Creating a Positive Office Culture in Your Business
As a leader, being nice can create a more positive work environment for you and the people you’re leading. It can also help the people on your team have the confidence they need to perform at their best. Kindness is so important to Craig Dubitsky that he built an entire company around the idea and incorporated it into his title: friendly founder of hello products.
Craig came up with the idea of a naturally friendly oral care company when he was looking for toothpaste in a Manhattan drugstore. “I looked at the shelf, and I saw these products that literally had pictures of extracted teeth on them,” he says. “I really love brand and design and form and shape and all sorts of visual cues. I kept thinking, If you’re trying to sell me toothpaste, why on earth would you ever show me an extracted tooth?” When he looked at the ingredient list, things didn’t get much better. “There were, in some cases, ingredients that had been banned from other consumer products years before. Yet we were putting these things in our mouths, and in our children’s mouths, a few times a day. I thought that was crazy.”
The first thing Craig did was work with a formulator who became the head of research and development for hello. Once they had the “goop,” as he calls it, figured out, and had determined how to make hello a profitable business, he turned his time and attention to his company’s values and the people who would represent them.
“I think if you’re starting a company and you have this concept you want to bring to fruition, you’ve got to make sure that you’re trying to stand for something,” he says. “One of the first things most people connect with is the name of somethingit -- can either be instantly, ‘Wow!’ or kind of forgettable. The naming thing is really key. For us and our brand, I dreamt up this word ‘hello’ because I was trying to think of the friendliest word I could think of simply because everything else in oral care seemed remarkably unfriendly.”
Office culture tips
If you want to create a company that engages consumers and the employees working hard to serve them, here’s how Craig does it:
Believe in generational wealth
Craig says starting a business gives you the opportunity to “choose your family.” Since everyone works together, everybody is an equity stakeholder. “We’re owners of the business. That, to me, makes a big difference. The idea is, you should feel motivated and excited about what we’re doing, and know that we care as much about each other as we do about the brand. It’s part of our values to create value and to offer value to people. If we create value for our stakeholders, they should all do well.” Craig says making every employee a stakeholder has a dramatic impact because the benefits last for generations. As he puts it, “There’s a ripple effect.”
Believe in an open environment
Craig says when you tell someone who works outside the marketing department that they can’t come to a marketing meeting or someone who isn’t a designer that they can’t weigh in on a design, you’re making a mistake. “Good ideas can come from anybody,” he says. “That’s the kind of environment we want. That’s the culture we have. No one has sole dominion over good ideas. We don’t ever put anybody in a silo as that’s demotivating and unfriendly -- and it doesn’t allow folks to create their biggest impact.”
Shine a light on everyone’s talents
No matter what business you’re in, if you’re working with at least one other person, Craig says it’s imperative to know what skills your partner has outside your company. “The idea is to make sure you find a way to let those talents shine and come through and help your business. If you’re running a larger organization, figure out new ways to tap into the talent that’s sitting right in your midst.”
Hire people who are passionate about things outside of work
“I think people make the mistake of thinking, ‘You just have to be passionate about my brand -- just about my brand.’ It feels really good to think folks are passionate about the brand, but we’re trying to be sure people have outside passions because it shows a level of emotional depth that’s really critical.” Craig says when you’re starting a business, it’s going to be an emotional roller coaster. “To know that people have the ability to pull back into a place of passion, emotional excitement, and security and then, hopefully, aim just properly and let that go, you’re going to slingshot into the future to a better place.”
Go out of the way to take care of your team
“We have a great CEO. We have a great head of sales. We have a great head of marketing. We have a great head of finance, as well as a great head of supply chain, and a great R&D lead. Everyone really punches well above their weight. Part of my job is to magnetize the company to attract the best people, energize the brand, then basically, get out of the way so that the smartest, best people can do their smartest, best work,” Craig says. Last but not least, he adds, you should strive to create an environment where people love what they do: “You have to put the magic above the math. If you get the magic right, the math takes care of itself.” Yes, creating a company that’s good for your stakeholders and shareholders is critical, but so is taking care of the people who show up to work with you every day.