You will have many tasks on your plate if you’re starting a business, but it’s important not to overlook one of the most crucial: defining your company culture. Although a company culture will tend to develop and change over time as the organization grows and various factors influence it, you still want to start with a framework for your culture.
Everything from studies to surveys to anecdotal evidence routinely confirms that a strong culture plays an essential role in the success of any company. Organizations with defined and positive cultures attract and retain top talent. They also enjoy greater degrees of employee engagement, resulting in higher productivity.
One way to start getting ideas about your potential company culture is to ask yourself certain key questions, including the following:
What is our greater “mission”?
This is a simple question to ask, but it’s one of the most important.
A company’s main goal shouldn’t be only to make money. While it’s fine if one of your goals is earning money, your company is unlikely to thrive over the years if you don’t have a greater mission. History has consistently shown us that the organizations that make a lasting impact and survive industry disruption are those based around a set of values.
For instance, Apple didn’t become one of the most well-known tech companies in the world simply because Steve Jobs wanted to sell a lot of computers. It achieved dramatic success because he wanted to empower consumers by providing them with the tools that at the time were only accessible to businesses and governments. The company culture reflected this desire.
Apple is a strong example to study because its greater mission is directly and inherently tied to its products. For your company, you want to define a mission that also relates to the products and services you plan to offer.
What types of skills and experiences will our workforce need?
It’s smart to address certain practical issues when first defining your company culture. For instance, no organization can succeed if its employees don’t have the necessary qualifications. Because a workforce plays a very significant role in defining company culture, you may want to ask yourself what specific qualifications your average employee will need.
Asking this question now will also help you make smarter hiring choices in the future. Luckily, research shows that when a company hires employees who have the strengths they need to thrive in their roles, engagement throughout the workforce tends to be greater. Employees are more motivated, focused, and content on the job when they know they have what it takes to succeed.
How can we ensure working for this company will bring employees joy?
Every company culture is somewhat unique. Because your culture needs to be a natural extension of your core values, you can’t succeed by trying to model every single aspect of your culture on that of another organization. You can borrow bits and pieces, but you still need to create something that’s truly yours. While all company cultures should in some way serve to offer employees a positive experience, the way they do so will vary from one company to another.
There will be many ways your company could and should bring its employees joy. Some of these can come in the form of benefits, perks, or flexible work schedules, while some may come in the form of providing employees with the sense that their work has made a positive difference in the world.
Regardless, you want to start brainstorming about this topic early. Doing so will help you define a company culture your employees will love.
How will we make key decisions efficiently and intelligently?
Growing your company is likely one of your goals, but many companies will start to fail after growing to a certain size. The addition of too many managers and executives can result in a culture that is bogged down by the levels of management a decision or request has to go through. This will also slow down progress.
On the other hand, you don’t want to head off this problem by deciding early on that only a few key members of the company will ever be responsible for making important decisions. It’s crucial to have a culture that allows everyone to contribute. You need to think about how your culture will strike a delicate balance between allowing people to make decisions and not creating an environment where too many voices result in confusion and inefficiency.
This highlights an important point: answering some of these questions may not always be easy. However, your company’s culture is more likely to be strong and positive if you take the time to define it properly now.