Your Business Depends On Your Culture

Jul 9, 2015

The benefits of being part of a strong company culture may be the difference you’re looking for in performance.

A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.
Definition by Texas A&M University.

Ever since the first time I stepped out of the elevator and into the Your Majesty Co. NYC office as a nervous intern, I immediately felt like I was part of something different. I didn’t know what it was but, I knew that I had arrived at an unusual place and it was both intimidating and exciting all at once. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I was surrounded by some of the most extraordinary and talented people in this industry, or maybe, it had to do with the fact that these same people had no egos, took care of each other and would randomly break into sing alongs whenever a power ballad started playing on the speakers.

To this day, I still feel like I’m part of something magical but it’s no longer a mystery to me as to why this place is special. I know today, it’s all about the culture and the people who occupy the space. The culture that was introduced 8 years ago by the founders and kept alive by every past and present YM employee is what really sets us apart.

I’m a firm believer that the value of any business is in the people and the culture. It doesn’t matter how great the talent is or how amazing the product is, a business will never reach the height of its success without a great culture and a happy staff. Having a great culture is not only key to talent retention, according to professor James L. Heskett , culture “can account for 20-30% of the differential in corporate performance when compared with ‘culturally unremarkable’ competitors.”

But what makes for a great culture? Each culture is unique and billions of factors go into creating one. Having said that, I’ve observed a few common components that can be the first step for anyone out there, towards building a differentiated culture and a lasting organization.

1. People

No company can build a great culture without people who either share its core values or possess the willingness and ability to embrace those values. That’s why the greatest companies in the world also have some of the most strictest recruiting policies. Hire not only for a skillset or a role, hire for a true cultural fit. Look around your office right now and ask yourself “who or what would make this place even greater?” – hire for that, whether that is a mentor, a firecracker or a quiet worker bee.

2. Onboarding & Storytelling

Any organization has a unique story and the ability to tell that story is key to culture creation. Empowered, valued and informed employees are more productive, which means helping a new employee get away from being the “new guy” as soon as possible is going to set you up for success. Don’t intimidate with long forms – infuse some company trivia, photos and expectations into the onboarding documents and have fun with it. Also, make sure each new employee gets facetime with as many people as possible on the first day and definitely take them out for lunch.

3. Social Activities & Team Outings

Get out of the office! If you’re not already engaging in activities outside of the office on a regular basis, you’re missing out on some serious culture creation. Off-site activities allow for everyone to develop friendships and trust with each other, which will come very handy as it relates to the efficiency of a project.

4. Ownership & Transparency

An employee who doesn’t know where the company has been and/or where it’s going is generally going to feel lost and not as connected with the greater cause. It is not only helpful to be transparent about the journey the company is taking, it will also create a deeper sense of belonging.

5. Processes, Practices & Flexibility

Values have little to no importance unless they’re actually practiced and incorporated in the way things are done. For instance, if an organization-value is transparency, it has to practice that value through open and honest communication between management and staff. Similarly, if an organization-value is “flat” hierarchy, it must welcome junior staff to speak up and effect change, without fear or negative repercussions.

The above ingredients are just building blocks to help create a foundation for your company culture. Having said that, feel free to spice up the recipe to your taste and needs – every organism is unique.

The average person spends the majority of their waking hours at work with their colleagues, make it memorable.

By Nina Amjadi