7 Steps to Creating an Awesome Corporate Culture

Erica Fener

The first thing that matters—or that should matter—for a company is building a stellar product or service that will last. Once you have a product or service established, you can grow your company and focus on building a culture. A culture can exert a powerful effect on people by leading them to act in a particular way when the path may not be clear. Take the time to figure out the culture of your company including the social aspects, the workplace and how to keep people motivated. The following 7 steps to creating a corporate culture ensure you’ll have happy, productive employees who are invested in the company.

1. Freedom to share ideas and feedback. Communication is key for the success of every business. Instead of guessing how employees feel, ask them directly. Most people are not going to share ideas unless they are asked explicitly in an environment where they feel comfortable expressing their ideas. Company leadership and employees alike must be able to criticize, share constructive feedback, and have a strong commitment to continuous improvement.

2. Transparent leadership and structure. Many people don't think about the role of leadership and structure in creating a corporate culture. However, leaders are the ones who primarily shape a company’s culture. For example, if a top company goal is better customer service, executives must make it a priority so their employees follow suit. Don't forget to display transparency in structure as well. For example, if a business takes pride in its products and strong engineering teams, but buries the teams in a hierarchy with an all-important marketing leader at the top, people will doubt the importance of the engineers.

3. Make teamwork a priority. Avoid the rock star mentality in which you put everything on a single individual who appears to be talented in all aspects of the business. Employees will resent this mentality, and you'll quickly learn that, in fact, one person cannot handle all work tasks on his or her own. Instead, focus on creating stellar teams of talented employees who work well together.

4. Regular opportunities for learning and growth. No one wants to work in a business that has stagnated. From training employees in-house in a new software program to sending a group of co-workers to an industry conference, let employees know that their education is important to the future of the company.

5. Make smart hiring decisions. Keep in mind that it can take many months to figure out the culture in a new company. Hire well, and hire using the right criteria. Don't be afraid to take on new hires for a three-month probation period to give both parties the opportunity to figure out if the relationship will work on a long-term basis. Instead of getting sucked into individual points on a rêsumê, set standards high and stick to them. Hire for attitude, not aptitude. When you hire smart employees, you can train them for the skills that you require for the company. Focus on culture right from the start. Will a potential employee fit in well with the current culture? How will he or she contribute to it in a positive way? You want employees who both work hard and play hard.

6. Look to the future. No matter which step you take to create a corporate culture for your business, it won’t make a bit of difference if people don't believe in the future of the company. Why should they stay motivated if there aren't any clear-cut goals or vision? When people do have hope for the future, they believe in the present. Put together realistic, concise goals and display them publicly.

7. Ensure true investment. There are a number of ways that you can keep employees invested in a company, including paying substantially more than competitive wages, making employees partial company owners and giving floor-level employees a degree of decision-making power.

Erica L. Fener, Ph.D., is Vice President, Business Development Strategy and Analysis atProgressus Therapy, a leader in connecting their candidates with school-based PT jobs and early intervention service jobs.