'Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company. ' — Brian Kristofek, President and CEO, Upshot.
More often than not, the entrepreneurial journey begins with Founders along with a few like minded people coming together to solve a problem. However, as the business grows, new team members join in to further its growth.
This is where it becomes important to ensure that a proper organizational culture is being incorporated as the business evolves. Culture is not something that can be set at one time, it also evolves as the business expands.
In a way, it might be not wrong to say that culture is what the organization is made of. From every action, behavioral practices, to policies reflects the culture of a business and eventually plays a crucial role in maintaining the spirit of the team members.
Having a great product or service is extremely important for the success of your organization. However, do note that the product’s success depends on the team making them the most crucial asset for any organization. Running a business requires effort from not just the Founder but each and every team member. The work culture should be inclusive to cater to everyone’s requirements to make them feel a part of the team.
So how do you build a positive culture as your organization grows? Here are a few things to keep in mind for ensuring an inclusive and positive culture for your organization.
- Agility: Every organization might have its own set of vision and style of work that you want to achieve. But it is crucial to understand that the environment is constantly changing and it is important for a business to adapt and change accordingly. Culture is all about behavior and actions. Staying agile to the changes that happen along the way and reflecting it in your behavior nd actions is what will make the team feel the sense of belonging. For example, over the years work has always been considered as a process where employees are to go to the office and be physically present to show that the work is getting done. However, amid the COVID-19 led disruptions, businesses realized that office and physical presence is not a mandatory need for work thereby many organizations enabled hybrid and flexible work culture helping many employees to dedicate time for themselves and family.
If businesses had failed to make this shift, it would have led to a lot of dissatisfaction among the employees. Keep a look out for such larger or even smaller changes and adopt your actions accordingly that suits the team members. Also it is crucial to stay open to ideas and debates from the members. Understanding their challenges and making the necessary transformations is what helps in making a culture inclusive in nature.
- Onboarding: Focus on choosing the right talent for your organization. Depending on the business and job requirements, try to reach people who are the best fit for the role even if not a 100 percent match in terms of their technical skills. Once you go for hiring, be clear about what kind of start you want for the role and make decisions accordingly.
Once hired, understand that onboarding is a crucial learning phase for the new member. It is during this phase that you need to ensure that the new employee is aligned with your vision and cultural values. All the requirements for the job needs to be completely communicated to the new member and you should also stay open to their suggestions as every organization may have different policies to abide by. Thus, it is advisable to spend a few days or weeks to make sure that the new member is being able to learn and grasp the needs of the organizations. For example, if your company requires your team to take late evening meetings due to a follow-the-sun team structure, this must be communicated to the new worker as to why this is needed as a part of the onboarding.
- Change Ambassadors: Do you remember class prefects and monitors back in school? When teachers were not available or alone were not able to connect with a large group of students, a trusted few were selected to ensure that the teacher’s message reached all. A similar approach can prove to be beneficial at a workplace. As a new team member joins, advice and guidance from their seniors at work is the most reliable source for them to understand the company and its vision. As an organization, a few trusted and reliable team members who have been working for a long time can be selected as the ‘change ambassadors.’ They can help the new members get adjusted to the organization and connect with its vision. Note that Change Ambassadors are different from assigning buddies. Buddies are assigned to help onboard new employees, while Change Ambassadors are champions of the company vision and strategy.
- Transparency: Founders alone are not enough to build a successful company. As a founder, you will always need an army of trusted team members to help achieve the goal. But to ensure this, transparency is of utmost importance especially at the early stage.
However, it is crucial to place a few filters in place to keep a check on what information flows where. As a Founder, there will be employees from different levels, so it is crucial to filter information as and when required. Transparency does not mean opening your books, it means identifying what information can be shared with what level of maturity of your team and then ensuring you share it consistently and effectively.
- Scaling Culture: An organization’s culture is not a one time event. As a business, you need to constantly review and rebuild your culture. With every change, every requirement, your culture should evolve and scale to an ever increasing team size and diversity. If you take up an activity that helps imbibe the team culture that you roll back in the future since its not scalable, you have failed at building a scaling culture. E.g. If you do a yearly offsite with your entire team when you are 30 members strong, but cannot back it up when you are 300 and only do leadership offsite, you have not been able to effectively scale your company culture.
To summarize, an organization’s behavior and actions is what defines its culture. Ensuring that the business adapts to the changing environment and realigns its practices to help its employees is crucial to maintain the balance between the company and the team.
As an organization, also remember to be transparent as much as possible. One person alone is not enough to lead the company to success. You need a team to help achieve this goal and it is only possible when you successfully establish a relationship or trust and inclusiveness.
The article borrows heavily from the significant insights shared by Neetha Thomas, VP of Human Capital & Administration, LogiNext at ‘The Culture Curiosity,’ organized by Scalix in association with IDFC Bank.
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