Why do I want to talk about it?
I deeply believe that if one thing is clear and well-defined, many problems can be solved automagically. For example, have you defined a process well? You probably won’t need 10 30-minute calls just to understand each other and unlock things.
What if we transfer this thought to the entire company? How can things work well if you don’t have a clear definition of who you are?
A few points come to my mind where this awareness is fundamental:
- How does really know who proposes to be hired in which environment he is going to work?
- Do employees know the direction where are they rowing? Are they all doing it the same way?
- The values on which the company were founded are still valid and relevant?
- How do newcomers manage to perceive these values?
So whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee, culture impacts the lives of both of you.
What is a company culture?
I went to see what big companies think about it and I found a lot of interesting things. I recommend you to always begin by observing who knows how to do things.
Among the definitions that I found the one that impressed me the most was this by ustwo:
… it’s how we do things at ustwo. Culture is what we as a community value, expressed through our everyday actions …
So for them, culture is not something you have, but something that emerges from the things you do.
Their culture document clearly shows the desire to define well and transparently what they believe, what they want to do and how, really shines through. It is simple to understand, fluent and concise. By reading it all, you can understand what it would be like to work in it.
How do you create a company culture?
As I see it, defining culture in an existing company is a group effort that must be supervised from above.
Involving employees is essential but, if you are starting your own company and there are two of you, the only difference will be that you will alone.
Defining culture is already a difficult task, and it becomes even more so based on the number of people in the company. The higher the number, the more difficult it is. Everyone has their own needs, values, skills that enrich and complicate the culture.
I thought of a small process that needs to be adapted to your context:
1) The founders write a document where they define these aspects of the company:
- The purpose.
- The mission.
- The vision.
2) In parallel, employees write a document to bring a single voice on:
- What the company is for them.
- Because they wanted to be part of it.
- What motivates them to work here every day.
- Their favourite thing about working here.
3) Founders take both documents and do these things:
- They look for differences between their thinking and reality. OUTPUT → The founders know where I have to work to improve
- They try to combine the aspects they find right of that reality to what they have written. OUTPUT → The company culture document
4) Repeat every certain amount of time or when needed.
I advise you to start as soon as possible in defining who you are because:
- It is easier when the number of people involved is low.
- New hires and candidates will know immediately and unequivocally who you are and where they are going.