Organizational culture is comprised of consistent practices that build into a company’s cadence. Every business has a cadence -- the pulse at which the company operates on a day-to-day basis that includes how and when things get accomplished and by whom.
Culture is different from climate. Culture refers to how things get done whereas climate describes what it’s like to work for someone. The habits and routines, systems and processes that play into a company’s agenda are what determine its culture -- and ultimately, its bottom line.
However, old habits die hard, and implementing new routines at scale is exponentially more difficult that doing so for just a small team. Start your business off on the right foot and consider the following methods when tweaking your company’s culture:
1. Play musical chairs.
Hopefully, office cubicles are not part of your startup’s makeup, because if they are, employees won’t have the option to sit next to someone new every day as they would in an open floor plan. Rotating physical presence around the office forces interaction between people and prevents cliques from forming. As a result, new conversations emerge, leading to new ideas and perspectives. Employees learn more about each other and hence grow their internal awareness of the company.
2. Get up and get after it -- together.
There’s an old saying that “couples who workout together, stay together.” Additionally, studies show that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to stick with their routine than those who wait to sweat later in the day. Consider a team fitness schedule where employees generate their own workout or physical training plan.
“Who has time to work out as an entrepreneur?” you ask? Everyone. Time is inelastic. It’s constant and everybody has the same amount of time. Scheduling, however, is a matter of priority.
Put it this way: if your health declines then so does your daily performance, and if your performance (physical and mental) isn’t up to par, then neither is your business.
3. Have everybody interview.
Soliciting employees from every level to participate in interviews communicates two things. First, it conveys that everyone’s perspective counts and that they have a say in the company’s culture. Second, it screens the job applicant for fit because not everyone takes an interview seriously when conducted by a 22 year old, for example.
4. Fuse functions together.
When Gen. (Ret.) Stan McChrystal was head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), he implemented “fusion cells,” which served as a means to force and foster a culture of transparency and inclusion by cross-pollinating disparate organizations with divergent interests. The results were astounding: 18 special operations missions conducted per month in 2004 to over 300 per month in 2008.
5. Greet people.
Establish a rule for people to share one positive aspect about themselves or another daily, or ask people to share what they’re grateful for. Doing so does two things: When you repeatedly search for positive meaning in situations and interactions, you build the habit of looking for the positive in everything you do. As a result (and the second reason), by associating positive images and feelings while at work you also create anchors of positivity towards your work. In other words, by constantly associating reward with work, your brain begins to feel that work is more and more rewarding.
Culture is key to the success of your business as it represents its brand, strategy and execution. Identify the habits that create the results and culture you want and continually optimize your company’s performance.