Unique to every company is the culture that is nourished through constant interaction between coworkers, employees, and management. Killer Infographics’s co-founders, Amy and Nick, recognized early on that they wanted to build a company with a unique working environment — one that not only encouraged creative people to bolster their individual skill sets, but inspired productive collaboration across all company verticals.
But maintaining a healthy office culture requires constant attention and smart strategizing. We haven’t worked out all the kinks yet, but we think we’ve learned a lot about company culture in the process, so we’d like to offer a few tips for bettering the culture at your own company — whatever business you’re in.
Since Amy and Nick established their goals for company culture, they’ve focused on developing a strong company personality and understanding what is most important for the employees and business as a whole. They knew that continuously working to build a creative environment is essential for holding on to great talent and maintaining a killer culture.
“We create an environment that empowers employees to build the culture,” Nick explains. “As co-founders, we really just give a framework and set the general direction on culture, but I always feel like it is the team as a whole that creates the overall vibe where people work hard and play hard.”
Multiple variables — many of them unique to your company — dictate the direction you’ll take when building a fun and productive work environment. The following are just a few tips to help point you in the right direction.
Start on day one
Shaping the way a manager wants employees to interact with the business should begin immediately. There’s a long learning curve before you can determine what works best with your employees, so start by writing down what is most important and then inform everyone of the goals you’re envisioning. And don’t forget to ask for feedback!
As Jim Dougherty puts it on the Harvard Business Review blog, “I think leaders should think of their culture as the first and most important business model that they create.” The success of a company is a result of the people working there. Make sure that you continually work to have a culture that attracts top talent and produces results for the company.
Make culture-building a part of every day
Start bringing your envisioned culture to life every day in the office. It’s a sure way for management to demonstrate just how important it is to the company.
Everyone in the company needs to experience at least one part of the culture at some point in their daily schedule. Samuel Bacharach of Inc.com advises: “Day-in and day-out, leadership should reinforce, recognize, and reward behavior that’s consistent with your core cultural statement.” Take time to talk with employees to make sure that things are working, and that the new programs are effective.
Fortunately our team is still small enough that we can have a daily morning meeting to discuss everything that’s happening in the office. Every member of our team knows what each department is working on that day. We can quickly discuss problems, develop solutions, and know what our schedules are looking like for the day. It also offers the chance for us to pitch in and help fellow team members — a great way to build camaraderie and even learn new skills.
Create programs and events
The best way to get employees excited about the character of the company is to HAVE FUN! Take everyone out of the office to forget about work and interact in a relaxed setting. Think of something appropriate for the group and do it — dinner, drinks, baseball game, whatever!
Killer Infographics makes it a point to have monthly company lunches and quarterly parties to help the team let loose. It’s easy to get so wound up from the stress of the daily grind that we forget to get to know each other. Time outside the office is a great solution.
There is no cookie-cutter way to develop a culture that will resonate with the entire company. Take the time evaluate what’s most important and work toward one ultimate goal. Stick to what works and, most importantly, always listen to the feedback employees and managers are providing. Along the way, email us with some of your own company culture stories! We’d love to hear what solutions you’ve come up with.