If you don’t have a culture in your startup, it will decay. If you don’t know your core values and how your business should reflect them, then your employees won’t know how to reflect them either.
And if nobody knows who you are, what you represent or what culture you promote, then their passion for the business and its future won’t exist. Nor will yours. In short, if you don’t build a culture, then it will slowly collapse inward on itself until nothing is left but a stale idea.
So, how do you create a culture that has you leaping out of bed at 5am? What do you do to inspire yourself so that you inspire others?
1. You sit down and prepare your values
What do you stand for? What do you believe in? How do you want other people to perceive the work you do and your ethics?
Are you a cutthroat, step over the bodies of your foes kind of business, or are you a people-focused, solutions-driven kind of company? Build up a core of words that define you and then use these to create an acronym that sustains you.
Be sure to investigate the meaning of any acronym you create before you set it in stone.
The last thing you want is an acronym that has some dark and twisted counterpart on the web…
2. Communicate your values
Seriously, this is key. So often people sit down and craft these lovely values and build these awesome acronyms and then just send them over email. Or include them once in an onboarding.
It’s all very good to put your strategic thinking down on paper, but relaying the message is vital.
Get it on your social media, put it on your intranet, stick them in the coffee area, repeat elements of them at meetings. Get these values out and about as often as possible.
3. Get engaged
Well, office romances are normal so that’s cool, but this is more about engaging people in your culture. Get buy-in from your staff in a genuine and open way.
They have to believe in what you’ve created otherwise you’ll be skipping down the company pathway alone.
Consider adding in motivations, recognising people for their contributions to specific values and rewarding them for their engagement.
4. Walk the talk
Don’t mess about. Don’t pretend the values are important to you and then do the opposite. If you don’t live your own values, nobody else will either.
In fact, saying one thing while doing another is a sure-fire way of creating a toxic working environment that will see high staff turnover and plenty of customer dissatisfaction.
5. Patience is not a cheese
Don’t expect everyone to leap onto the values train from the first day. This isn’t how it works, especially if you’re already established and have only just got around to creating them. People who joined before you implemented a new culture or value system may not be a good fit or may need more time to adjust.
It isn’t a race to the culture finish line, it’s a process. Learn as you go, trust in one another, take things forward carefully and be prepared to make mistakes and learn from them.