Company culture is becoming more and more instrumental when it comes to hiring and retaining top talent. Large companies like Google & Facebook have successfully been able to recruit top prospects because of their cultures and what they represent.
Employees — most notably Gen Y employees — are looking for companies that are fun to work for and doing meaningful things in the world. They want to have the ability to actually make an impact and feel great doing it.
Here are 6 roadblocks to creating and fostering a great company culture:
Follow the Leader
A culture is defined by leadership, and if leadership isn’t dedicated to building a great place to work, it won’t happen. Culture is something that can’t be forced and must be cultivated. Cultural leadership can and should come from all levels. Make very sure you’re leading company culture in the right direction, whether or not you’re leading any teams.
Solution – Make culture a goal and pursue that goal as if it were critical to your business. It is. Seek employee feedback; get an understanding of what motivates your team. Start small, by bringing in bagels on Fridays or rewarding your team with a half day off, to both reward and challenge your team to think about what culture means to them.
Meritocracy Over Mediocrity
A culture where standard 3% raises are expected across the board decreases productivity and leads to turnover of your more talented employees. Use bonuses as real incentives; make it clear you’ll reward top performers and take care of the most successful.
Solution – Establish bonus structures that are directly tied to both company success and individual results. Make clear what is expected of employees, and stress that meeting or exceeding goals will be rewarded. Push your employees; you hired them because they can be great. Then reward them like they are.
Walk and Talk
Companies that foster an environment where all communication is done through emails and online chat ultimately takes the soul out of the environment. Chat and emails are good for quick points but if you’re trying to convey a clear and concise message that will not get misinterpreted do it face-to-face.
Solution – Encourage office conversation and collaboration. When conversation happens in person, ideas and thoughts get vetted and ultimately improved upon. Add life to your company by good old fashioned face-to-face conversation.
Working in a Box
People can only take so much of life in a cubicle, working under fluorescent lights day in and day out. If your office only knows multiple colors of beige and has enough fluorescent lighting to be considered a tanning bed, you need to change things up.
Solution – Inject some color into the office. Create alternative work areas with couches and comfy chairs. If possible, have an outside area that workers can plug-in and enjoy a beautiful day. Simply put: get your employees away from their desks, into creative and collaborative spaces, as much as possible.
Addition by Subtraction
To often companies allow poor and negative employees to continue to be a drain on its culture. News flash: talented people leave because companies fail to address those employees that simply do not perform.
Solution – Stop the spread of destructive attitudes and work ethics. Clearly define what is expected from each employee, and regularly update them on their performance and challenge them to meet new goals. If someone is constantly underperforming and — worse yet — doing it with a negative attitude, it is time to give them their walking papers.
The Next Big Thing
There’s a very famous recruiting adage: “A people hire A+ people, but B people hire C people”. It means that the truly talented are secure enough — and smart enough — to recognize and hire someone better than them. When talent walks in the door, they can take advantage. Conversely, mediocrity breeds mediocrity. The mostly-good don’t want to and can’t find top level talent.
Solution – Be the person to bring in The Next Big Thing. Challenge yourself to only hire A+ talent, whether or not it means they can end up being the star. Injecting top talent into a company will drive not only culture but performance as well.
Ultimately, culture is built through people. Ensure the right leadership is in place and that your hiring and retaining the best employees. Clear goals and communication will drive culture. Make developing a culture a priority, the easy part is talking about culture the hard part is living & breathing it.