How Do You Build an Awesome Company Culture?

I was chatting with the CEO of a growing tech firm recently and he asked me, “What are the keys to building an awesome company culture?” 

Great question. However, I think first we should clear up a common misunderstanding with many corporate cultures, mainly:

PERKS FOR EMPLOYEES DO NOT EQUAL CULTURE

Whether or not you get to bring your dog to work, how many energypods are made available to you. The amount of in-house baristas making your coffee. All these things are perks. Culture is created when employees, suppliers and investors understand how their daily work contributes to fulfilling the vision of the company.

Unfortunately as my old boss, Kit & Ace CEO Darrell Kopke, used to say "company culture is often the unresolved issues of its management team.” 

Great company culture is a byproduct of consistent behaviour. Therefore, to build it, a CEO/Founder should:

1. Paint a specific and vivid vision of where the company is going

2. Ensure all employees, suppliers and investors have a clear understanding of that vision and the company's business model. Preferably through a radically simple Strategic Plan (think two pages or less). 

3. Schedule quarterly or monthly meetings that act as a release valve for teams to air ideas and issues on everything from strategy to interpersonal interaction. This way nothing negative festers and the organization can focus on the best opportunities for growth.

4. Steps 2 + 3 are revisited on a regular basis so people remain accountable.  

A company culture is best when it is wholly a reflection of the people running the business. Not everyone needs to be VC-backed startup filled with hipsters using artisanal beard oil. If you’re unabashedly passionate about healthcare software and could care less if your office is in SoMa, be that. Just be yourself. And encourage your people to be themselves. You’ll continue to attract people that share those values.

So here’s the first step to building a strong culture: making sure you have a specific vision for where you want the company to go. Here’s a questionnaire I use with clients to help create that vision.  

I would love to engage and hear any thoughts and success stories you have on building a company culture. Leave a comment below with your response so we can talk!

- Aaron