Chances are that when dreaming about building your small business from the ground up, you spent hours crunching the numbers, exploring potential sources of funding, and thinking about how to market your business to get customers. All of these are vital steps to becoming an entrepreneur, but how much thought did you give to creating your corporate culture?
What Is Corporate Culture?
Corporate culture is the intangible set of characteristics that define a business. One of the most exciting aspects of starting your own business is that you get to shape the culture of your company from the ground up.
Strong corporate culture is vital to the strength of your company. According to Harvard Business School’s James L. Heskett, culture “can account for 20-30% of the differential in corporate performance when compared with ‘culturally unremarkable’ competitors.” In other words, how your employees feel about your business impacts how well they work.
6 Components of High Performance Culture
The Harvard Business Review cites six universal components of great business cultures. Look to these points and ask yourself these key questions when developing your own corporate culture.
Think pie in the sky. Put simply, what is your mission statement? How will you change the world with your business? Why did you create this company? What do you want to give back with this company?
Look at these compelling mission statements for inspiration. Life is Good uses the pleasant, “Spreading the Power of Optimism” while InvisionApp totes plenty of key phrases: “Question Assumptions. Think Deeply. Iterate as a Lifestyle. Details, Details. Design is Everywhere. Integrity.”
Simple, dynamic, and powerful, these mission statements reflect the goals of their brand in a few words. Use your vision to shape your goals and build something you are proud to be a part of. Think as though you’re building a legacy.
Values offer behavioral guidelines for how to best support the vision of the company. What do you stand for? What are your company’s priorities and principles? Think about how your values serve the core goals of the business. Your company values will shape your interactions with customers, as well as with your own employees.
This is a day in the life. What’s it like to be an employee at the company? What’s it like to be a boss? Is the office casual or formal? Is the communication free-flowing and fluid, encouraged mostly over email, or limited to business hours? What’s the hierarchal structure?
While the idea of “corporate meetings” has been maligned as an exercise in time wasting, the Design Gym in New York City found that weekly meetings helped them clarify their corporate goals. The founders discovered that the trifecta of clear roles, shared passion, and positive intention were crucial to the success and growth of their business, and they use weekly meetings to achieve these goals.
One important practice to consider is how company management can build fun into work life. Look at what you do for your employees. Whether it’s a free lunch once a week or an annual golf outing, fun activities build morale while encouraging team building and inclusion.
Do your employees share the values and vision of the company? Finding employees who are a good fit is essential. Set high standards when hiring, and then believe in your employees since you’ve hired the best team for your company.
One important goal is to create an environment where your employees are heard. Whether your company is a two-person start-up or a Fortune 500, at the end of the day, internal relationships and communication are at the core of good business. You need your employees to be energized by the company they’re helping to build.
When employees feel cared about, they want to give back to the company and excel. Training programs are a way to give back to your employees, while furthering the excellence of your company. Apple is one company who uses constant training to achieve their goals.
What is the unique story of the company? If you had to write the story of your company in two paragraphs, what would they say? Think about where your company is now, and where you want it to go.
The location and physical structure of the office can influence culture. An open floor plan encourages collaboration. Closed doors might not be inviting in a creative environment, but necessary for a more formal one. Think about how your location and office space helps or hinders your corporate culture.
Now that you know the six essentials to help you shape your organization, it’s time to brainstorm on how to use these touchpoints to create your own positive corporate culture.