We all know that family comes first, but what about the family that makes up your small business team? Company culture is the beliefs, values, and personality that acts as the backend of your company’s operations. If your company culture is not efficient, then it is likely that weaknesses are going to trickle through in the long run. Like anything that deals with people, improving culture is messy, but after ten years of business this is how we navigated through the ups and downs.
The first thing leaders need to understand is that their own values and own tendencies are, in a way, contagious by their team. Before any culture improving strategy is put in place, the leader should analyze the weaknesses of the team and recognize some of the weaknesses in his or herself. The same phenomenon that causes you to become similar to your friends takes place with the people we work close to. As a leader, the people around you are always looking to you and subconsciously can pick up on the strengths and weaknesses you have. This makes self-awareness, and self-critique a major responsibility for people who manage others.
Now down to some of the vague nitty-gritty in a topic that is so fluffy in the context of business. Second to the self-analysis of the leader is the understanding of the individual team members. It is important to be in tune with what you desire from the team and what the team desires in general. People want different things, so it is up to the leader to understand that the customer service rep just wants to feel important in the company, or that the marketing manager enjoys managing multiple projects, or that the IT team wants a more work-life balance, or it could even be the case that someone just needs that extra boost in pay to be incentivized to get more productive for you. This makes open communication a vital part of your company’s growth. Your team should be completely comfortable to approach you and speak to you, and you should even set time apart to communicate these ideas.
Then after understanding the individuals in your business we can get into improving the relationships between employees. We have all heard that we need to be passionate about our work, but the dirty little secret is, you don’t really need to work on a passion as long as you enjoy working with the people you work with. When we feel like we are a part of something with people whose company we enjoy, we are more likely to get passionate about our work. Also, when we feel like we are being led by people that make us feel safe and comfortable, we are more likely to experience excitement and joy from our work, especially when everyone is in line with the vision (that’s coming up). The people around us strengthen the feeling of fulfillment from our work. Leaders need to understand how powerful the experience of work relationships are and strive to optimize this aspect of company culture. Pushing people to communicate, work together, and host work events all are ways to try to improve the network that is your company. But this is not all you can do for your culture. Selling your team on the mission of your company also adds an extreme amount of productivity to you company culture, especially when coupled with having your team’s relationships with one another optimized.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to show the company your vision and how it can help them.How will they grow with the business? Is there a message you are trying to stand for? Is everyone in agreement with the goal of financial independence through the means of hard work? A vision creates purpose for people. A large factor in human happiness and fulfillment comes from progress. If you sell individuals on some sort of progression they believe in, then the return on your time is indescribable. Once you have created this “Why” and have convinced your company of it, it becomes much easier to instill values such as hard work, discipline, focus, and unity into your culture.
These are some of the ways HouseOfinks was built. It is why we call ourselves a family. Although our culture is not perfect (we have our flaws like any other company), our relationships and values are all in line with our mission and our actions represent that.