1. You haven’t identified the values that drive your culture
We know, you’re building a start-up and corporate values sound, well, corporate. Many companies incorporate their values into strategic planning: Salesforce has V2MOM, Symantec has Victory Plan, and Dov Seidman wrote recently in Time Magazine about National Instruments’ corporate values: respect, integrity and dedication. (http://business.time.com/2013/05/01/why-companies-should-put-values-first-and-how-they-can-do-it-without-sacrificing-growth/)
At Inqune, we’ve designed an interview, shadowing and survey methodology to help start-ups and mid-sized companies pin down the core values of their businesses and understand how those values are enacted in their corporate culture. You can’t curate and cultivate your culture until you know what you stand for.
2. Values are being enacted… but maybe not the ones you want
Even if they are not stated, values are still being communicated. The layout of your offices, the way meetings are run, and who has control over resources all define and convey your culture. Leadership, along with others with longer tenure and seniority, have already established a culture that is passing from group to group, whether you like it or not. Even you “like things the way they are,” undefined values are hard to protect or use in decision making. If you choose to lead, you can define the culture that you want.
3. You aren’t measuring the impact of your culture
What metrics are you tracking? Revenue? Pipeline? Opportunity to close? Customer satisfaction? Renewal and churn rates? Attrition? Business researchers have written about the impact of employee attitudes on job satisfaction and, ultimately, job performance. One of the gaps they have identified is how satisfaction and performance are measured: the metrics used often fail to actually correlate to satisfaction or performance. Oops! (Saari, L. M. & Judge, T. A., 2004).
Go beyond employee surveys; encourage employees who uphold corporate values by tracking and rewarding actions taken with customers and colleagues that reinforce the best aspects of your culture.
4. You aren’t hiring for cultural fit
If you are able to hire employees who are a good fit with your corporate culture, you can increase employee retention – increasing the ROI of each of your hires. Employees who are a good cultural fit are 2x more likely to stay with a company compared to those who are not, according to RoundPegg, a SaaS culture management platform. (http://roundpegg.com/culture-research/retain-top-performers)
5. You aren’t marketing your culture
What are your company’s competitive differentiators? We all enjoy working with those we like and trust. If you have great teams who prioritize customer success, you should be yelling that from the rooftops. If you have a service-oriented mission that can be seen from your CEO’s time in the soup kitchen to your support team’s dedication to going the extra mile, that should be front-and-center on your webpage. It is easier to relate to people who have a clear and confident sense of self. The same is true of companies. Know who you are, and don’t be shy about telling the world.
Fujitsu Consulting is just one example of a company trumpeting their people as a leading differentiator: http://www.fujitsu.com/global/campaigns/the-people-difference/