I want to talk about company culture and leadership. It’s something you often see discussed in webinars, conferences, and TED Talks.
I’ve come to realize what culture and leadership are for my company. Both are very specific to each organization.
How do you define and drive your company culture?
Culture can be so broad and vague. Oftentimes, I get asked the question, “How do we even define company culture?”
You want to start with your core values, your mission and vision for your company.
Those are the components that drive your company culture, and are also what determines if your company culture works.
This is why we always hear success stories of founders creating the company vision, mission and values and applying them into hiring the right people to fill the seats they needed in order to help their company grow.
The right culture starts with the right people
Do you want a fun working environment? Then you should hire people who know how to balance work with fun and warm friendliness. Do you want a driven work culture? Then you should hire people who are hungry for achieving your current goals and beyond.
A huge part of cultivating your company culture does start in the hiring phase. You want to hire people who are the right culture fit for your company.
That is particularly important because if you hire someone who isn’t the best fit for your company’s culture, it can drive down all aspects of it, affecting productivity and outcomes.
You really want to be careful about what kind of people you are hiring because you want to make sure that you’re hiring people that mesh with your existing teams and add value to your company.
Hire the right people, fire the wrong ones
That sounds harsh, but think of it as being fiercely protective of your company culture. Give everyone a probation period, and if by the end of that period you really can’t see that the new hire has chemistry with your company culture, let them go. Don’t get stuck trying to make that new hire work out.
Nobody really likes to fire people— no matter who we are and what kind of business leaders we’ve grown to be. It sucks. That’s why I think you should do your best to make the right choices with the right candidates in the first place. But even then, ensure that you are assessing to see if they mesh well with your company culture.
Be the leader who drives company culture
Company leadership also drives culture.
You may just be getting started with your business and you’re playing all roles within your company. Or you may be a bit more advanced as a business owner and you’ve stepped away from the middle of things.
No matter what stage of entrepreneurship you are in, the onus is on you to be a leader. Leadership is your responsibility as you strive to grow as a startup, or as your company reaches that middle or advanced level of enterprise with a growing number of employees.
But really, company culture remains in your hands as the business leader. All of it is driven by you. Because you’re the person who created the company. You’re the one who created the mission, vision and values of the company and ultimately you are in charge of ensuring that they are met.
Over time as your business grows, you must continue to drive your company values. Your vision and mission might change a bit to accommodate your company as it grows, but the core tenets remain the same.
As a leader, it’s your job to make sure your company culture continues to dictate the current and future goals and environment of your company.
Don’t let up. Stay vigilant.
When the leader of a company neglects the company culture, when people start trickling in whose behaviors don’t align with your company values, it’s like cancer. It will spoil your work environment and outcomes. When you’re not fiercely protective of your culture, when you let in and keep people you should actually fire, that cancer spreads and it sickens your business.
Continue disseminating your culture to every single person in your company. Every single employee should be, should work, and should behave in line with your company values. That includes you. No one is exempt.
You shouldn’t keep employees who don’t adhere to your company culture. When you fire such people who create drama or disrupt your peace, you’re being a leader, you’re making the executive decision the rest of your company needs.
Protecting your company culture rests on you as the leader. It’s better for everyone’s morale.
This is how you drive your company culture through your leadership. First, by establishing a healthy culture, and second, by protecting it.