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company culture

Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Employer Brand and More

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Employer Brand and More

Here’s a mix of the latest news on employer brand, culture, employee referrals and more. Enjoy! 

1) Employer Branding Best Practices for Small Businesses and Startups from 42Hire

“One of the most overlooked challenges that small businesses and startups face as they experience growth is their ability to become competitive when looking for high quality employees. Many of these small businesses and startups are competing for the same talent as much larger, more established organizations, ranging from Enterprise level companies to established mid-sized businesses and other small businesses. While it’s hard enough to find the right person to fill a role, it becomes an even more daunting task when you are a relative unknown commodity in a hyper competitive market…”

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: All About Culture

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: All About Culture

At exaqueo, we believe that culture is the way in which you work--the norms and values that define who you are as a business and what makes you different. It's how you get work done and the way people are expected to behave. Culture is your foundation and then your build your business around it. That said, here’s the latest news on workplace culture. Enjoy!

1) The Ultimate Guide to Improving Workplace Culture from SnackNation

“Improving workplace culture is a thorny issue for most business leaders. It’s something that they probably know is important, but can’t quite get a handle on. Finance, strategy, product development, operations – those are the tangible, measurable elements of their business.

But Culture? That’s the definition of the “soft stuff,” the stuff they probably skimmed over in business school, the stuff that makes their eyes glaze over whenever speakers bring it up at conferences. However, more and more leaders are learning it’s no coincidence that the biggest, best, and most innovative companies also happen to have great cultures. In fact, so often these companies are great precisely because they have phenomenal workplace cultures…”

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Workplace Trends

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Workplace Trends

Here’s the latest on workplace trends, hiring and culture. Kick-off the last week of Summer with this mashup. Enjoy!   

1) 17 Proven Morale Boosters That Won’t Break The Bank from SnackNation

“Believe it or not, some companies are still skeptical about the value of morale boosters. Sure, morale is nice to have, their argument goes, but it’s not critical to our business, and therefore not something I need to focus on. Right? Well, Doubty McDoubterson, you couldn’t be more wrong. The benefits of high employee morale in your company can be summed up in one word: performance…”

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Culture + Hiring

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Culture + Hiring

Culture and hiring go hand-in-hand. How can you become a talent magnet but also hire the right people? What does it take to have a winning culture mindset while still remaining true to company values? This week’s curated news offers helpful insight. Enjoy!

1) Winning Companies Lead With A New Culture Mindset from Forbes

“With today’s interactive social media and the real-time Internet, both customers and employees see inside your company easily, so you can’t hide your real company culture. At the same time relationship perceptions have become the biggest drivers to customer loyalty and employee engagement. Thus in every business, big or small, culture can make or break your success...”

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Your Brand + Culture

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Your Brand + Culture

Company culture and employer brand are inextricably linked. A company culture is the foundation. It's what's accepted and what is not. An employer brand is the whole experience and the strengths you leverage to position your company among competitors. This week, we're sharing some pieces on both hot topics. Enjoy!

1) How Company Culture Drives Digital Transformation And Business Adaptability from Forbes

"I don’t think companies put enough stock in their cultures. Company culture is like an employee’s attitude; it will make or break you. Your company’s culture is a strong determining factor in its adaptability. We’ve established that the only constants in the future of business are change, agility, and the ability to pivot in response to market shifts—and that technology is essential to the success of a company. Your organizational attitude is marked by your business’s aptitude to change. Are you prepared for the future?"

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Lean In Meets What to Expect: An Interview with Allyson Downey

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Lean In Meets What to Expect: An Interview with Allyson Downey

Our founder, Susan LaMotte, recently interviewed Allyson Downey, founder of weeSpring and author of Here's the Plan. Here's the Plan offers an inspiring roadmap for working mothers steering their careers through the parenting years. Ironically, Susan and Allyson have much in common -  both are entrepreneurs, MBAs, writers and mothers. In this honest interview, Allyson shares with Susan why having a plan is important for women to thrive in the workplace. This may just be the motivation new mothers need to keep shaking up—and changing—the world!

