What do I look for in a company culture?
We are quite fortunate in the Tech industry where company culture is almost used as a benefit to attract talents, so companies are usually making sure to have a good one. However, that also makes us more exigent and I don’t think this is a bad thing. To be fair I constantly have that battle in my head asking myself:
Do I want more because I am a spoiled entitled millennial or do I truly believe that we should all get more?
I think a bit of both. I truly believe that work should raise our quality of life not just because of money, and I think that is because I am a millennial.
Anyway, these are only my thoughts but I am writing a lot about work-life balance these days. I truly think that you can’t achieve that balance if the company culture you are in does not fit you. Here is what I am looking for in a company culture…
I personally need to be motivated and steered toward a common goal. A vision is essential to good leadership, but in order for it to be infused in your company culture and making sure that your people strive towards it, you need to share it. Share it regularly, everywhere all the time so it gets ingrained in the fibres of your company and staff. On top of that have a clear recurrent meeting to update everyone on the direction, where you are and where you are going. Trust them with your vision. They are the ones that will make it happen.
Clarity & Responsibilities
Clarity and responsibilities give us structure. It is important that roles within the company are well defined to avoid friction and frustration. Especially with young companies where everything is in perpetual movement if you don’t reestablish the structure you can lose your employees. Chaos creates a lot of frustration and it might happen without the management realising. Always take the temperature to check that responsibilities and roles are clear for everyone.
Do not babysit or micro-manage me. You employed me for a reason, I assume that you believed in my capacity to do the work when you gave me the job. Carry on and loosen the leash. I truly believe that micro-management is the #1 killer of productivity. We all work differently and have different ways to process information. As long as I deliver at the end of the day and that I act within the company guidelines and standards, let me do the job my way.
Trust & Flexibility
This is linked to Autonomy. Trust me to do the job and meet your expectations. You also need to give me the flexibility to work at the best of my potential. That means that some employees might need 4 days week. Some might need a quiet office and other a big buzz. You are not only employing technician you are employing humans.
I find open discussion really hard to achieve (especially in Britain). I personally think that 90% of the problems can be solved one way or another with constructive discussion. Maybe we should apply design feedback techniques to discussions within the company. If open discussions are part of the company culture it will be easier for employees to apply it within a project, between themselves and with management.
In our profession, we have the choice to go freelance or working in an organisation. Usually, if you choose to work in an organisation it is either for financial security or the need to belong somewhere and work in teams. Personally, I need to to be part of a group, a team and create a community. This community will consolidate your culture over time and might reduce your turnover because people don’t want to leave friends.
Compassion is an important factor. You are dealing with humans that have lives before and after work. Sometimes this life is impacting the productivity and focus of your employees. Showing compassion, making sure that they know they are supported will only resolve the situation quickly and make them even more loyal.
We all need to blow out some steam. A little bit of organised fun does a great deal of good. You don’t have to spend a fortune but even a few nights at the pub will increase the bond that your employees share and cement the culture. Companies can even make it productive by teaching the staff new fun skills.
A back Bone
Personal Growth & Mentoring
I personally think that staff is the resource #1 of any company but this is especially true when you sell a service. In order to better your service you need to better your resources. If we follow this logic it means giving the opportunity to your employees to grow and mentor them.
Community of Practice
Mentoring is not the only way your employees can better themselves. They also need to be in contact to all that is new in their fields. the company should facilitate access to a community of practice. That comes to hosting events, sending your staff to conferences but also making sure that they contribute to that community.
Finally, your staff grows when you take them out of their box and comfort zone. Open minds are beneficial for everyone and core to a strong base and growth. That is why I believe cross-functional teams allows the team to always ask questions and look at problems from different perspectives which creates a better outcome
I am lucky enough that 100 Shapes is one of these companies that caught up with the idea that a happy employee is a productive employee. I think it is important to constantly listen to your team and work together towards a common goal. That goal is succeeding by creating a tight team that just love what they do. Our focus at 100 Shapes is User Experience and Employee experience, so after making life at work better for our clients we don't forget to look inward.