Creating an Environment Where People Flourish
Written by Philip Cornell
August 22 2018
Establishing and maintaining workplace culture is often what separates a temporarily good company from a great and long lasting one. This is not only because people work better when they are in a good environment, but if you take a step back, people also want to work for a company with a good culture. So the next generation of employees that you hire will be much better if you have an attractive culture, and you will get your pick of the best that the market has to offer. So as a business leader, how do you create and sustain ideal company culture for your workplace?
First, write it down. This is the easiest and most useful step of culture creation. In companies like Warby Parker and Etsy they have a written list of things that they think are most important to the culture, and they post this list around the office. Etsy’s includes fun points like “We keep it real, always.” Warby Parker includes slightly ambiguous ones like "Get out there." But both also have more serous ones like Etsy's “We plan and build for the long term.” Both are equally important to remind your employees every day. These lists should be relatively short, and should be easy to remember. But it is good to have them posted around the office, so that your employees remember to “keep it real.”
Second, it is a necessity to remember that the culture flows from the top. In the most recent popular breakdown of Silicon Valley Culture, Uber’s problems all stemmed from upper management. The company began like many of the Silicon Valley startups: fun, innovative, open, and altogether an exciting workplace. But when the upper level management started to shut themselves off, and stopped coming up with new ideas, this effect trickled down through the company. Thus, Uber’s culture started to falter and the only way that they could get the company to get on track again was to replace their leaders. 2017 for Uber saw the replacement of executives from their CEO to their top lawyers to their head of sales across many different continents. Hopefully Uber's company culture is being refurbished, but if you enforce the culture through solid managers and executives, the painful process of cleaning house can be avoided.
Last, for whatever culture that you want to establish, you need to make sure that it is being upheld. To ensure this, regular feedback is needed. But nobody wants just to do a survey that you send out on Friday afternoons. Instead, try making feedback sessions something to look forward to, like where everybody gets out of the office early on a day and eats dinner together. Obviously for huge companies, this can be done within specific teams or departments, but try to obtain feedback through different methods than just a tedious written survey.
Ensuring that good company culture is established is paramount to the success of a business and also just your happiness as a manager or leader. By writing down these short and simple rules you can help this become reality. Then to continue the culture that you initially established, make sure that excecutives are enforcing this with their actions and words, and get constant feedback from employees in fun ways. Hopefully these tips ensure that your office is a place that you look forward to going to every day, and that your employees do as well.