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Talent and HR News Weekly Update: Company Culture

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Talent and HR News Weekly Update: Company Culture

In honor of yesterday's post about culture, this week's Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup focuses on company culture and some the latest news around this ever so popular topic. Enjoy!

1) 3 Ways to Create the Company Culture You Want from Entrepreneur

"Successful businesses have learned to look beyond skills to whether prospective employees mesh with their company culture from the start. As the founder and CEO of KeepSafe, a San Francisco startup with a cloud-based app for storing personal digital files, Zouhair Belkoura is well aware of how difficult it can be for a fledgling venture to attract and retain talent. Which is why he instituted a “test drive” policy for new hires, leaving the door open for them to simply walk away from their new position within a few days, no hard feelings. Most new hires decide to stick around, but not all. “We just lost two really solid candidates this way,” he says."

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Best of Culture

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Best of Culture

We talk a lot about culture at exaqueo and the benefits to the bottom line of a business. It's so foundational to every aspect of a company. This week's Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup features the "Best of Culture" articles from throughout the past year. Enjoy!

1) sing Your Culture to Attract Top Talent from Forbes

"Drab offices, deafening silence, draconian rules — these are the trademarks of stifling workplaces. And if your aspirational employees are working in this kind of environment, believe me, they won’t stay long. We all know that finding valuable employees is a hefty time investment, but leaders should spend just as much time building the culture that keeps them. Unfortunately, that’s seldom the case, and the repercussions can be far-reaching. To get some additional insight on this critical topic, I reached out to Fred Virgin, former SVP of HR at GE, and Carolyn D’Anna, Co-Chief Human Resources Officer at CohnReznick, for their opinions on how company culture can be your greatest selling point or biggest hindrance."

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Achieving the Best Company Culture

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Achieving the Best Company Culture

We are on a culture kick over here at exaqueo (have you seen our recent posts herehere, and here???). Could be the neat projects we're currently working on, or it could just be our general excitement around this content (we geek out with this stuff). We'll continue the trend in this week's Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup and share recent news around achieving the best company culture. Take a look below:

1) Using Your Culture to Attract Top Talent from Forbes

"Drab offices, deafening silence, draconian rules — these are the trademarks of stifling workplaces. And if your aspirational employees are working in this kind of environment, believe me, they won’t stay long. We all know that finding valuable employees is a hefty time investment, but leaders should spend just as much time building the culture that keeps them. Unfortunately, that’s seldom the case, and the repercussions can be far-reaching. To get some additional insight on this critical topic, I reached out to Fred Virgin, former SVP of HR at GE, and Carolyn D’Anna, Co-Chief Human Resources Officer at CohnReznick, for their opinions on how company culture can be your greatest selling point or biggest hindrance."

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How Do You Size Up When Answering Candidate Questions about Culture?

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How Do You Size Up When Answering Candidate Questions about Culture?

When it comes to interviewing, there are so many resources out there to help individual candidates prepare. These resources cover almost everything you can think of – how to dress, how firm to shake hands, how you should use body language…and most importantly, how to answer interview questions. 

There is a ton of information out there on that last bit. And, as we all know in recruiting, the job search is a 2-way street. When a candidate walks into an interview, they aren’t there just to answer questions, they are there to ask them too. The candidate has just as much right to interview a company as the company has interviewing the candidate to determine the right fit.

That said, are you (as the company) prepared for the questions a candidate might ask about your culture? Most of you may think, “sure, I can describe the culture of my company.” But if a candidate were to ask each interviewer the same question about culture, would he hear the same answer? And would the answer include not only the good, but the bad and the ugly too? And also the parts of your company that make you really unique (aside from just “collaborative,” “laid back,” “formal”)?

