Strong Corporate Culture: It’s Not About Dogs in the Office (Unless You’re PETCO)

May 3, 2013 by

Strong Corporate Culture: It's Not About Dogs in the Office (Unless You're PETCO)

At OpenView, we talk about company culture all the time because — particularly for expansion-stage companies who are scaling their businesses — it’s critical.

More than anything else — money, titles, MakerBots (OK, maybe not MakerBots) — developing and maintaining a strong corporate culture will help you attract and keep the best possible employees at your company. But how do you do it? After all, culture doesn’t just “happen”.

The task of creating and nurturing corporate culture starts with management teams, and trickles down to everyone else in the company. As a CEO or senior manager, your character, your values, and your style will set the tone for the entire organization. It’s not what you say you are as a company, it’s what you actually d0 — and how you act on the values and priorities you want to promote.

Clearly defining, discussing, and publishing your company’s social and business values (given they are true to who you are and what your company is and wants to be) will help employees embrace them and refer to them when making decisions. In Jim Collins’s Built to Last, he writes that one of the things that successful companies he studied have in common is a “cult-like culture.”

A properly designed culture often ends up seemingly cult-like (see HubSpot), but it doesn’t start that way. It is built around core business values that are deeply rooted in the company, and when these values are genuine and you’ve assembled a team who is driven by them, it catches on like wildfire. It’s not about offering perks for the sake of perks (though those are certainly nice, and can make the office a more pleasant place to work!), it’s about being provocative enough to change what people do every day.

One Question to Ask to Jump-Start a Strong Corporate Culture

What is it that your company takes truly seriously? Great design? Your customers? Protecting data? If someone outside of your company were to walk into your offices, would they be able to immediately grasp how seriously you take whatever it is that you do? If not, what can you do to make that the case? That’s a good place to start.

Try coming up with concepts around your office design, policies, and benefits that will set you apart from other companies but remain closely tied to your core business values. Although we often hear otherwise, a positive company culture is not about making the office “fun”. In order to attract and retain the best employees, you need to establish the core values that truly drive the business, and build everything else around those principles.

For a terrific inside look into a strong company culture, check out The HubSpot Culture Code below:

What do you think are the keys to a strong corporate culture?