During the relentless fight to execute on the product and financing fronts of a start up, an entrepreneur must not be blind to a very critical factor: Culture
Bad culture is sure tall tell tale of what leads to startup failure
“Culture” is basically the norm within an organization that is accepted and usually passed from one generation to the next. It is a “habit” and translates into business results however it is very difficult to change once it has set in. As managers we must be vigilant to see that any bad behaviors don’t creep. If they do it is critical that we take action to understand what incentives we may have potentially created, if the employee is a bad fit for the role, or if inadequate leadership are drivers of primary concern.
How managers treat day-to-day activities resonates much louder than it may appear if looked at through the lens of culture impact. How we treat small or large accomplishments and/or poor performances in our organization all impact the culture. A large hazards exist if you don’t invest significant efforts in how employees regard themselves and their relationship to the company so my suggestion for building culture is to focus on three main areas proactively:
Messaging, Incentives, & Accountability
- Tell your organization the vision as it changes and provide transparency about needs & goals
- Employees who buy into a vision can be creative and find solutions to company problems.
- Explain why things change to avoid rumors and disconnect from leadership and teams
- Verify that the behaviors rewarded in an organization are correct with the stage and goals
- What is celebrated? What is advancement or compensation based on? Does it need to change?
- In an organizationyour incentives let people know what is valued so be sure it aligns to your desired values.
- Give employees ownership and increased responsibilities with freedom but deliverable and commitments should be expected
- If deadlines are missed consequences must be delivered and understood in the organization
- Ensuring an organization of accountability allows for limited middle management needs
In closing it is critical to say that how we work together is just as important as our work product. Founders who have succeeded showed an ability to adjust the organization and messaging, as new information and or business needs became apparent. We should adjust the previous three levers as the organizations we create shift and new milestones need to be met.
A good mantra I use to try and remind myself of this is, “What’s the most expensive thing you could ever own? “ My response is, “a CLOSED mind because you could never know what it cost you, openness creates possibilities.”