Six Tactics for Nurturing Company Culture
At Mainsail, we believe a strong company culture is essential to long-term success. We also recognize there is no universal playbook when it comes to culture, as every company requires something unique. Over the years, however, we have seen trends in culture-driving tactics that support success.
Here are six cultural tactics that can have an impact, and examples of our portfolio companies that have put them to good use.
1ACTIVATE YOUR CULTURE
It’s not enough to develop your mission/vision/values, print it on a poster, and hang it up to fade in the sunlight. Instead, you should activate your culture by embedding it into day-to-day operations, meetings, compensation incentives, company goals and promotion tracks.
Culture in Action: After the team at 3PL Central agreed on their core values, they assigned a color to each team (e.g. Red for Marketing, Blue for Customer Success, etc.) to share inter-departmental acknowledgment. Team members nominate peers through an online recognition survey which are shared publicly by placing the correlating colored block on their desk. This simple program allows employees to celebrate their shared values in a positive and visible way.
2Use Transparency to Magnify Shared Goals
Gone are the days of closed-book, fear-based leadership. We find that today’s successful companies are empowering their teams by making success metrics visible within the company and rewarding publicly. Just like an exercise class that drives you to work harder based on the athletes around you, transparent tracking of success metrics can keep everyone aligned on company goals.
Culture in Action: At SentryOne, flat screen TVs throughout the office project real-time data on sales leaderboards, bookings and marketing metrics. By publishing these metrics openly, the company has established a culture of clear goals, public recognition and productive competition.
3Create Systems to Foster Connection
With remote offices, flexible hours and global locations, staying connected has become more important and more complex than ever. Technology is fighting to keep up with demand and, as a result, a wide array of tools is available to connect your company. Our portfolio companies use tools such as Slack, Zoom, DropBox and Uber Conference to ensure consistent communication.
Culture in Action: GTreasury wanted to maintain a collaborative spirit within the company, especially once they acquired Australia-based Visual Risk which increased headcount and complexity. To do so, GTreasury tried a couple of collaborative technologies such as Slack, HipChat, GoToMeeting, Zoom, Skype, etc. that allows audio, video, screen sharing, file sharing, chat, etc. in one place and at everyone’s fingertips. They augmented these collaboration technologies to regular company-wide town-halls and company-wide global email updates. Now everyone in the company uses Slack heavily to collaborate with other individuals, coordinate project activities, team meetings, ad-hoc group gathering to sharing personal/fun stuff. It has connected all remote offices, across continents, to remain plugged in on the latest-greatest, ensure a faster response, and bolster a sense of community.
4Clarify your Mission, then Amplify It
Your employees can only rally behind a company culture if they understand it. Clarify your company’s mission for your leadership team and then communicate it clearly and continually to your employees. Consider setting a BHAG, a “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal” aligned with your core mid-term business goals, and then rally the entire team behind achieving it.
Culture in Action: One year, Paylease CEO Dave Dutch promised to not cut his hair until the company met their BHAG. He held to that promise, much to his wife’s dismay. His dedication, resilience and physical reminder of commitment went a long way toward inspiring his team to achieve this audacious goal. This is a great example of serious goals intersecting with employee engagement and fun.
5Make it Enjoyable
Given how much time we all spend in our places of work, it’s okay to make them enjoyable. Today’s fierce competition for talent now requires companies to combine a clear purpose with a fun work environment. Whatever makes your office click—free snacks, beer on tap, flexible hours, napping pods, office outings—consider investing in it and promote it to your employees.
Culture in Action: At Zen Planner, a company that provides business management software for fitness organizations, the leadership decided to live out the company’s purpose by incorporating exercise into the everyday work routine. They built a gym in the office and held classes, many of which were taught by employees.
The increased emphasis on corporate social responsibility tells us that today’s employees want to work for a company that cares about doing good. There are countless ways to give back: team up with a local charity, organize regular volunteer opportunities or donate a percentage of your earnings. When narrowing down your approach, look for a local charitable organization whose purpose or target population complements your own.
Culture in Action: While attending an SQL Server User Group meeting, a Sentryone employee learned about Hero Flights, which provides combat-wounded veterans with free air transportation. He then invited Hero Flights to speak at the SentryOne Pub where the company decided to become an official sponsor. Hero Flights and SentryOne are both North Carolina based organizations that promote community; the partnership has been meaningful and inspiring to Hero Flights and employees alike.
There can be no assurance other third-party analyses would reach the same conclusions as those provided herein. The information herein is not and may not be relied on in any manner as, legal, tax, business or investment advice.
The portfolio companies identified herein do not represent all of the investments made or recommended by Mainsail and were not selected based on the performance of such investments. Rather, they were selected as representative examples of culture initiatives undertaken by certain Mainsail portfolio companies that are illustrative of the tactics described herein. These portfolio companies are meant to show a portion of the Mainsail portfolio and are not intended to be representative of any current and future investments.
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