At ITA, we have a small team of ten people. Our culture tends to evolve around the people we hire, being such a small team. It makes my job, being the resident “people person” on staff, straightforward. However, I speak with tech companies every day that are working to build a culture that makes employees want to come work there and stay once they’re there! While I do not think most ideas are one size fits all, there are a lot of very simple ways to start on the right path.
The number one takeaway from this blog should be communication! Having a culture of open communication and transparency is the one thing that has consistently resonated with employees. This clarity also starts at the top, with leadership. How to communicate will vary by company. It could be as simple as regular emails from the CEO, town hall meetings or even signs in the bathroom! Communication tends to be relatively easy when a company is small. But it becomes more of a challenge as it grows.
Communication tends to be relatively easy when a company is small. But it becomes more of a challenge as it grows.
I worked for a company that kept that “startup” feel for a very long time but as they approached 1000 employees, that became hard, and they had to get creative (hence the bathroom signs!). If leaders are transparent, employees will be more likely to be as well. Transparency can benefit the organization in numerous ways. They will take to online and social platforms such as Glassdoor to talk about how much they love working there which can lead to a strong community reputation and more hires and referrals. Employees that see leaders being transparent will be more likely to have honest conversations with their direct manager. Clear communication can lead to higher performance and lower turnover.
Company culture can also be cultivated at the individual team level as well. I have seen great hiring managers create a superb culture within their teams. Getting to know each employee not only at the professional level but learning something personal about them, will help find out what drives them to success. Some people need more check-ins while others want less but still, need recognition. A good manager will get to know his/her team and make these assessments to manage them best.
Company culture can also be cultivated at the individual team level as well.
I have seen this as proof that it can create very successful managers with which others want to work! These same managers also tend not always to be all work but implement some “play.” Taking team lunches, organizing a team volunteer day or showing little ways of appreciation can all grow happier employees.
I would be remiss if I did not mention how important hiring is to creating a first-rate culture. Many managers tend to hire folks that are like themselves. While this is not always a bad thing, it limits the diversity of ideas on a team. I stress the familiar adage;
“don’t look for culture fit, but culture add.” – Trisha Degg
Always remembering this phrase when hiring can create more creative, well-rounded teams. Your customers don’t all the same, why should your employees? Millions of startups pop up every year. Be among the fortunate minority who break out in large part because they hold unwaveringly to building and supporting a robust culture.
– Trisha Degg, Director of Talent Programs at Illinois Technology Association