Today owners need to consider hiring the right person for the job and for the organization. It is not enough to find someone with the SKA’s …. the skills, knowledge, and abilities, you seek. You also want to find a person that will fit into your organizational culture. An organizational culture is not drafted and defined by the leader or the team, like your vision, mission or value statements. It is not the way you want things to be; it is “the way we do things around here.”
Consider assessing the current state of your organizational culture. A SWOT analysis could help you identify your internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. The internal assessment will provide feedback from those who know you best, the external assessment will help you brand your business to customers, as well as, future candidates.
If you want to learn how employees view the culture, you have to ask them. Ask questions about the aspects of the business you are able to change and not those you can’t. For instance, startups may not be able to change compensation and benefits while owners are pouring money back into the business so don’t survey employees on these factors. Don’t ever ask a question you aren’t ready to respond to. But compensation and benefits are not the only factors important to employees. In a 2013 survey by the Society of Human Resources, the top five elements contributing to job satisfaction included, in order of importance: compensation, job security, opportunities to use skills & abilities, relationship with immediate supervisor, benefits & the organization’s financial stability (tied) and the work itself. Once you have listened to your employees, you can enhance the culture by reinforcing what you are doing right or begin some strategic planning to rectify things you are doing wrong.
If you find the employee’s perception of “how we do things around here” is less than favorable then plan for change. Vision, mission and value statements are ineffective when they are aspirations and not woven into the fabric of the culture. But consider the team building opportunity, and the buy-in, if you brought the group together to articulate meaningful, realistic statements that differentiate you and could be communicated to future team members to yield a more positive culture. This helps leadership find its voice, establishes a collaborative approach and aligns everyone toward common goals.
Make sure policies and procedures are defined and are aligned with employment laws. Employees perception will be grounded in the basics – being paid fairly, treated with respect and a safe working environment. Employees are savvy – make sure your leadership team is well trained in the basics.
Communicate successes! Celebrate the achievements of individuals and teams. The only cost is your time and effort. In a startup, achievements are more visible and more important. If you acknowledge the contributions of others, then your culture is one of shared successes. If you don’t, then it is a culture of independent contributors, isolated and unappreciated.
Hold all accountable. You deserve the best talent the market can offer so if someone is not the correct fit, for the position or the organization, let them know. Advise them of the issue, give them an opportunity to improve or develop, and if they do not, then get a team player who can. Don’t settle for mediocrity.
Your culture is dependent on you, the leader. It is “how YOU do things around here.” Be a role model, inspire and motivate others, delegate and develop a capable team and you will be a “transformational” leader. Work on your foundation, your organizational culture, to maximize your organization’s success. It will help you realize the best return on your greatest asset – your people.