Building your culture: 5 things to get right first

BLUF: “If you need to motivate people, you’ve already lost the battle.” – @neil_killick

I have made previous posts about culture being a very important part to your recruitment and retention.  I cannot stress enough about how culture will make or break your team.  Before going out and hiring a bunch of people build the culture to create an incredible atmosphere that teammates want to come back to everyday and not dread work.

  1. Business values
    What is your mission statement and what type of values do you hold true in order to provide the best service?
  2. Benefits
    Don’t just look at 401k, medical, dental, vision, long term and short term life insurance.  What are things that you do to make sure you stand out from the crowd?  New Macbook Pro for each new employee with a buy back program, birthdays off, open work hours, etc.
  3. Office fun
    What are you providing at the office to promote team building?  Scotch tastings, Homemade BBQ, Mariokart tournament, etc.?  The best team building event I have seen to date is my company hosting Extra Life Video Game Charity.  It wasn’t what everyone wanted to do, but got a lot of people involved because the owner’s knew what there company culture was like and what would take it to the next level.
  4. Career growth
    Provide a path for junior a mid level employees to build their career.  These employees are going to be contacted a lot and if you are attempting to hold them back to save a few bucks, then you will quickly see them exit stage left.  If you don’t have the space for promotion, then sometimes salary will ease the pain, but it won’t always work.
  5. Projects
    Believe it or not people care what they work on.  Software engineers don’t want to bounce around between different tech stacks.  If their resume says C# and MVC don’t assume they are ok with ASP.NET Web Forms.

Building a good culture is a hard thing to do.  In my opinion it is about as hard as finding the right idea or better mouse trap, but without it it will be difficult to maintain a consistently strong team to lead you through all the struggles.

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