Building a culture is one of the most important tasks you’ll face as a business owner. A company’s internal operations determine how successful it is. This can be one of the most difficult aspects of being an entrepreneur if you aren’t an HR expert. The reason for this is that when it comes time to start hiring new people, you may find it extremely difficult to balance a diverse group of personalities into a single, efficient unit.
This was highlighted in a Dale Carnegie Training report: It was discovered that the process of re-hiring, re-training and re-development costs the economy $11 billion each year. The ultimate goal of workplace culture-shaping should be to create a professional environment where employees want to stay for the long haul.
How do you go about doing that? Here are four pieces of advice to consider as you create your own corporate culture:
1. Set a good example.
One of the most common characteristics of ineffective leaders throughout history has been their inability to work on the front lines with their subordinates. Theodore Roosevelt’s style exemplified this idea.
You can demand respect as much as you want. But, to earn it, you must project a mentality that says no task is “below” you and that you would never force someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.
There are several small habits you should develop and exhibit the “fearless leader” mindset. Make it a point to be the first one to arrive at work, for example. If you consistently show up late, you are condoning others to do the same.
Keep in mind that your company culture is an extension of your professional ethics and image. You are a walking, talking example of what your brand should be.
2. Make wise hiring decisions.
On your own, you can only do so much to shape a professional culture. The people you choose to surround yourself with will have a significant impact on how the business runs. As a result, be selective in who you bring on board.
During the interview, you should try to get a sense of the candidate’s long-term goals and professional mindset. To be honest, coming up with responses to those standard interview questions isn’t all that difficult. This is why it’s a good idea to ask more unusual questions, which will reveal more about the candidate as a real person.
Zappos prides itself on hiring talent in line with its cultural expectations. When candidates fit into its personal and professional environment, the company understands that both inside and outside operations will run more smoothly.
Inquire about the candidates’ hobbies outside of work. If they have any that generate income, it demonstrates that they are valuable on multiple levels and have a “go-getter” mentality.
Another interesting subject is the candidate’s experience as a student. As many people know, college is a chaotic time when young professionals must perform in the classroom, earn money, and maintain a social life. Inquire about how this person prioritized and completed tasks in college. Was he or she concerned about their health? What were some of the most important lessons this person learned?
Note: The people you hire should reflect the culture you want to create. Understanding how they manage their daily lives is a key component of a high-performing operation.
3. Embrace feedback.
It’s no secret that in today’s workplace, top-down management doesn’t work well. You’ve probably gotten used to your way of doing things as a solo entrepreneur. However, when you start involving more people, you must be willing to listen to what they have to say. Other ideas aren’t irrelevant just because it’s your company.
It is critical to obtain regular feedback from employees to advance the culture. Carnival Corporation advises that this process be kept as simple and transparent as possible.
Great leaders pay attention to their followers and make things easier for them. Try introducing feedback forms or set aside an hour every month to discuss how things are going. The goal should be to identify bottlenecks and locate them to solve problems.
It’s worth noting that a company’s culture isn’t set in stone. It’s a living, breathing organism that can change at any time. This is why it’s critical to stress the importance of checking in and encouraging people to be open about the company’s direction.
4. Rejoice in your victories.
Everyone enjoys being praised. Employees gain a sense of purpose and satisfaction that their efforts are paying off when you, as a leader, tie individual accomplishments to the big picture.
Show your gratitude if the company had a successful quarter, month, or even week. On Fridays, buy everyone lunch, sponsor a company happy hour, throw a party, and so on. By constantly giving employees something to look forward to, you’ll motivate people to do their best work.
Note that company culture does not develop solely within the confines of the office during working hours. One of the most effective ways to keep morale high is to host events in honor of good performance.
Consider your company’s culture to be the foundation of a building. One bad storm could cause the entire structure to collapse if it’s poorly designed and executed.
It’s important to remember that establishing a healthy work environment takes time. Everything begins at the top (with you) and works its way down. It is your responsibility as a leader to foster an environment in which employees can thrive.