In my mind, the culture of your business is everything. If you have a strong culture, you have happy people. Happy people go on to joyfully serve your customers and everyone wins. Besides, we all know that we spend a bucketload of our time at work, so we may as well be enjoying it.
My first business was a recruitment company and I worked hard to create a brilliant culture there. I took the lessons I learned in that business and brought them across to Business Chicks when I started it, and amplified them even further. I hope these lessons help you build the culture you want in your company:
1. Hire for attitude
You can teach skills but you can’t change attitude. This is the most important thing to remember when hiring. A toxic attitude can have a huge effect on your whole team. It can be hard to pick people from just one interview, so put lots of effort and time into the recruitment process. Referrals are a great way to find people who will fit your culture, and good people generally hang out with good people so ask your good people if they have any friends or family they can recommend. This happened when I hired my assistant three years ago. I asked one of my team members ‘Don’t you have someone just like you in your orbit?’ and she said ‘Yep, I do – my best friend is looking for a job.’ If I hadn’t asked her, she probably wouldn’t have thought to tell me, as she didn’t know I was looking.
2. Set the scene
The little things count. Whenever a new staff member starts, write a personal welcome card to leave on their desk. We go a step further and give flowers/champagne/stationery etc. We also make sure we have their business cards ready on their desk and make sure their computers are all set up and ready to go. First impressions count. You should continue the way you start so keep reminding your team that they’re appreciated – whether that be with a box of chocolates or even something small like an email (or better still a public thank you in front of the whole team) with genuine heartfelt praise. Show them you notice.
3. Wellness matters
Let’s be honest …over-stressed, over-worked, caffeine-addicted, fast-food eating team members are probably not going to perform as well as those looking after themselves. Providing a healthy lunch for your team once a week in a communal space encourages people to switch off and talk to one another. Things like yoga and massages are becoming more popular too. When you treat your staff well, they’ll want to grow your business with you.
4. Stimulating surroundings
The physical space of your business has a huge impact on the motivation of your team. Invest in atmosphere – whether that be just livening up the space with awesome artwork, playing music, or making sure there’s a breakout area for your team to have time out. We even have a bed in our office! These sorts of things can be achieved on all budgets. Get the lighting right, invest in equipment and furniture that’s modern and that works and you’re on your way. A friend of mine has an office with no windows at all and often wonders why his team don’t stay long.
5. Top down
A fish rots from the head and culture filters down through organisations, so lead by example. If that means you need to roll your sleeves up and get amongst the day-to-day stuff sometimes, then do it. Don’t be precious and stay approachable. Sit with your staff for lunch, or ask how their weekend was (and genuinely care how they answer) and sometimes … it’s even ok to change the toilet paper roll (I do this frequently!) One of my favourite leaders Megan Quinn who was a co-founder in the internet retail sensation Net-A-Porter says ‘you’re never too senior to pick up a broom’ and I couldn’t agree more. You need to work on culture every day – you have a whole team depending on you to set the standard.
*Emma Isaacs is the ultimate girl boss, who is both the founder and global CEO of the formidable Business Chicks. For all things girl power, business, and culture visit www.businesschicks.com.au. It is a resource worth its weight in gold. This article was first published on businesschicks.com.au, and shared with permission from Emma and the Business Chicks team. (Thank you Emma and BC, We love you!)