A small business manager must put on many different hats in order for day-to-day operations to run smoothly and allow your business to thrive. The responsibilities can seem endless. On top of that, there’s a new theme that all businesses must make a priority – company culture.
Google, Facebook, and others flipped the traditional meaning of office culture in a variety of ways. They’re both famous for employee perks that any company would love to have in their own offices. Who wouldn’t want the option for a quick nap? Or, an office barber shop?
Unfortunately, small businesses do not have the luxury to treat their employees to these amenities, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enhance their employee experience. And it’s vital to concentrate on cultural traits that aren’t as materialistic.
Here are a couple of practical actions managers can take to develop a cultural feel in their office:
Learn From Mistakes
The margin for error for mistakes when you’re starting a business is very small. But, they’re also unavoidable. In the high-stress corporate pressure cooker we call America, people often paralyze themselves in fear of potential consequences. The only thing this breeds is inaction.
What can a manager do?
From the start, employees should be encouraged to pursue ideas and projects at full-speed without fear of reprimand. In doing so, it will not only allow your team to exercise their creativity but when they fall flat, it creates a support system. Managers can then assess where a project went wrong, indicate key aspects that worked well and correct the mistake to effectively create a better strategy.
Learning from mistakes is arguably the most significant element in employee growth and company growth. When managers create this sentiment, it communicates trust from the top down and transparent communication – which is also key for growth.
Create Core Values Unique to Your Company Mission
Developing core values that reflect the overall company mission sets the tone for overall company culture. The trick here is finding a team that expresses similar values, or whose goals closely align with those of your small business.
Take Uncharted Supply Company, for example:
They clearly state on this page that their culture revolves around a “community of adventurers and philanthropists.”
It’s not always easy to build a team whose values directly align with the company’s, but these values coupled with the company mission give employees purpose. That purpose then resonates throughout the entire office through goals, team building sessions and strategy meetings. Effectively, this gives employees’ work meaning. As John F. Kennedy said, “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
Source Capital Funding, Inc.’s founder, Sacha Ferrandi, used this sentiment when creating his vision for the mortgage lending company.
These San Diego small business examples show the individual values established from the vision of the founders, and how creating these values encourages purpose and direction for the company. From there, the individuals that make up the company can use their skillsets to feed that vision.
A Team With Skills That Complement Each Other
If there were five Michael Jordan’s on the Chicago Bulls, they might not have won so many championships – even though he’s the greatest player of all-time. People forget that it wasn’t until Scottie Pippen came along that he actually won those championships. What’s the point of this sports analogy? Pippen complemented Jordan’s skillset under the direction of Phil Jackson to succeed.
This can be easily applied in an office culture. Those with similar work styles, roles and skillsets will off-set each other. To promote effective collaboration, it’s important to have a team with differing viewpoints and strategies for solving problems, among others. Managers can then utilize the various strengths and weaknesses of employees to yield the best result on any given project. The key to remember for culture, however, is respect. Your team needs to be able to openly discuss ideas in a respectable environment that encourages these differences.
Which can be accomplished through…
All work and no play is a recipe for employee burnout, which is the antithesis of a solid company culture. If employees are routinely burnout, and turnover is high, your “culture” will be constantly evolving in the worst way. To promote healthy trust and respect for your team, it’s important to set aside time outside of the office so that employees can be themselves. Sure, they might believe deeply in your company values, but they have a life outside of work. Companies that plan regular happy hours, team trips, or office parties give coworkers the opportunity to bond with one another. It also represents gratitude for their hard work.
Going out and supporting a good cause is also a great way to have fun, while also giving back to the community. Home improvement company Renovate America, Inc., for example, took a day off work to participate in Earth Day.
Maintain and Evolve Your Culture
Culture is difficult to build overnight, and it certainly won’t remain constant as your business evolves. It takes work to cultivate everything above, and it needs to be nurtured over time. If you cling too tightly to the established culture or the status quo, you risk smothering the employee freedom that each subsequent point promotes. The people who work for you will change, and so will the goals and values of your business. It’s important to adapt to changing times to ensure that your culture always makes going into the office enjoyable, but as long as the culture maintains its foundation – its core. Some, if not most, companies nowadays have an entire team dedicated to this part of the business. After all, happy employees perform better.
The effects of happy employees aren’t easily quantifiable, but the results are clear. By establishing a few of these basic guidelines, small businesses can enhance the experience of its workforce and grow together. Working well under a clear mission and set of values also makes success easier to attain, and failure easier to overcome.