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Creating the Best Company Culture

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Creating the Best Company Culture

Company culture is the foundation of a company. Every company has a culture even without trying. At its core, it's acceptable behavior in a given environment. What about being intentional about your culture though? Since it is so foundational, thinking about the type of culture you want to create is crucial. Here are some thoughts on creating the best company culture. 

1) Company Culture, The Engine that Fuels the Company from Your Own Brand

"A culture can generally be described as the practices and values that are shared by people within a certain group.  A company culture, then, is the shared practices and values of the employees within a certain company.  The culture within a company is very important because it can really help a company thrive, or break it down.  Companies that have good cultures that are lined up with their overall business goals will generally out perform competition.  In order to make the most of your own company’s culture, you need to figure out what culture you currently have, what you would like to have, and how you can make changes to improve it."

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: How to Engage and Re-engage Your Employees

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: How to Engage and Re-engage Your Employees

We always talk about engagement here at exaqueo. Studies show a correlation between an engaged employee and service, sales, quality, safety, retention, profit and total shareholder returns. So it's not something to be ignored. Yet many companies do. Here is some of the latest thinking on how to engage and re-engage your employees. 

1) The Secret To Re-Engaging Employees: It's You from Forbes

"I recently spent time with two individuals in a unique line of work: Employee Engagement Experts, Ron Hirshfeld and Irit Oz. Together they help organizations achieve the seemingly impossible: turning around employee disengagement. Research claims “disengagement” (burnout, boredom, lateness, lackluster performance and workplace conflict) affects as many as 9 in 10 employees. Turning the equation around saves millions of dollars, to the tune of perhaps as much as $50 million for a company of 500 employees. (As I recently noted, Gallup pegs the cost of lost productivity due to absence, illness and stress-related work problems in excess of $350 billion per year nationwide.)"

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Culture + Talent: Q&A with Cathy Atkins from Metis Communications

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Culture + Talent: Q&A with Cathy Atkins from Metis Communications

We often sit down with leaders of growing businesses to get their take on culture and talent. I recently spoke with Cathy Atkins, co-founder of Metis Communications, a public relations and marketing firm. Cathy has more than 17 years of experience helping companies get in front of the right audiences at the right time. With a mission of “doing our best work ever,” Metis works closely with high-growth, emerging companies that need a true business partner to help them build influence and create measurable results. The “Metis way” is something the company’s team embodies daily, which Cathy hopes will have a long-lasting effect in redrawing the boundaries for PR and marketing.  Here’s what Cathy has to say about culture and talent at Metis.

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Office Space Design: Q&A with Anne Regan

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Office Space Design: Q&A with Anne Regan

The environment around you can greatly affect your mood and productivity. Think about days when you wake up to gray skies and endless rain. You have zero motivation to get out of bed. By contrast, when you wake up to the sun and 70 degrees, you have all the motivation in the world to get up and get moving. This translates to your work environment as well. You hear about new office spaces – like Facebook or Google – that are designed to motivate a desired behavior (be that creativity, innovation, collaboration, etc.) and reflect a company’s culture and brand. This is what Anne Regan does for a living – she designs office space as a Senior Manager at DBI Architects, which is a DC-based, full-service architecture and interior design firm.

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Using Vacation Policy to Promote Your Culture & Brand

Your company culture and your employer brand can be pulled through to any part of your organization that touches your employees, including a vacation policy. A company’s vacation policy, and how you promote it, can say a lot about your culture and brand.  The spectrum is broad – from no vacation for the first year of employment to unlimited vacation. Some industries – such as the financial industry – require two weeks (to be taken all at once) for legal reasons. Some companies opt to make their vacation policies unique to their company. Here are a few examples of different vacation policies that connect with the culture: Netflix: Netflix’s culture of “freedom and responsibility” is pulled through to so many different parts of the employment experience. Its vacation policy is no different, allowing unlimited vacation as long as employees get their work done.

