The Battle for Cool Company Culture
There are a thousand different tips and tricks for creating culture in a growing startup. Open offices and open doors. Work together and play together. Reward and recognize great performances. But there’s another important one; the one rule to rule them all (!!). Never force company culture on anyone — it stops being culture, and it stops being fun.
- As your company grows, you will find it increasingly difficult to round up the troops for company gatherings. That’s okay.
- After a certain point, it gets very challenging to find time for fun during the workday. That’s alright.
- Once you’ve grown above 30 people, the foundation of your culture is more or less set. And that’s fine, too.
Any corporate employee will tell you, one of the most tedious parts of their job is the company-wide meeting. It’s because they’re forced gatherings that would have never happened organically. But most of all, it’s because they are usually attempts at giving a shot in the arm to some aspect of company culture.
They’re already stressed by the job; don’t stress them more by making them do something they hate.
Every employee in your company has made a proactive decision to work for you. They decide to come to work everyday. When you eliminate their voices, opinions and choices, they’ll begin to question why they work for a company that doesn’t respect them enough to give them an option.
Solve this problem by creating the time and space for your employees to unwind on their own terms. Go hang out at a local happy hour. If you get responses, great. Have a cookout after work on a Friday. Invite your team to a baseball game. Create the opportunities for your employees to have fun — odds are, they’ll be a hit. Be a great facilitator; never be an enforcer.
Startups won the culture battle, don’t lose the war.
It’s not difficult for startups to authentically create cool, company culture; that’s already half the battle. As a leader, challenge yourself to know at least one fact about every employee. If you can’t hold a conversation with the people you pay every week, you’re beginning to lose the battle. Create opportunities for your team to have fun based on what they care about as individuals.
You’ll never please everyone. But you’ll never please anyone by doing more than planning the best company culture possible, bringing the best people in, and letting startup nature take its course.