Building company culture from the ground up

By Kristopher Powell

Kristopher Powell

Kristopher Powell

You’ve obtained funding, found a location and have a business plan. You have started signing up clients, producing your products, generating some cash flow. Your dream is starting to grow and become a reality. The time has come to start adding people to the mix. Time to hire your first employee.

Before you place an ad, before you hire a recruiter, you need to ask yourself: “What kind of person am I looking to hire? Will they get along with me personally and will they fit within my vision for the future?”  

Congratulations. You have started building the foundation for your company’s culture. Establishing your vision of what you would like your company’s culture to be is paramount for your organization's success. Company culture does not grow from vague or canned mission statements, adding ping-pong tables in your lobby or tasty snacks in the breakroom. It’s about the heart, personality and drive of a company. It’s about the employees’ respect and commitment in a position in which they are allowed to thrive.

By this point you may be asking: “I just started my company, how do I even know what my culture is?” A company culture is established by the founder’s core values and business goals. It is about identifying those goals and understanding the steps necessary to achieve them. A culture is about who you and who your employees are. Your actions, your behaviors, your treatment of clients and one another. Culture must be adaptive. It is organic. As industries change, as workforce changes, so should your culture. A company’s culture 40 years ago was much different than the culture of today. 

Constructing a mission
Begin by writing down your core values. Write down your vision for your company’s future. From there it is easy to construct the mission of your company and establish the driving force of your organization. Write it down. Make it tangible. Make it the common language that everyone speaks.

Use your mission to hire people who share your core values. Everyone you hire should share your vision of the company, and speak that same language. Your team of leaders and dedicated employees will grow from there.

A great company culture doesn’t happen by accident. It happens due to a well thought out plan, which is much easier if established from the beginning. You have taken time to develop a successful business plan. Now is the time to establish a carefully constructed plan for your culture. A great company culture is one of the most valuable assets a company can have.

In order to build a successful culture one must literally build it. Create a strong foundation of core values, add to that the framework of people who share your goals and vision. Add walls of respect, consideration and collaboration. Paint with open and frequent communication and, lastly, decorate with a fun, supportive, relaxed atmosphere.

“If you build it, they will come,” holds true for building a great company culture. By building a strong foundation and a great culture, you will attract and retain top talent. Yours will be the organization that people simply want to work for, and a strong team drives a successful business.

Company culture is a strategy. Probably the most important strategy you will have as an organization. I will leave you with four rules to live by to nourish and help grow your company’s culture. First, always be the boss you would want to work for. Second, find the best in people and build on that. Third, focus on the positive, and manage the negative and, last but certainly not least, spend time laughing each day. Use these rules to help establish your culture. Hire people who fit your vision, and create a strong team that will help build your growing enterprise. 

Kris Powell is the CEO and president of HRPro/BenePro. With over 30 years’ experience in the benefits and HR arena, Powell is a highly respected authority in the industry. Serving on the board of United Benefit Advisors (UBA), a group he helped charter in 2002, he is constantly striving to find new and exciting solutions for his clients’ benefit and HR administration needs.