How to build a thriving culture
Updated: Feb 16
It’s all about people. Over the past seven years I have learnt a lot about the importance of culture in the workplace and in my experiences, the biggest factor to establishing a thriving culture is people. Unless you have the right people, with the right attitude and the right values you are going to struggle.
So, I would like to share with you three important steps to make sure you have the right people to ensure sure you grow the culture you want.
Step 1: It’s all about the attitude
I recommend a very simple exercise. All you need is different coloured post-its and pens. Bring together your senior managers and start by noting the behavioural characteristics you absolutely do not want an employee of your business to have. Spend no longer than three minutes on this task. Use a different note pad for each characteristic and write as many as you can in the three minutes. Collate the post-its and group into themes – this will provide you with a list of characteristics you absolutely will not accept. Repeat the task again but this time focussing on the qualities an employee of your business must have. At the end of this task you will have agreed together with your Senior Managers what you expect from your employees.
Step 2: Recruitment time!
This new list will become central to any future recruitment. Armed with your new list here are a few techniques to make sure you pick candidates who have the right attitude and share your values.
Start to sow the “value seeds” early in the application process. Include your values and their importance clearly in all jobs advert and provide an example of what it’s like to work at your company.
I recommend to include questions that will help provide an insight into the person applying, above and beyond the necessary skills – ask them what they look for in an employer and what is important for them in a career. This will enable you to filter out unsuitable candidates at an earlier stage.
At the interview, competency based questions are a great way to find out how a candidate would handle certain situations. I would also suggest to spend 10 minutes during the interview process to get to know a bit about the candidate outside of the role, try find out what is important to them and what makes them tick.
Although you will have outlined the values in your job adverts, take time to explain your values face-to-face – it is much more powerful to convey the message in person.
If you are under pressure to recruit quickly, do not settle if you know someone isn’t right, although sometimes you will just know when you have the right person.
Step 3: Start on day 1
Your new recruits should start to experience your values and culture from day one. I think it is crucial to provide a thorough but well-paced induction plan to ensure new starters settle in well and feel welcomed that is why we involve the whole company in our induction process.
We start the induction with a tour of the office but spaced out over the course of the first few days – too many names and faces can be overwhelming! The idea is that we want to build a culture where everyone works together and understands where they fit in the bigger picture.
We have recently adopted a new approach for new starters to get to know all the teams. We used to do work-shadowing. However, we found it to be too formal, quite boring and not worthwhile for the new starter or the team giving up their precious time. The new meet the team sessions have been a huge success and include all kinds of activities like; a darts competition, tea and scones, fancy hot chocolates and playing pool. Even the Directors join in!
These small changes that we have made to our induction process have been ever so valuable and as a result we have a much more cohesive team.
Important! Make no allowances
Don’t skip this part. Once you have a clear picture of what an employee of your business should look like, make no allowances. It may take some time to work with your team and get to the point where you have all the right people with the right behavioural qualities but it will be worth it. You will need to be prepared to make some tough decisions but remain focussed on the culture you need for your business!
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