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What Company Cultures Can Learn From Freemasons

Harry Houdini. Henry Ford. John Wayne. Winston Churchill. My grandpa. What's the common bond? They were all Freemasons. From fraternities and Freemasons to the Girl Scouts or Rotary, membership really does have its privileges: belonging. We join groups, teams, clubs and even companies to feel a part of something. A community or camaraderie. That's what culture really is: specific rules and attributes that define who you are and how things work. The rules of the road, the community norms. The way we exist. It's what makes strong cultures strong.

The Freemasons began as a guild in the 1700s for stonemasons and then evolved to a social organization full of ritual and rites of belonging. Historically, the rituals drove conspiracies which in turn drove attention and ultimately membership. At its height in 1939, the Freemasons had 4 million members. 

Today, still boasting a membership of over one million members, the Freemasons continue to welcome new recruits into their culture. They don't actively solicit new members--you'll need a referral--and you'll have to check off a few boxes:  men only, above 18, good character and belief in a supreme being (it doesn't matter which one but no atheists allowed).  And that's about all I know for sure because the rest is a secret.

There's a reason ritual, secrecy and tradition matter here. It's called culture. And if your organization wants a strong one, you're better off to learn from an organization that's been in existence for 800 years over hot brands with track records of less than a few decades. Here are six ways you can strengthen your culture Freemason-style:

1) Get people interested in your culture and keep them interested.

While membership in the Freemasons has ebbed and flowed over the years, they've found a way to stay relevant. For modern men, the Dan Brown books did the trick. For modern organizations, they have to stay vocal and relevant to drive interest. That means regular content, and insight where possible into what makes you special and unique.

2) Be clear about what it takes.

While most companies wax poetic about the incredible career opportunities or company culture, they avoid being upfront about how they recruit and who they recruit. Freemasons are clear on qualifications, how to recruit, and who to talk to about membership. Direct connection with a member gives you an immediate, personal, offline culture connection.

3) Show a commitment to your community.

When you create a culture you have to demonstrate no matter how elite or special it is, you care about the larger world that allows your culture to exist. You can't shut yourself off. Freemasons donate an average of $2 million to charity. Every day.

4) Make it special.

Freemasons have secrets.They have closed meetings. Not anyone can become a member. And when you do, you have to keep what's secret, secret.  There's something special that provides a certain allure. And when you're in, it's that sense of belonging.  Same thing goes for organizations with strong cultures. They care about how they welcome you and give you benefits only members have. That gold mason's ring that belonged to my grandpa? My dad had it melted down since he couldn't wear it.

5) Make it accessible.

Great cultures aren't elitist. Freemasons come in all colors and creeds. And they ban conversations on divisive topics like religion and politics. It's not about being better than someone or something else. It's about being a part of something bigger. Accessible, but you have to really want it and make the effort. Organizations with great cultures don't give job offers after one paltry interview. Both sides need to truly flesh out fit.

6) Be consistent.

Every company has a vague list of values on the wall. How many can say they have practiced those same values and have rites of tradition lasting 800+ years? You may not want to develop extensive ritualistic practices but you can develop work rules to show how your culture manifests itself in the business.  Align traditions for work and play -- and don't abandon them. Make cultural norms crystal clear and long-lasting.

Like any culture, the Freemasons have rabid fans and detractors.  And for most modern-day companies, look no further than Glassdoor to find the same.  This isn't an endorsement or a criticism--we can learn similar lessons from many long-lasting religious groups, political parties and local clubs.  It's about understanding what drives long-lasting culture, that sustains and aligns.

Find what defines your organization--what you live by, how you exist, and the constancy that will ensure your business is around in 2714. Then live it, practice it, and hire to it. Don't you want to leave job opportunities for your great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren?

Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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The Physical Candidate Experience and Your Employer Brand

Just a few of the candles I bought from Anthropologie While I do adore online shopping and its convenience, I don’t think I could give up an afternoon of walking into physical retail shops – feeling the clothes, smelling the perfumes, or testing out make-up – it’s part of the experience that stimulates the senses.

Part of what makes me enter into some stores and not others is the physical experience. Some stores have thought of everything, and I get a warm feeling when I go into them. That’s just what they want. You make judgments and form opinions on the experiences you have when you eat at restaurants, stay at hotels, or go to a football game. Candidates are making those same judgments and forming those same opinions when they enter your offices for a day of interviewing.

The candidate experience has many different components – I’m just going to focus this post on the physical candidate experience - the experience a candidate has when he/she visits an office for interviews. It’s the first face-to-face, physical contact they likely have with your employer brand, and it’s an important one.

Back to my shopping analogy – a great example of experiential shopping is Anthropologie. The very first thing you see are the window displays –unique and elaborate. You’re instantly intrigued. The moment you walk through the doors, you’re hit with the powerful smell of their scented candles, a sweet- but not too sweet- floral, feminine scent (I even bought one so my apartment could smell like the store). You feel like you’re in someone’s living room with the way the products are displayed. They don’t appear to be set out to be purchased, rather they are casually draped on tables like a cozy blanket thrown over the back of a couch.

This store isn’t for everyone. Some people hate the smell and would not dream of owning quirky measuring spoons or $200 satin shorts, but it’s appealing to a certain demographic--just like great recruiting should. The shopping experience reflects the brand. It’s selling a lifestyle, not just products.

It’s proven that brand experience increases customer loyalty. That same notion can be applied to the candidate experience. A candidate walks into your building, nervous, unsure what the day will bring. Every step he takes inside your building… every person he interacts with…every gesture that is given to him…he is making a judgment on whether he would fit in at your company. If that’s true, does it reflect your employer brand and the culture you live everyday?

I once heard of a college admissions office baking chocolate chip cookies right in the office to give to applicants who were interviewing. Genius idea! A nervous 17 -year old kid who is about to experience one of the most important interviews of his life walks into the admissions office…and smells chocolate chip cookies - the quintessential food and smell that oozes comfort. That’s just the emotion you want to evoke in that situation – you want them to feel at home.

Think about treating your candidates like customers and stimulating their senses when they enter into the doors of your company to reflect your brand.

Editor's note: for more information on how to strengthen your candidate experience, consider learning from applying for the Candidate Experience Awards.

Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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Cultivating a Culture of Feedback

  It’s that time of year where you reflect on what worked and what didn’t in the previous year, and you begin to think about what’s ahead of you in this next year. This is the perfect time for feedback, formally or informally.

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Or is it? Is there a reason we look at a new year as a clean slate? I do it too. I indulge from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day and then decide January 1 will be the day I start fresh.

There are plenty of articles out there advising on the delivery of feedback and its art form. These are extremely helpful because giving feedback, especially constructive, is a difficult conversation. What I’m imparting here is making feedback a mindset. If you want to cultivate a culture of feedback to engage employees and enhance productivity, there are 3 overarching elements to incorporating it, and it doesn’t mean just at performance review time.

Frequent

Feedback should not be reserved for the performance review. Managers should be offering it, and employees should be seeking it…often. High performing teams conduct a feedback routine called a Hot Wash after every major event to evaluate performance. Derived from the U.S. Army, "the term Hot Wash comes from the practice used by some soldiers of dousing their weapons in extremely hot water as a means of removing grit and residue after firing…One infantry soldier described it as ‘the quick and dirty cleaning that can save a lot of time later.’” (Source: US Department of Defense Education Activity).

Instead of waiting until the end of year, feedback should be provided frequently as a way to constantly adjust and save time in the long run. Startups use this concept with their products – obtaining constant feedback and tweaking as the market responds. Why not use this with your people?

