Company Culture

It can be a daunting task to create a proper company culture for those just starting out in the game. Even the pros make some mistakes from time to time.

Luckily, the professionals don’t shy away from sharing their secrets to success. As such, we’ve compiled a list of six common mistakes to avoid if you want to play in the big leagues: 

1. Focusing Your Company Culture on The Fringes 

It’s no use concentrating on those who will not adapt to your idea of company culture. Look for like-minded people to create the team of your dreams.

You might think that if a more anti-social employee is accepting of your idea, everybody will be. That is a trap you don’t want to fall into.

Not everybody will enjoy your ideas. That’s a given. Everyone is different and has individual needs. You’ll be better off if you focus on your team’s overall needs, rather than getting everybody on board.

Who knows, maybe those who are opposed to this will soon join in on the party — especially if they feel they have a reason to.

2. Not Focusing on the "Why" of Your Company 

Speaking of reasons, what’s the purpose behind your company? And we’re not only talking about making a profit. What do you hope to achieve with your business?

If you don’t give a purpose to your business, people will only work for your money. Find the right people who believe in your purpose. They will put in the effort just for the sake of your company.

It is just human nature to want to work for a common goal with someone else. Just getting stuck in the routine of “go to work, go home” and cashing in your paycheck is demoralizing.

Focusing on the “why” of your company gives people a reason to get up in the morning. Concentrating on a common cause can do wonders for your business.

Even your customers will feel more attracted to your business model with this method. People are naturally inclined to rationalize with whom they want to associate. If you rationalize it FOR them, their trust will go down.

Don’t force your advertising on them. Let your clients realize for themselves that the “why” of your company fits with their world view.

3. Not Understanding the Purpose of Communication 

Speaking of goals, you need to understand how communication can be the biggest boon to your company culture.

It’s a common belief that you need to see an ad seven times before you get the message. That applies to company policies as well. Make sure your employees understand what needs to be done, even if it takes you seven times to repeat it.

Of course, not everyone on your team will appreciate this form communication. Some people are not that sociable, or their work schedule makes it difficult to accommodate too much chit-chat.

You shouldn’t neglect these people either. You don’t necessarily have to get them to become social butterflies, after all. However, do check in on their progress and give them some attention from time to time. It lets them know you’re not ignoring them on purpose.

Everybody on your team is valuable. Make the most out of each member’s talents.

4. Not Adopting A Positive Attitude 

No, we’re not talking about being cheery all the time. There is a time and place for everything. Still, to boost your employees’ confidence, their leader must not show signs of negativity.

Let’s say you, as a company leader, have some problems at home. Your roof is leaking, or your power is out. You come to work and show your employees you are angry.

Your employees won’t know what the issue is, but they WILL sense the negative vibes you’re giving out.

Think about it. Would you work to the best of your abilities if you were worried that your boss is about to snap?

You probably wouldn’t. Leadership requires you to have a positive attitude, no matter what goes on in your personal life.


5. Not Thinking About Long-Term Goals 

Remember the part about how people will only work for your money if you don’t give them a purpose? Make sure your purpose is something grand — something your employees can believe in.

If your only purpose is to make a short-term profit, why bother? Many businesses that have had potential ultimately failed because they never thought about long-term plans.

It’s the same case for Kickstarter projects that promise the moon and the stars but fail to foresee future problems.

A good leader can form a coherent plan and stick to it. Make sure to think of any possible interferences along the way.

One thing to remember is this: Never bite off more than you can chew. Understand your team’s capabilities and don’t undertake projects you can’t possibly finish.

It only puts a strain on your team, and they’ll end up hating you for it. Plus, you only waste precious time and money on things that won’t bring you a profit.

6. Not Looking Out for Your Employees' Needs 

Sure, it’s good to nurture the individual talents of your employees. But think of how those talents can benefit the team at large. In other words, don’t pick favorites.

In your team-building sessions, ask your employees honest questions. What do they need? Why do they work for you? Do they enjoy working for you? What can you do to improve their mood and productivity?

It helps you better understand what makes your team tick. You also find out one important thing: How each individual can benefit the team.

You might discover that some of your testing team members are better suited as developers. Or someone on your HR team is better suited as a manager.

It all comes down to how well you manage your team, and how well you understand their talents. That doesn’t sound so hard, does it?

Tagged: Company Culture

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(Yes, that's a real middle name!) is the CEO and Co-founder of Sift. You may remember him from such adventures as being a 2013 Venture for America Fellow, Co-founding Rebirth Realty and serving for 7 years in the US Marine Corps.