The foosball table has become a 21st century symbol — indicative of how cool it must be to work somewhere, how much fun employees have and the “work hard, play hard” attitude. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a great recreational distraction, but a great corporate culture is not created with a foosball table in the lobby. It’s encompassed by a nurturing environment and consists of a management team that supports it and employees who believe in it.
To have a flourishing culture in a “churn and burn industry,” such as technology consulting, the environment and the people in it will be the only things needed — no token reward necessary.
Get everyone aligned with the company vision
Leaders must be incredibly eager to do right by the company vision, to uphold its statements and to maintain its integrity. In some instances, this may result in a short-term profit loss (or investment as I prefer to see it).
Is your management team willing to accept all of the challenges for the long-term benefits to both the company and client? Your defined vision should focus on the bottom line of providing value, both for your employees and your clients.
Forget transparency — get totally naked
Transparency, or allowing the client visibility into concerns, has become quite popular. Go a step further by not only providing insight to strategy but calling out when a mistake has been made as well. Own everything — successes and defeats.
A culture that highlights both fruition and failure will earn the respect and admiration of the industry and the client, as well as garner the full positive, productive and truthful engagement of employees.
Lead by example
Along that same line, the culture of an organization will be greatly influenced by what the leaders do.
If the management team employs practices that are less than professional, staff members will embrace these shady tactics as well.
Don’t fake it — value your people
Team members will feel appreciated if management’s motives are altruistic, if the company’s initiatives are known and understood, if they’re given personal time with leaders and opportunities for real growth and development are presented.
If the team can see how much they and clients are truly valued, they, too, will believe in the organization and its culture.
Conversely, if, for example, company meetings are primarily about red and black, team members will begin to feel like cogs in the machine with the only purpose of billing hours and generating revenue.
Don’t hire a body for a task
Leaders shouldn’t hire simply to put a body on a project or task, but they should hire because that candidate embodies what the company professes and ultimately delivers.
Being a perfect fit for the culture far outweighs a skill set. People can be trained, mentored and instructed on technologies and techniques, but holding the same values and beliefs we know to be essential to our success is either inherent or not.
As Jim Collins explains in his book, “Good to Great”: “If I were running a company today, I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could. I’d put off everything else to fill my bus. Because things are going to come back. My flywheel is going to start to turn. And the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.”
Be passionate about what you want to achieve and the people helping the company to do so. Hire people who are aligned with the culture you’ve developed and the vision you stand by. Care for them genuinely, both professionally and personally.
With all of this, you may be initially surprised with the level of ingenuity and creativity your team will give in return. Incorporate that with constant transparency and open, honest communication, and productivity will reach unprecedented levels.
And save the foosball table for the chicken wings and drinks after work.
Michael Moores is the director of Briteskies LLC, a full-service solution company for website design, development, integration and e-commerce projects. Briteskies assists its customers in bringing their brands, products and services to the online marketplace.