It is something you, as a founder or business leader, do every day: make decisions.
A startup is all about making decisions. Big ones. Small ones. Everyday decisions, from which coffee to buy, to huge strategic choices, like do we pitch enterprise clients or small businesses?
Product managers are familiar with the phrase ‘technical debt.’ When shortcuts are made, the quality of products deteriorates, which can cripple anything from apps to enterprise-grade networks. Ben Horowitz, billionaire VC and author, coined the term ‘management debt.’
Making bad management decisions that hurt you in the long-term. These bad decisions – whether it involves political games, being unethical or making a fast buck at the cost of a long-term strategy – corrode and harm an emerging culture.
Crafting a Strong Company Culture
What’s your vision? What set of core values inform the way you do business? No one starts a company without an idea, a gut feeling about what they are doing and why, but often, along the way, vision and reality can diverge.
Reality can force you to set aside your ideals and make questionable decisions. Somewhere down the road you’ve taken on management debt. Stop and reflect. This could be your chance to assess what you should be striving for, what your company’s values are, and how to set the right course, as a team.
Review personal goals and values.
Everyone has personal values and goals. People with a high level of self-awareness and emotional intelligence will be in tune with their values. For some, this will be a moment of awareness and discovery. Not everyone in an organization should share the same values. Difference and diversity are important. The purpose of this exercise is to assess where individual values and goals fit in with organizational values.
Set a company-wide goal.
Look at where you are and where you want to be. Pick a destination, and then map out how you get from A to B. As with all team goals, make these around culture-specific, SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
Appoint a culture leader.
Making someone accountable for setting tasks and monitoring implementation means this won’t suffer from mission creep.
External accountability, even to the same extent as Buffer or Groove, is worth doing if it helps keep your team on track. Not only that, but depending on your target audience, a blog about this journey could generate outsized marketing returns.
Measure and grow.
Once an internal process has been created to guide, monitor and cultivate a stronger culture, you can build on that externally. Find what works as a team, and then think about how you can extend that same culture, value-driven authenticity to your customers.
As we’ve found, the result of creating a strong company culture will be happier customers, who will spread the word about your brand, which is exactly what you need when trying to scale and grow.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Dominic Tarn is a content crafter for Wagepoint, an HR tech company specializing in online payroll, helping to spread the word about the world’s simplest, fastest and friendliest online payroll software.Connect with @Wagepoint on Twitter.