When it comes to culture, the giants like Netflix and Google are king. Many articles have been written about their ability to build string company cultures and attract the best employee talent. You may look around at your small business with significantly less employees (and let’s face it, a much smaller budget) and think, how can I apply this to my business? A recent article from Entrepreneur offers six things that you need to know about how Netflix built its culture, and we will add some insights for how you can apply what they have done in your own business regardless of size.
- Avoid “shiny object syndrome”– It can be easy to jump on the bandwagon of the next new thing that your competitor or other businesses may be doing. This often leads to wasted time and money. Instead consider what steps you can take to build the culture you want for your current and future employees. Think about your industry, your leadership style and the characteristics of your current employees. Find the unique thing you can do to stand out and be different.
- Everyone is all in– To build a successful company culture, everyone has to be on board. Finding ways to connect personally to all employees is necessary. Make sure any new employees you add to the team fit the culture as well. Ask interview questions that help you determine how a potential employee will fit in (get ideas in our Recruiting Toolkit). Also understand that you can’t control the culture. It will change and evolve as the company and employees change. Encourage employees to find ways to improve the culture rather than trying to preserve it. Don’t do things just because that’s always the way you have done it. Do it because it is the best way.
- Think team instead of family– This piece is especially important in a small business. It can be easy to start thinking of employees like family (you may even have some employees who are actually family). The word family implies unconditional support and lifetime employment. These things to not contribute to a successful company culture. Instead think of your employees as a team, where everyone is putting in hard work to reach a common goal.
- Trust employees to manage their time– Netflix doesn’t have a set 9am-5pm schedule, nor do they have a set number of vacation days. They encourage employees to work when it is best for them. This may not be realistic in your small business, but you can provide your employees with some flexibility without jeopardizing your business. Consider what you can do that matches your company culture. Perhaps you can allow some employees to work four-day work weeks. Or maybe some could come in earlier while others could stay later, depending on their preference. Think about ways you can provide some freedom to employees and demonstrate that you trust them.
- Honesty is the best policy- If honesty isn’t one of your core values, it probably should be. Reward employees for being honest, especially in difficult situations. Encourage open communication and feedback from all levels to all levels.
- Schedule time for one on ones- This time isn’t for managers to control the way employees are doing their job. It is a time for employees to share what they have been working on, ask for advice on any challenging situations and for leadership to share what else is going on in the rest of the organization. Schedule these meetings on a regular basis and do you best to not move or change them. This shows your employees that their time is valuable to you.
Realizing your dream of running a successful business can be challenging and overwhelming, but building a company culture you can be proud of doesn’t have to be. These simple things taken from an expert in company culture can easily be applied to your business immediately. Try it out and let us know how it goes at firstname.lastname@example.org