Culture Predictions: How to Build an Award-Winning Startup Culture
While every organization works hard toward meeting its business objectives, this year we will see workplaces taking a greater interest in promoting work-life integration along with emphasizing employees’ pursuit of goals outside of the office. Rather than putting stress on employees and rewarding those who put work before everything else, employers will look to adopt a more personalized approach to handling individual recognition and the fulfillment of personal goals (i.e. getting in shape, writing a book, taking guitar lessons) as a way to create a driven, loyal and motivated workforce and balanced company culture.
This approach will keep your startup’s employees focused, helping each other to excel, and operating as a high-performance team.
Millennial values will combine with Gen X values
The concepts of meaning and empathy will become a huge part of the workplace DNA for startups this year. It’s no secret that these values are extremely important to millennials (who will occupy 46 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020) and will now become equally necessary to build a healthy, high-performing workforce. Employers who previously shrugged off the millennial mentality toward the workplace will need to adapt to motivate teams past the basic incentives of extra pay and perks.
While millennials dominate the workplace in numbers, the often overlooked Gen X will assume the majority of leadership roles. Gen X are ambitious leaders and share the desire of millennials to have more purpose in work and work/life integration. The winning formula for your startup’s company culture ideally appeals to both groups by being clear about its vision and purpose, while also clearly outlining goals and accountability.
Gen X managers are independent thinkers that are driven by meritocracy. They’re happy to give millennials a promotion or raise as long as they are willing to accept the accompanying KPIs and accountability that come with that responsibility. Honest feedback will become more frequent and transparent, while also championing praise (something that millennials crave), while more “radical candor” about what’s not working and areas where people need to improve will balance the equation. The path to creating a culture of high performance and profitability can only be successful if employees are motivated, directly challenged and personally cared for at the same time, as advocated by Kim Scott.
Leadership defines and shapes company culture
Leadership has a huge role to play in shaping a startup’s culture. To build and promote a satisfied and engaged team, entrepreneurs in leadership positions should focus on:
- Establishing core values that are the building blocks of company culture
Core values are the guiding principles for a company and help inform your company culture. Including your team in the creation of those values can help employees feel more connected, aligned and empowered. Most importantly through, they are operationalized as the backbone of workplace processes (e.g. promotions, hiring, employee rewards and transitions). If you really have core values properly integrated, no one should need a piece of paper to recite what they are. They know them by heart and act on them.
- Respecting and holding employees accountable
Cultivating an environment that embraces respect, values accountability and encourages healthy debate with different points of view is key. Additionally, empathy (especially in the wake of recent, and seemingly never-ending, workplace harassment stories) will change the way leaders interact and communicate with employees. We’ll see a softer touch from leadership and an eye toward more discerning behavior.
- Listening to employees and creating a culture of continuous feedback
Consistently seeking feedback, hearing everyone within your startup and being transparent about any changes the company is adopting will also be key alongside “open book” management. It’s also important to be transparent with employees by regularly sharing progress on the company’s performance. When employees understand the financial impact of their work, it boosts creativity and productivity to drive the business forward.
Develop future leaders by investing in coaching and mentoring
Coaching is estimated to be a $ 2 billion global industry and is rapidly growing. The new year will see leaders increasingly focused on ways to coach and mentor teams, which will help them develop and make the most of their strengths to add value.
The value of a coach or mentor within your startup cannot be understated. Investing in a coaching program can provide your team with vital lessons in accountability and provide a framework for achieving new internal and personal benchmarks. Employees today, especially in the modern (millennial) workforce, want to have guidance and mentorship as a way to better learn and advance toward their goals, which can oftentimes be outside of their comfort zones. This means coaches can become an excellent avenue toward maximizing employee potential across the board.
Overall, a well-defined company culture is no longer only about benefits and hefty bonuses. Startups with strong cultures are often more specific about who they are, who they aren’t and what they stand for. Moreover, they are consistent, and live and breathe the culture they share every day.
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