Following on from my recent article, I thought it timely to share some of my views on culture, and what I have tried to do in an attempt to cultivate a good one.
I have worked in some incredible businesses, with some very inspiring people. Some nailed internal culture, and others not so much. Interestingly, it was the ones who got it wrong who have inspired me the most. You see, I know what it is like to leave work feeling less than fulfilled, and when starting Itch, my culture goal was to create a place where people wanted to spend their days. I imagined a collaborative, high-performing team where everyone would thrive personally and professionally, kind of like business cupcakes and unicorns. Did I or have I succeeded? Some would say yes and others… well, not so much (you can’t please all of the people all of the time!)
In trying to create my business culture, I will often put myself in the shoes of those who work around me. I always remind myself that people choose to be in my business, I can’t make them stay but I can create an environment where they want to.
Firstly, I would like to preface that I am only as good as the people around me. I get to work alongside an amazing leadership team and a group of good humans who make up the Itches. A great culture hasn’t come easy to me, after kissing a few frogs, I have identified exactly who fits and who doesn’t. This is a good place to start; employ good people, don’t settle, don’t rush, and the right person will come along at the right time.
Before a contract of employment is offered, be honest when advertising and be candid at the interview. Manage new employee’s expectations, talk about your business warts and all (see what I did there? Frogs and warts, I laughed, I hope you did too).
Let’s start with the basics:
Job descriptions - These outline expectations and form a framework to monitor progress and performance. People want to know what their job involves, if you are in a highly rigid environment where you don’t want people going outside of their wheelhouse, say it. If you want people to approach their role with flexibility, outline what this looks like BEFORE they start.
Onboarding - My example would be what I do… it suits me, it’s casual, it’s on-brand. Day one is all about having to listen to me speak about the business. This involves a lot of storytelling (I am sure this doesn’t surprise you?) Including how I have fostered a collaborative environment, where all most all decisions are done in consultation with the specific teams. After all, we are only as great as the sum of us. We work hard, and this is rewarded by a strong social culture and make sure we celebrate the wins (loudly) and come together when times are tough.
So, I leave you with this thought;
“There is no use planting a prize-winning rose in the sand because it will die, this is no different to employing a superstar if your culture is broken”
Founder + Managing Director