Having a well-defined company culture is important at any phase of a startup. It’s a promise that the company is mission-aligned and focused on achieving customer objectives. That’s why established businesses that have been around while can often boast a high exit rate, with plenty of customers remaining happy with their investment. When the exit rate or failure rate of new ventures is 30 sixty percent during the early years, and nearly 25 percent of startups ultimately fail because they do not have the correct team onboard, having a solid established company culture can play such a huge role in decreasing that number dramatically for your business, both directly and indirectly.
Company culture is a collection of beliefs and behaviours that employees engage in day today. For startup businesses, a collection of these behaviours can be as abstract as a corporate code or as detailed as a staff manual. However, defining organizational culture at any phase of a venture can be equally difficult for companies of all sizes, from small upstarts to multi-national corporations. The key is to start somewhere, define a benchmark, then build from there.
One of the biggest problems with defining the company culture in the early years of development is that the business leaders are rarely the ones who set this tone. It’s usually the job of senior managers to communicate expectations with staff, but everyone is so used to operating within the parameters that have been set by management that employees don’t feel like they can question or change anything. The result, of course, is poor morale. Employee engagement rises when business leaders take the lead and begin to outline expectations upfront. If business leaders aren’t vocal about new policies, procedures, or rewards, however, employees won’t feel invested and will simply begin to shop around for employment elsewhere.
A second challenge when it comes to defining company culture lies in creating an environment where employees are comfortable working remotely. The problem with hiring and onboarding employees remotely is that it makes them feel isolated from the company, even if only in terms of communications. Many employees fear the technology behind a company’s products and services, which make them uncomfortable speaking with a representative on a personal level. Developing an environment where employees can openly discuss projects, ask questions, and use online customer service can help solve this issue. Offshore outsourcing can also provide a great opportunity for companies that want to take a proactive approach to hire and onboarding employees.
The third challenge to developing good company culture starts in the boardroom. Every board has a role to play in helping employees understand and support corporate values. A key part of this responsibility is creating an environment where all leaders, from top to bottom, feel comfortable expressing their personal values. Every leader must be willing to listen to the desires and needs of colleagues, as well as fellow board members. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree or be comfortable with every board member’s ideas. However, every leader must demonstrate respect for other people’s opinions and provide a safe space for them to express themselves.
Cultivating strong company values begins with understanding one’s own personal beliefs and behaviours. These are often at odds with one another, so individuals must come to an agreement about what those beliefs and behaviours are before trying to accommodate others’ beliefs and behaviours. Creating a workplace where everyone is comfortable expressing their own personal value system is very important. In addition, companies should consider hiring a consulting firm that can conduct periodic and individual appraisals to help businesses define their core values and hire the best individuals to support those values.
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