One of the most crucial aspects of any startup is its identity and the development of its corporate culture. This can define a company path to growth or to stagnation and failure.
To create a winning culture that will attract and retain the best and brightest, you must consider your future and current employees. By knowing what motivates them to wake up every day and come to work, you can increase their retention, win and keep top talent. After all, hiring is a two-way process that examines “Is this right for the individual and the company?”
The most essential aspect of corporate culture today is being able to make it an employee-centric culture, before making it a customer-centric culture. After all, it is your employee who will be contacting and treating your customer with your company´s values, expected good behavior and empathy.
Building a great culture starts when the founders have intellectual clarity about what their company stands for. There can be no talent strategy without a compelling business strategy – and an honest story. The clearer the core values and the business strategy are, the stronger employee engagement will tend to get.
No matter what structure your company has, the most effective teams typically adopt and develop a collective culture, despite any corporate hierarchy imposed. Flat hierarchy cultures attract people who have high skill and ambition and who take initiative to work rather than wait for the next tasks by their bosses.
On the other hand, it is always better to have some people who already worked in big companies as they can bring to the corporate culture and exemplify to the team the fundamental routines of discipline, respect for the budget and deadlines, delegation and team organization.
Thus, in the nucleus of any planned corporate culture lies a sense of belonging with rituals, traditions, standards, compensations, punishments, expectations, a shared language and goals. Behavioral norms build the framework and basis of a culture with employees´ engagement.
Daily activities cannot be neglected as they are the best instruments to reinforce your culture and make your team engaged with the group values. The creation of corporate culture begins from new employee interviews, because before anyone might be a great employee, he or she is usually a standout applicant.
Companies should look for candidates that are fit for their values and can help propagate them by example, together with the founders. As a set of basic values that every company should have, we can examine a few like respect for people, respect for ideas, equality, flat operational hierarchy, continuous learning, experimentation, meritocracy, and the list goes on.
It is your corporate culture together with the image your company has in the market that will attract and retain your employees. Your business model or success will never compensate for an environment that makes the employees feel uninspired, disconnected, lost, stagnant, dishonest and under-appreciated.
Thus, a positive corporate culture has two important points, in addition: open communication and respecting your team. Open communication will build the so sought sense of ownership through openness and transparency in the entire company. Treating your team correctly, respectfully and with care multiplies the likelihood of your employees to stay and disseminate values that matter for your organization – not only among themselves but beyond to your customers.
Therefore, in your interview with a candidate, be specific about how they understand the company`s values, and what they believe your corporate values mean.
Last but not least, one of the actions that stand out in most of the companies with great corporate culture is to appreciate and incentivize the development of employees with continuous learning. This allows employees to contribute more to the company and to be more up-to-date about the latest trends, technologies and regulations – being an obvious added value to your team skills.
Today, continuous learning is the #2 measure no company can sacrifice. The #1 is setting the example from the top. You can pay your employees courses in Harvard, but if you do not set examples that are truly motivational day by day, or if your top management says one thing and does another, your strategy to create a sustainable and great culture will likely not survive.
By the way: If you’re currently hiring or looking for a new job, make sure to check out the EU-Startups Job Board.