“It’s really the people that make Google the kind of company it is. We hire people who are smart and determined, and we favor ability over experience. Although Googlers share common goals and visions for the company, we hail from all walks of life and speak dozens of languages, reflecting the global audience that we serve… We strive to maintain the open culture often associated with startups, in which everyone is a hands-on contributor and feels comfortable sharing ideas and opinions…”
Developing company culture should be one of the primary objectives of a startup. What kind of culture? That’s up to you. Some are straight-laced pros to the core. Others are techie centric. One common thread is that most startups these days have a youthful, laid-back culture.
How you develop the values and practices of your workforce is up to you, but having a distinct culture is essential to the future growth of your business. Here are six simple ways to get started:
Create a strong team that reflects core values.
Employees that support and believe in the core values of your company are the foundation of your startup. Without employees that understand and share beliefs of integrity, trust, partnership, or community – or whatever your core values are – your company has no solidarity or comradery. Teamwork will build a business faster than talent alone. In order for your company to take off, you need people who can navigate the ship.
Develop a great environment.
When your startup is in its baby stages, it’s widely known, and accepted, that your office space may consist of a warehouse (or house) basement, with DIY interior design, $15 coffee makers, and computers circa 2009. Once you earn revenue, prioritize: don’t keep acting, and living, like a newborn startup. Move to a better location.
Most employees do not enjoy hunching over dimly lit, old computers while drinking instant coffee, and you probably don’t either. Great environments include more than just cozy chairs and good coffee, though. Your startup environment should reflect your brand and culture while contributing to an enjoyable work environment. It could be contemporary art, a PS3 game room, an employee fitness room or a milkshake stand – whatever fits with your values and brand, and contributes to employee health, wellness, and happiness.
Promote open communication.
Allowing your team to voice their suggestions, complaints, and ideas is good business. Whether you choose to do this through regular town halls, a community portal, or independent meetings is up to you; as long as you provide enough communication options to make people a real part of the business.
Remain transparent about the business.
The more transparent and open you are regarding promotions, salaries, bonuses, etc. — the less insecurity and doubt employees will experience within the company. For instance, if an employee knows exactly what is expected of his supervisor, and how their contributions fit within the team’s expectations, there is less reason for an employee to be insubordinate.
Whether you offer learning incentives, goal-based incentives, or other workplace incentives, make sure they recognize and reward effort, hard work and individual contributions to the success of your company. More importantly, ensure that your incentives program also keeps employees happy by providing a sense of satisfaction and pride. Incentives are especially important for startups in the tech industry as technology and innovations are constantly changing and advancing.
Allow for mistakes and failures.
Failure is largely a part of growth, especially if it comes from a sincere attempt at innovation or a decision based upon intuitive optimism. Allowing your team the freedom to make mistakes or fail at certain efforts provides them with the confidence to help the business grow.
Develop your startup personality, brand and culture early on, and you can create an environment in which like-minded employees are motivated to help you build your startup into a successful company. Just don’t forget to give them credit for it later down the road.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Alicia Lawrence is writing on behalf of WebpageFX, a full-service Internet marketing, web design and web development agency offering integrated web solutions for medium to large sized businesses across the globe. In her free time, she contributes to Entrepreneur magazine, Create for Cash, and Career Girl Network. Read more from Alicia on her blog MarCom Land. Connect with @webpagefx on Twitter.
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