Company culture is a secret sauce. It’s what makes other businesses want to work with you, and makes people want to work for you. But if you’re thinking you can spend this weekend building a killer company culture, you’re sorely mistaken.
Building your company culture is a process. It requires a conscious and hard look at where your business is and where you want it to be.
For my company, Gerber LLC, it’s been a long intentional process to refine our culture. Getting here required a combination of innovation, evolution and investment in our team members.
In 2011, I knew it was time for a change. I decided to overhaul our look, location and even the way we operate — which meant a major culture change. We adjusted our scope of servicing from general financial planning to focus solely on holistic business services for first-generation entrepreneurs, and our brand to reflect our creative new approach.
From there we decided what it was we really wanted and who we wanted to work with, and took intentional steps to get there. The complete upheaval included honing in on our audience, refining our services and processes to cater to those individuals, and even assembling the right team of people (both culturally and skillsets) to get us there.
Take a look in the mirror, even if it’s ugly
As an entrepreneur or company leader, it’s on you to make a cultural change happen and to make sure it adapts as your company continues to grow. The goal is to find the right combination of personalities and beliefs that ultimately align with your business values and goals. Remember these are the characteristics that create culture and they can change as your business develops.
When you’ve hit the culture pain point, focus only on what will really move your culture forward. Ask yourself the important questions:
- What aspects of your culture are most important to you as the business owner? Respect, innovation, fun, flexibility, ethics?
- What aspects of your culture are most important to your employees?
- Where can you change practices to include these cultural aspects?
- What do you need to do in the next 90 days, the next year, to move the company closer to your culture goals?
- Are you routinely evaluating the aspects that are important to the company culture?
Ask yourself the hard questions and be ready to get uncomfortable. This isn’t always fun, and you may realize you’re not where you want to be but it’s also an opportunity to think about where you want to go.
A lot can influence company culture — from your ego to your client-base, or even a single individual within your team — the fact is, without a conscious approach to take control of your company culture, the lack of direction can leave you stagnant.
Randy Gerber is the founder and principal of Gerber LLC, a professional services firm that works with first-generation entrepreneurs. Gerber works with clients to plan for business growth and understand what they want out of life, and then puts holistic wealth management plans in place designed to help make it happen.