Company Culture: What it is and How to Get There

By Leen Bogerd

Having a startup comes with the turmoil of opportunities and setbacks while putting all your effort in thriving forward, and reaching for the stars. But it is easily forgotten that it’s in the early stage of starting-up, that you’re setting the culture can be set for years later.

And where there are people, there is culture. At its core. one could say that culture is the way a team works together based on their idea of what the company’s values and goals are. Shaping a strong culture where people know what they strive for, that makes your employees have fun, willing to work hard, and where they can develop themselves will make a huge difference in the success of your company.

This will not only be reflected in just your employees individually, but on your company as a whole as well, like Google, who has topped the lists of companies that are the best to work at for for years. But how do you work on having a healthy and challenging culture in your company?

To answer that we’ve gathered a number of tips:

1 Plan your culture

Let’s start optimistically. You can consciously set a company culture. It starts with trying to make your employees being comfortable. Not by taking away uncertainty, but by defining clear guidelines for your employees to work with in this somewhat chaotic process. These guidelines come down to your company’s goals, values, and way of working. Think of things like how your decision processes work, how responsibilities are divided, and how and through which mediums do you communicate within the team.

2 Motivate by play, purpose or potential

As an employee you want to to do work that you enjoy for the right cause, so make sure everyone in the team understands and agrees on the vision, mission and potential and to put people in their sweet spot. It has been studied that this creates a strong healthy motivation and makes your team be able to cope with hardships even better. Invest in your workforce, and it will pay off!

3 Hiring is dating

Finding the right person for the right job is not only looking at CVs and experience. Getting a cultural and personal click is equally as important. You can do that by inviting a candidate to a more informal moment like a lunch, or to let the candidate work together with different members of the team. And ask the question how the candidate will add to the existing set of skills, characters and experiences. Otherwise a very competent but cultural mismatch will eventually frustrate the process and become a burden. And this goes even more when you just started and the team is small.

4 Be and involve the culture carriers

As a founder or CEO, you lead your employees by the example that you give. If you are late for meetings, employees will think that being on time is not important, even if you say that it is. On the other hand; if you work hard and keep sharing the company’s potential and value, employees will be able to do the same and work accordingly. In a growing company where people will be given responsibility, there will also be certain employees that are exceptionally good in carrying the company culture. They usually are the people that are decisive and charismatic, and that set the atmosphere informally. These will be the employees that can motivate others to stay focussed and committed like they are, and the ones to talk to when you wanna change things for the better.

5 Get to know each other personally

Trust and loyalty towards each other is the backbone of culture and teamwork. And the way to gain it is when people get to know each other on a more personal level and feel free to laugh and share hardships. Therefore, be accessible and genuinely interested in eachother. Go on team outings or drinks after working hours, laugh about jokes, insert memes in internal emails, make working together fun, and check-up with your employees in informal meetings just to get in touch with where they stand and what they do.