Honest

Over the holidays, a friend shared that he was frustrated with his company’s review process. Throughout the year, he received very positive feedback and then at the end of the year - the time where it counts the most for bonus distribution – he received some negative feedback that impacted his bonus. He was actively seeking it out, and willing to work on his shortcomings, but he had no awareness. His managers were not doing him any favors by sugarcoating their feedback throughout the year.

Understood

Oftentimes feedback can be misconstrued. It’s not fun to be told you aren’t doing something well. You feel judged, scolded, and wrong. But if someone knew where the feedback was coming from, it may change how she receives it. I worked at a company where feedback was ingrained in the culture. During my interview, an employee explained that “feedback is love.” How refreshing! I knew that when someone offered me feedback, it was because they cared about me and wanted me to improve. And when I was on the delivery end of constructive feedback, the person receiving it would understand that I was genuinely looking out for her. You wouldn’t hesitate to tell your friend that she has ketchup on her chin so that she doesn’t embarrass herself, so why wouldn’t you tell a colleague that she takes on too much to please everyone. It’s not passing judgment, it’s making someone aware of areas that can vastly improve her life. Working in a company that had this openness was freeing. I never felt judged or wrong. I felt cared for and free to take risks.

Regardless of the type of culture you have, formal or informal, feedback is something that everyone deserves, and it should be frequent, honest, and understood.

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Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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Startup Company Culture: What is It?

Startup Company Culture: What is It?Slides. Ping pong. Work from home. No offices. Free beer.  This is how we often describe startup company cultures. Descriptive nouns often hiding what they really are -- benefits or perks; cool stuff we get. THIS does not a company culture make. Founders are always asking me how to create culture. And entrepreneurs are always writing about it. But no one's actually ever defined it. What is startup company culture? Want a culture that sustains? Want to built a culture that impacts your business? Don't start with perks.

Start with a Few History Lessons Instead

Culture has existed as long as America itself and our nation building efforts. We weren’t one nation—we were, in fact, eleven regional nations from east to west competing for land, allegiance and superiority. We know how the story went: resulting in our Declaration for Independence. But what’s hidden in that story are the cultures—how they form and why they sustain.

Once-upon-a-time startups Zappos, Hubspot and Netflix have made company culture popular. They’ve created manifestos, preached core values and shown that culture actually impacts business.  But cultures don’t just happen.  The same regional nations that eventually became the United States we know today had specific cultural attributes that defined who they were and why they lasted.

If You Want Your Startup to Last, You Need Some Key Attributes of Company Culture Too

1) Clarity

Strong cultures have clear values that are easily defined.  And those definitions are both consistent and known by everyone who is a part of the culture.  The modern day Tea Party is a perfect example of this—whether you agree with them or not they are exceptionally clear about what they stand for and owe the rise in their movement to this.

2) Rules

It’s one thing to have values and define what you stand for. But strong cultures also have rules and hold members of the tribe accountable to those rules. The El Norte culture occupying much of the Southwest in the 1600s and beyond followed a Spanish tradition of crucifying one of their own each year for Lent. As horrific as it sounds, it was a part of the Spanish culture they were trying to maintain in the Americas and they followed it religiously.

3) Potential

Culture requires vision. Today’s American Indian tribes are united in their culture and preserving tradition. But that’s not enough to keep them sustained. For cultures to survive there has to be potential, a continued vision for growth and prosperity -- which is why casinos and other business ventures are so important and can make or break a tribe.

4) Respect

Leaders have to live and model the culture. When John Smith first arrived in Jamestown, he had the colonists work in the field for six hours each day. They hated this and it led to the demise of the culture. They didn’t respect their leader and turned on him and each other when things got bad.

5) Belonging

Without a sense of pride in membership, culture means nothing.  Just consider the Fourth of July. The fireworks, the flags, the feeling of being a part of something and claiming membership to something not everyone can—that’s culture.

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exaqueo is a human resources consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.

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