"So the outcome of any great business isn't to create satisfied customers... no. Your goal is to constantly create raving fan customers and, most important, a raving fan culture because the only way you went go from a business operator to a business owner is if you can build a culture. What does culture mean? A set of believes and values that guide everyone in the company, and they consistently follow. Culture is what creates a business." - Tony Robbins
Culture is not a trendy office space or a free gym class membership.
Culture is the feeling internally and externally you have at your company.
💖 "Culture is the heartbeat of your company."
A little bit more scientific way of defining company culture would be:
🔬"Company culture is the summation of how people within an organization interact with each other and work together."
When you go into a company and talk with people, you usually can feel how the culture is in this company. Is everybody friendly, or are people just staring at there monitors without any interaction?
To change a company culture, you first need to understand how it was created.
Culture is created and shaped when the people inside that culture are challenged. It can be a challenge from within or from outside. People at the company learn how to deal with them, and if the challenge was done successfully, then this behavior becomes the norm or the culture. When new colleagues join the company, they have to learn about the culture in the company and most often will follow the company culture or leave the company.
Going back to the creation of a company, which is also the start of the culture, you usually only have the founder or founders. Let's keep it simple for our example and say there is only one founder.
This founder already brings a lot of culture in the company. Every person has a personality, values, and they have a vision (the idea) for the company. This will be the foundation of the company culture, but there is also a second factor. The industry demand.
For example, a bank needs to have more rules and regulations. They need to be as stable as they can be. Even if every bank has its own culture, they all usually are very organized and top to bottom oriented with strict rules. This is a demand by the industry and often is hard to change. This usually only happens when there are significant technological jumps(Like right now with the internet).
The combination of the founder and the industry demands is what in the very early stages creates the company culture.
We now have a small company culture with some core believes. You have to think about this company culture as a house. From now on, it is not willing to change anymore that easy. You have built the foundation, and you can only add to it and maybe expand on the foundation.
At first, you will only have a small house to maintain because your company is tiny and you can now start decorating your house.
You are letting the first employees into your new home. They now will also try to redecorate your home and move stuff around, but they can only do it in this tiny house with the foundation which is untouchable.
After some time the house will get another room and maybe a second floor and so on. The company culture will grow and expand, but it will only change in small ways. If you move your sofa from one side of the room to the other, it is a change, but the difference I would say is not that significant for the whole company. It maybe helps you or your team.
This is the reason why it is hard to change company culture. It can not be done from top to bottom but also not from bottom to top. It has to be done by everybody at the same time. This does not mean that everybody has to change at the same time. It's just that everybody must want that change.
There is not a golden formula that will help hear. Every company is different, and so the companies culture is different. Still, some tools can help with the change.
You need to understand your current company culture.
Let's go through some dangerous traits.
Poor internal communication: Human beings, in general, are social creatures. They want to communicate, and they usually want to help other humans. If it is reduced or no internal communication in your company, this is a reliable indicator of toxic company culture.
Micromanagement: Where to begin with this on. Micromanagement is not just dangerous for the company but also for the customers. Micromanagement leads to unmotivated and not thinking employees. People like to be trusted, and if they are not, they will either quit the company, or they silently quit. Silently quitting is when you mentally quit your job, but you are still doing it.
Too much competition: Competition is not a bad thing. It can lead to better products and motivate people to do better. The problem comes when there is too much competition, and people don't work together anymore, don't help each other, or even sabotage each other because they want to win. This will lead to a very toxic company culture where everybody is on its own.
Bad management examples: Employees look at there higher-ups all the time, and they look at how they behave. If the CEO always comes to late either to work or to a meeting, they will copy him or her, and it will become the norm. This, at some point, will lead to a lousy company culture. This effect is even stronger when managers are doing X but preaching Y. Because now people will feel mistreated. Unfairness is a company culture killer.
Thinking problems are not significant: Have you ever thought to yourself: "Today I will go to my boss and talk with him about a problem that is totally not important to me. This will be fun!" Every problem is essential, even if it does not seem to be relevant to you. People are different and have different needs.
These are just 5 traits. From my experience, they are the most common, but there are a lot more traits.
If you are interested in more signs of bad cultures, please comment down below!
Now that you know that you need to change your company culture, you can start the change!
You need to figure out what are your companies core values. They are unique to your company. You can not copy and paste it from the internet. Even if there are good examples like the core values from Adidas
- Performance: Sport is the foundation for all we do, and executional excellence is a core value of our Group. - Passion: Passion is at the heart of our company. We are continuously moving forward, innovating, and improving. - Integrity: We are honest, open, ethical, and fair. People trust us to adhere to our word. - Diversity: We know it takes people with different ideas, strengths, interests, and cultural backgrounds to make our company succeed. We encourage healthy debate and differences of opinion.
Some companies use single words like "Quality". From my personal experience and talking with people that work in small startups to fortune 500 employees, I found that they just don't work. "Quality" is too general and can mean to one person something different than for the person who is in the same team working at the same product.
Make people remember these core values. Printing them on a piece of paper and hanging it on the wall does not count as retaining them.
Excellent company culture needs trust. If I can not trust my colleagues, I will not communicate with them. If I don't communicate, mistakes will be made, brilliant ideas will be not explored, and the company will get stuck at some point, or even worse, nothing will work anymore.
With modern tools, it is easy to communicate with the whole company or team. These days companies usually have some kind of chat application. These chats should be a safe space where people can freely discuss everything they think. Also, having fun is essential. Here are some things you could do tomorrow either as an employee or as someone in a manager role.
Write something funny on the #random channel. This should be done by a higher role, like the CEO or Manager level. Because this will show people that they can have fun at work and it will lose them up.
Make team channels private and just invite the people that should be in that channel, and there should be no management, no C-Level, no product owner or product manager. Again this should be a safe space where every team member can speak even about the small problems or opinions.
Ask a question for a solution that other people could know. Don't be that guy that knows everything. I don't know everything, and you don't know also! This will also make other people feel helpful and that they are making some impact!
Fearless communication is king! When it comes to company culture, this is a must-have, and there are a lot of ways of achieving it. Too much to write them in this article! If you want to know more about this topic, please comment down below!
Hiring a person that does not match the company culture is bad for every side. For the company, the customer and the person itself. This person will be unhappy at your company and probably silently quit the job without leaving the company. Other employees will feel this, and the motivation will go down. This, in the end, will lead to a worse product. Invite the employee to small talk and then talk about the companies core values and ask the person if she or he can identify with these values and why.
While you are on the path of change, some of the employees will feel bad and resist the change. This is normal, and in the beginning, the CEO or funders should tell this to everybody. That the difference will not be a smooth sail, there will be storms. There will be challenges but also that you will go through them together as a team. Also, some people will be super unhappy with the new culture and also this is normal. If they really don't want to change, then this is fine, but sadly you both should agree that maybe another company is a better fit for that person. After all, both parties will be struggling.
Maybe your employees want to make a flash mob! Why not? Or they want to have a Mario Kart tournament after work. Where they will love and hate the game, the random items, and each other. Maybe they all want to go for some crazy sport event. Buy them the tickets. The Return in investment will come.
Okay, there are a ton of more things you need to do or can do for better company culture. Again if you want to know more, please comment down below! Or write to me on any social media. Links are at the end of this post.
Maybe you need help with your company culture? I have worked with a lot of software teams to help them work better together, and I would be glad also to help your team or company! If you are interested, please again contact me on any social media platform or directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org!