Every business owner or HR manager in a growing firm aims to attract top talent by building the ideal workplace environment. Happy motivated staff, creative breakout rooms, and a cohesive decision making team are just some ways to establish a positive environment. But is it that easy?
A good sign of a positive workplace culture is inclusiveness; a situation where everybody, from the intern to top-level management, is comfortable enough to share ideas and solutions. Building a strong culture within your team is a right path towards success.
It’s common for many startups to think some concepts may not apply to them because they are at the initial stages of growth. On the contrary, that’s the best time to start, because it can become a part of the business’ underlying principles.
As a senior member of an organisation, you want your company to recognise and embrace shared values, attitudes, standards and beliefs that epitomise its objectives.
Brendan at Domain4Less says companies need not set up bowling alleys and play lofts in their reception before they can build a friendly environment for their staff. “A positive workplace environment can be as simple as employees who are happy to come to work every day and deliver optimally.”
Giving everybody equal opportunity to contribute
Establishing a culture for your startup means having a clear and uniform vision you can share with every member of your team. You also want to develop an identity of how you want people on the inside and outside to view your company.
Inclusiveness is a way to encourage motivation among your staff. Employees are more willing to contribute when they know their suggestions are not only welcome but considered too.
So how can you build the ideal work place culture? Here are some actionable methods.
- Identify the type of culture you want
What type of culture do you want for your growing business? Are you looking for something laidback? Or a more professional culture with room for flexibility? Whichever direction you take, it is advisable to avoid extremes; instead, make room to adapt to certain changes.
After you have identified your culture, the next step is to practise it every day at work. Training is also a great way to impart it, but you can act on it rather than wait for the next general meeting. Practice and preach is the right technique. When top executives embody what they teach, other staff will surely follow.
- Value employee opinions
Still part of inclusion; valuing your employees’ opinions goes a long way in letting them know that they matter. Besides nurturing a workplace culture of open communications, you never know where the next best idea may come from.
Tom Walters the CEO of Tasty Catering Chicago says people are not just units of productivity. A company’s future is only as secure as having a workplace where staff can interact cohesively. As your startup begins to take shape, inculcate a culture where everybody’s voice is heard. In the long-term it will add value to its development.
- Encourage a ‘we’ culture
Businesses are more successful when their employees have a team-based ideology. There are people who work well individually and those who are team oriented. While both have their benefits, it will be better off fostering a team culture in your growing company. Think agile teams, where people work rapidly in small result-oriented units.
For example, if an employee approaches you with a problem, ask them questions before proffering a solution. Then listen to the pronouns in their response; are they an “I/me/they” person or a “we/us”? You should be concerned if you get more of the former. You can start small by encouraging your employees to adopt a team mindset.
- Hire the right fit
Sometimes it is more practical and cost effective to hire the right fit instead of trying to change a person’s inherent behaviour. While there’s nothing wrong with training people in your company’s culture, you can save time and effort by identifying talented hires that fit perfectly into your organisation’s way of life.
Culture starts with hiring; sometimes, it may take a whole year to decipher the behaviour of people who work for you. Try hiring for attitude not aptitude. You can train people in new skills but it’s much harder to change an orientation. For a growing business, education is the key to sustaining your business culture.
- Create a vison map
It’s difficult to know where you want to go without a documented guide. Even pirates had treasure maps and they were not organised. You company’s vision may be clearly ingrained in your head, but not everybody can interpret it in the same way.
Outline a plan for the kind of culture you want for your business. Then, specify ways to impart it onto your team. After a specified period (6 -12 months) conduct an assessment test to see how much the culture has caught on- including to people on the outside. A good workplace culture includes the future; when people look towards the future, they will be more positive about the present.
- Create bonding activities
Your startup culture should not start and end with work. Every company needs a ritual that cements its workers together. Besides breaking the ice, these activities build relationships that transcend the workplace. The average employee spends at least 47 hours per week at work– this is a lot of time, you can’t afford not ignore the potential.
Some organisations plan camping trips, sporting competitions and other recreational activities to solidify the bonds within. Every company in the service industry needs to come up with a way to spread camaraderie around. You can have new recruits do runs around the local stadium as part of company tradition. It’s not how fast they run, but how well they enjoy it.
- Focus on consensus
Not all decisions, however well-intended, add value to the company culture. Before implementing any new policies, ask yourself if it hurts the culture more than it helps. You may have the prerogative as a top-level executive to implement decisions, but where it causes more harm than good, you should consider it more carefully.
Your employees are important stakeholders in your company, and making decisions without their consent tackles only one side of the problem. You have to come up with a way to include them in major company choices. Sometimes, you may not have all the answers.
- Adopt an effective feedback process
When people talk about communication in the workplace, it is mostly focused on sharing ideas and brainstorming creative strategies. However, another important form of communication is feedback process. How do your staff handle uncomfortable situations? Do you appreciate performing employees openly?
Team members who are dissatisfied with behaviour of their colleagues need an organised way let them know. There are effective ways to help people improve their weak areas without being judgemental and killing their morale. Remember, this should be a mutual activity. A workplace with a healthy feedback process is a one with happy employees.
Employees are the backbone of an organisation. As your company grows and starts to take shape, a comfortable employee culture will go a long way to ensure its sustainability. A positive workplace culture can motivate people to increase their productivity; and when they do, your business grows.