The fantastic four

Start with an open culture

Before even thinking about developing guiding principles to takeyour company to the next level, you need to have the right kind ofculture in place to succeed.

“If I had to change my title around from owner or CEO, I wouldpick manager of culture,” he says. “I think that’s the most importantfactor in business because it lays a foundation for everything elsethat you do.”

While each company can have a different culture, Hillerdescribes his company’s as a collaborative culture where peoplecan express their opinions. One way he established that type ofenvironment was by having, once or twice a month, Fun Fridays,which has each department rotating responsibilities for the day.They’ve done things like celebrated Chinese New Year as well ashired a masseuse.

“It’s just a little bit of time to sit down and meet each other,” hesays. “We have a real great lunchroom where a lot of the discussions go on and there’s a lot of sharing there.”

Hiller found that by having each department responsible for aFun Friday activity, it makes each department want to take pridein its idea and creates some competition between departments.

“They want to make theirs be the most fun for that time, and it’sworked out really well,” he says.

On top of being a reward for working hard, Hiller says the FunFridays also increase the company’s productivity.

“It’s kind of like, if you did a time motion study, how hard do youwork just before you go on vacation? You’re just cranking, tryingto get those e-mails out because you don’t want anything on yourdesk you can’t handle because you just want to go on vacation andjust enjoy yourself,” he says. “That’s the kind of momentum building toward a Fun Friday. You can’t operate at 130 percent of capacity all the time, but maybe you can operate that way ahead of thatFun Friday, and it’s really a pressure release valve on stress.”

When it comes to employees possibly taking advantage of a culture like Hiller’s, he says it’s always a possibility, but he wants togive employees the benefit of the doubt.

“I would rather live in the moment, than try to manage for theexception,” he says.

Overall, you need to look at your company’s culture with an unbiased eye before forging ahead with guiding principles.

“I think the first thing I would recommend anyone doing is makea serious assessment of their own culture, and I don’t know thatyou can go from a challenged culture to what I believe is a collaboration culture in one step,” he says. “It was easy for us becausewe were pretty close. So, my recommendation would be to reallydo a self-assessment of, ‘What culture do we have at the company.Is it optimistic? Is it pessimistic? Is it nurturing? Is it autocratic?’From there, that drives the other processes if you are trying to getto that kind of assistance.”