off. They’re watching what you do, not listening to what you say. And if you don’t address toxic behavior or let it go on for too long, they’ll start to wonder if you’ve really got their back or if you’re really a person they want to work with.You have to pull on your CEO pants and handle it so that the good team members stick around for a long time and the bad team members get weeded out. Click To Tweet
And I get it. This part of leadership is HARD. So hard. It’s not fun to have uncomfortable conversations with our team but you can’t ignore it and hope it goes away either. You have to pull on your CEO pants and handle it so that the good team members stick around for a long time and the bad team members get weeded out.
So at this point in our puzzle of company culture, we’ve got our mission and values at the base, we’ve hired an aligned team who’s bought into that mission, and we’ve made sure that when issues arise we’re addressing them quickly and in a way that aligns with our values. So what else makes a good company culture?
I guess I’ll call it job satisfaction. One thing people are always surprised that I suggest is to have regular check-ins with their team to see if they still like what they do.
Unless you’re running a multi-seven figure operation, you probably have a relatively small team of 5 people or less. And what I absolutely love about this is that it really gives you the flexibility to allow people’s roles to shift and change as their knowledge, experience, and interests change.
And I don’t mean just promoting someone from VA to OBM, which I’ve seen people do. That’s a corporate holdover that I wish we’d just let go of entirely. Just because someone is good at their job doesn’t mean they’d make a good manager. In fact, many of them don’t. But I digress.
Job satisfaction. How often are you checking in with your team to see if they would like to shift their role? Maybe your social media manager has really developed a talent for copywriting or your admin VA taught herself to code. You don’t know the answers to these questions if you don’t ask.How often are you checking in with your team to see if they would like to shift their role? Click To Tweet
It can be super easy to pigeonhole people in their roles. You hired them to do one specific thing and it’s hard to picture them operating in a different capacity. But just like your services grow and change over time, it’s likely that theirs will too. And any time you can give team members room to grow to meet a different need in your company as YOU grow, you entice them to stick around with you even longer.
And yeah it’s good to have growth plans for someone you’ve hired from day 1. I’ve hired many people who I wanted to start in one role and grow into another one. It’s one of my favorite ways to grow my teams actually. But you have to make sure that they’re growing in a way that THEY want and not along a predetermined path you’ve designed for them in your head. This is a collaborative effort to grow your company and keep your best people.
I think the best way to finish this up is to talk about how important YOU as the CEO and visionary are to creating a rock-solid company culture that inspires people. You are a HUGE part of your company and how you show up in the day-to-day to handle everything from weekly team meetings to big events contributes to your company culture.
Are you consistent? Do you show up when you say you’re going to show up or do you constantly cancel team check-ins or toss them to your right hand because you’re too busy?
Are you handling Toxic Tammy or are you ignoring her because you’re too uncomfortable to have the conversation?Are you handling Toxic Tammy or are you ignoring her because you’re too uncomfortable to have the conversation? Click To Tweet
Are you organized? Seriously, this one is so overlooked but if you don’t have proper systems in place that tell your team how you want your business to be run, then you’re just asking everyone to wing it every time they go to do something and that’s a recipe for burnout.
Are you invested? Not in your business but in THEM. What do you know about your team? What do they know about you? I’m not saying you need to be best friends with everyone on your team but if you don’t know anything about them, you should ask yourself why.
Do you go to bat for your team? One thing that always blows my mind is how quick some people are to throw their team under the bus for a mistake. I’m looking at you, Rachel Hollis. If you are not willing to back up your team when a client accuses them of something or at least find out all the facts before you make judgments or decisions, your team will take notice.
Creating a company culture has nothing to do with foosball tables or pizza parties or how nice the gifts are you send at Christmas. It has everything to do with how you show up, who you hire, and how you treat them. And if you want to create an amazing company culture so that your team is around to support you for a long time, then you have to put in the work that matters.
Alright, that’s it for me today. Bye, y’all.