Remember the movie “Office Space”? Who can forget this classic tribute to “cubicle hell” and corporate politics run amok. Dialogue from it has even seeped into pop culture with comical phrases like Lumberg’s familiar monotone demand, “If you could do that, that would be GREEEEAAAAT. Mmmmmkay?”
Or how about Milton, the bumbling and bewildered office drone forever in search of his missing paycheck and his infamous red Swingline stapler?
By the way, no, I haven’t seen it, so please don’t ask.
All kidding aside, dysfunctional company culture persists, and though the butt of a good joke, has very real consequences. Businesses that fail to fix a “turn and burn” culture will only breed more of the same, with good employees taking their sought-after skills and talent to greener pastures.
The first step to avoiding such scenarios is to try and prevent them in the first place.
By realizing first and foremost that your people are your greatest organizational asset.
As your business takes flight, you quickly realize you simply can’t do it all yourself. In order to reach your enterprise’s full potential, you need a team of talented, committed, and entrepreneurially-minded, bold thinkers.
As old business norms like wearing ties and being chained to an office die off, new standards take their place: flexible working times, virtual teams, leveraged technology, and strategic outsourcing. Despite the need to be driven, lean, and stream-lined, businesses must have their key players in place to navigate a successful course, both short and long term.
Fast track companies know that in today’s warp-speed world, top talent is attracted to prime opportunities by a myriad of factors, compensation being only one. Today’s over-achievers thrive on innovation, effective measurement, challenge, and healthy company cultures that embrace diversity and new ideas. Movers and shakers give shark-tank startups more than an edge over their competition. They help reshape and define the marketplace, and push the envelope of preconceived notions and accepted benchmarks.
To recruit your industry’s best and brightest, think about what kind of business environment in which they thrive. Hiring strategies need to encompass more than just matching candidates with the desired skills to a needed role. Seeing how expensive it can be to attract, hire, train, and retain great employees, maximizing your human resources ROI (which in turn ensures your business’ vitality) can be simplified by embracing simple strategies.
Here are my top 4 ways to cultivate a healthy company culture:
Recruiters who know your business. Insist on using only the best recruiters who understand your company’s mission, vision, and goals. Be specific with desired traits that go beyond things like education and what programming languages a candidate may be proficient in. Define your must-have intangible qualities such as cooperation, affability, and creativity. Sometimes hiring attitude over skill is smarter than worrying about pedigree.
Cast a wider net. By allowing team members in certain roles to work virtually, you aren’t limited to geography in looking for the ideal talent for your business. Accountability tools to measure productivity abound with online project management and collaboration platforms, so location should not have to limit where you look for lead players.
Insist on transparency. It’s true that some elements of your overall business strategy, such as marketing and financials, should be kept confidential. But openly encourage employees to suggest new ideas for process improvement, eliminating waste, and to pursue emerging opportunities with zeal.
Environment of innovation and collaboration. Allow everyone to participate in building your company, regardless of role. Focus less on organizational hierarchy and more on bright ideas – which may originate with an intern or a VP, and anywhere in between. Leave ego out of meetings, and let all feel they have a place at the table. Doing so discourages gossip and fiefdoms, and the need to “protect” roles and responsibilities by focusing on a group effort.
By consistently raising the bar and not worrying about whom takes the credit, your company culture will not only attract but successfully retain the best human capital available in today’s competitive markets. Growth will be a state of being, not a once in a while event, which means unlimited opportunities for your business as a whole to thrive.
Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, based in Nashville.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for the sound advice of a business professional with expertise in the subject matter discussed. Please seek appropriate counsel on what strategies make sense for your business.