February 23, 2016
What is company culture? Why is it the most important thing in the company? The culture should be an invisible thing. It should also have some level of organic growth to it.
Sure, you can add in perks to the company, like free lunch and some ping pong tables, these things are wonderful, but they are just a piece of this puzzle.
It all starts with leadership. Culture is something that comes from the top down. Want something out of your employees it starts with you. Leading by example can slowly just transform your company. As a leader, people are watching you. They are trying to see how you react and how you would handle situations. If you want the company to start going in the right direction, start the process yourself.
All workers contribute to culture, but you as the leader are going to set the table. Are you properly communicating the values and the goals you want to your team?
There are times in every company and business where you need to try to push the team a little harder. Deadlines start creeping up, and large projects come out of nowhere. It happens and will continue to happen.
These are the moments where you team needs you. If you can jump in and help out with the workload, I think that would go a long way. Sometimes, it is best for you to stay out. But, help those people; protect them from distractions. Offer to get them all a few pizzas for staying late.
Saying thank you goes a long way when you ask more out of your employees.
Just think about this for a scenario. You crushed it all week and beat that deadline, and it is a Thursday, and your boss came up to you and said: “hey, you’ve been killing it comes in late tomorrow.”
It is always good to remember the team and to remember the people. These are the horses that are going to level up the company.
Be respectful of their work and their schedule. If you gave them a week long project on Monday, don’t give them another one on Tuesday.
Trust your employees. I know you might be thinking that you got burned in the past. But, you know what. Trusting some of your best people is ok. If you have a person on your roster for five plus years, and you need them to execute a project, get out of their way. Let them run lead and just be a resource for them. You want to be able to have a team that you can go to with an idea and walk away and have it handed back to you in a nice neat little folder.
You have assembled a group of people working on a common goal. They might have ideas about what should be done. Be humble and learn from them.
It is where the “douche effect” can become out strong in bosses. If one of your employees comes to with an idea and you, HATE it. Maybe don’t say “I hate this that is stupid.” (True Story)
I want you to pause and think for a moment. A little hesitation can go a long way here. Maybe even throw in a look upward to sell it. Then just say, “Thank you for coming to me with this. I will take it into consideration and see. We started doing X, but I will see if this makes sense in our plans. Good job, thank you.” This lets them down easy and makes them feel heard.
I would also like to share a true story. If you have a person at your desk, and they bring negative news, and they are in tears because they tried so hard to avoid the problem, take serious note of that. That is a person WHO CARES. They felt so emotionally invested in this situation that it caused them to cry because they didn’t want to let you down. That is a person I want on my team. Support that person and help that person. Don’t just shrug off those tears with “Oh why is this upsetting to you.”
Being in an environment where nobody listens to you, and nobody trusts you to do anything is extremely demoralizing to a team.
There are a lot of unhappy people sitting around you, and you might think that everything is perfect. Would you rather lose your top people or have to listen to a few dumb ideas?
Changing the company culture doesn’t happen with an email or deciding to wear sneakers to work. This takes work by the leadership and all the workers to buy in. First, in foremost it starts from the top and getting the leadership to set the values and the goals of the company. Then it goes from there.
Written by John Siwicki who lives and works building interesting things. You should follow him on Twitter