Company culture: “We’re too big to agree”

We recently looked at some of the challenges facing big companies looking to create a solid company culture. Here, we’re going to take a more detailed look at one of those problems.

How can a company create a solid culture when they are just too big to agree?

Small startups are lucky. Due to their size, and the simplicity of their structure, employees have no problem knowing what the company values are, and a strong culture can naturally grow from that. But when you have offices all over the world, a complicated structure and are continuing to grow, creating a consistent culture can seem like a colossal nightmare.

But, there are ways that big companies can create a solid culture, even if you seem too big to agree.

Hire people that already share your vision

Your company values should always take centre-stage, especially when it comes to hiring. Ask questions in every job interview that will reveal whether your prospective new hire is a cultural fit. Bringing in a team member who already shares your vision means they will always be working with the right goals in mind.

A great example of this is Zappos, who always have a “cultural fit interview” and offer new employees $2000 to quit after the first week of training if they feel the job isn’t right for them.

Check the CV for skills and experience, use the interview to analyse a cultural fit.

Look after every individual employee

Don’t just encourage your employees to work hard, hit their targets and do well for the company, encourage them to look after themselves. By looking after the personal well-being of every employee as an individual, they will work better as part of a larger team, as they will care more about your company.

Company perks are more than just incentives, they are tools to look after an employee’s personal well-being. From free healthy food to on-site fitness centres, look after your employees (and they’ll look after you). This attitude of treating every employee equally can do wonders in forming a strong culture across your whole team.

For a simple way to boost employee well-being, take a page out of the Chevron playbook, and make your employees take a break every 45 minutes to make sure they don’t burn out.

Give everyone a voice

To make sure that your everyone in your company is on the same page, regardless of the size of the book, create a culture where every employee can have their voice heard.

The people at the bottom of the hierarchy should feel that their opinion is valued by those at the top, not just the other way round. Use collaboration tools to make sure that not only every employee feels like their opinion matters, but that you can genuinely listen and act on what they say.  

We’ll end this point with Richard Branson’s thoughts on the matter. “No company should ignore their staff’s feedback and suggestions, and no staff member should silence their ideas or innovations. No matter how big, small, outrageous or conventional an idea may be, there’s always an opportunity to turn it into a reality.”  

Evaluate and grow

This leads us nicely to our final point. From the smallest startup, to the biggest company, culture always evolves. So embrace change in your culture, if your employees deem it worthy of change.

Google’s culture is one of the best around, and it’s because they actively allow it to adapt. They are not set in their ways. There is no “set and protect” mentality. If something isn’t working, or if something requires change, they change it. To help their employees, they listen to them and change with them.

If you’ve worked to create a culture where every employee is able to be vocal, you need to actively listen to what they have to say and act upon it. This means generating regular feedback from every employee. Use polls or surveys to get the thoughts of your (newly) vocal team, analyse what they say and act upon the main points that stand out.

Your employees probably know your company better than anyone, so always listen to what they have to say.

There’s no such thing as “too big to agree”. Consider every employee as a vocal individual, embrace the changes your company evolves towards and grow your culture with your employees. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

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