Founders and managers of new companies must build their organization with their leadership. They need to build it in terms of clientele, product and service with a clear vision. What is not spoken about nearly enough is that leaders are also building a start-up culture with clear values and one that is ready to take on whatever it must endure to stay in business.
Start-ups thrive on pivoting, trying and dropping methods and programs and then trying something else. It is important for management to take on the leadership role to ensure the culture is there to do exactly that.
Within Human Resources, hire based on fit has increasingly become more central to their hiring processes and plans. Hiring for company culture is choosing employees based on how well they reflect and add to the values of the business. This is a departure from hiring based on skills and task-based knowledge only.
How can you go about developing a start-up culture that fits you like a glove?
Know where you are and where you want to be
What do you want to accomplish each and every day? Forget about your business plan – what should happen daily and how would you like this done.
Communicate that vision clearly and continuously
Refer to your vision and its guiding principles. At Kaleidoscope I encourage mentoring, strategic focus and collaboration. I ask of my colleagues to be focused and ask them to keep me focused if they feel I am straying away from my core business. This moves us forward, keeps us honest, open to learning and builds a strong team.
Focus on how you can accomplish something
A culture that focuses on the negative side of a start-up – all those things you tried out that failed to take off! – is not conducive to new ideas, to having fun and building camaraderie. No matter how you define fun, a culture that supports an employee’s creativity in figuring out how something can work is more productive.
Hire people based on culture compatibility
To build and strengthen your culture, employ people that have similar or the same values. It is said that your culture is half-set once your team is hired. That’s why interview questions have altered quite dramatically. People are more often asked, “What’s your favourite movie?” or to share their motivation for a particular decision, then asked to describe how they carried out a particular task.
This trend is increasing with the millennials who care more about company culture. Research shows that millennials typically stay in a job for two years and rather have a less hierarchical and flexible culture for a company with social values.
Allow for stress relievers at work
Many start-ups are so intense and so driven, that employees need the ability to blow of steam at the workplace. Examples are installing foosball, allowing employees to take catnaps, offering cool perks. Whatever tool you choose to support your employees, make it part of your vision.
As Founder of Kaleidoscope and Business Mentor, Lisette Andreyko works with start-ups on gaining strategic focus. She is passionate about leadership development in start-ups.