How can you start thinking about your company culture

Mar 2 / Flavia Richardson
When you start your own company, it is both exciting and daunting to be totally in charge of company culture. You are the one who sets the standards and the rules. Want your staff turning up to work in whatever clothing they want? You set the standard. Want your staff to feel comfortable bringing their own personality to work? You set this in place. In short, the culture of your company is the culture that you deem desirable.
So, how do you go about thinking about creating a company culture in closer detail?  

Think about who your clientele will be 

Every good business finds a way of reflecting the voice of their ideal client. While not every business has one client in mind, you should have a rough idea of the broad demographic you cover. For example, say your business is aimed at teenagers and young adults. Today, businesses find their corporate culture should reflect an informal, open-minded, and more youthful approach. This should come across in your language, your dress code, and the products/services you offer.

By the same token, though, selling to professional business owners would require a total change in tone from the above. Your company culture should be built around trying to mimic and reflect who your main clients will be. 

Listen to the people that you employ 

While as business owner you are in full control, only a fool would ignore the insight of their staff. You should therefore be willing to listen and learn from your staff. Ask them about the culture they want to reflect. Make sure that you have a team who feel comfortable adapting to the kind of culture that you want to bring in as a business owner.
Get your own team onside first and foremost, and it is much easier to then bake that culture into the very fabric of your business.

Set key standards and ways of working. Every good business will have its foundational core of how things are done. For example, you should look to create a culture where staff can be themselves but in a way that does not impact work getting done. Do not build a company culture that feels like school. Seeing your staff chatting and enjoying camaraderie is fine. You should only really look to enforce working standards if you notice a drop-off in productivity.

By having the standard of work hard and play hard, you create a business that encourages hard work without inhibiting creativity, confidence, or staff co-operation. 

Always be willing to learn 

Of course, one of the main facets of any good company culture is that you should be willing to learn and adapt. When thinking about company culture, involve prominent stakeholders. This could include your most senior staff members. Speak about the idea of developing a culture of work. How do you want your staff to represent the company?

Do not rule by dictatorial thinking, though; give your team the chance to put in their own thoughts and feelings. Who do they want to represent?

Being open to learn means, oftern as a founder you have to take a step back to evaluate your own behaviour and develop an awareness, a simple job would not require. Founders have to always thread a difficult line between inspiring and convincing the people around you, as well as set an example of what is the appropriate workplace behaviours that as a group are acceptable. It means the culture setting process is not just an idealist list of words but it revolves around who you are and how you project those internal behaviours to people around you. 

Keep these factors in mind, and you can find it easier to think about company culture. Instead of seeing this as an abstract or nebulous concept, this can make it a bit easier to start really thinking closely about what kind of business you want to build.  


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