Rob Johnson
Feb 16, 2015
5 mins reading time

Developing the right culture

Recently, at work, we’ve been discussing how we have managed to create the positive, engaging culture that we all feel we have.

We’ve spoken to people outside of our company and found that they often struggle trying to create the kind of culture we see when we look at some of the Times Best 100 Companies to work for and want to know how you can create the kind of culture you can be proud of.

It has been extremely hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that has created the environment that we all spend our days bouncing around in.

The following things are true for our culture;

  • We each push hard to excel (we all want to learn & grow).

  • We can fail and failure is embraced as part of the learning process.

  • We spend time researching and learning.

  • We can each challenge practices or ideas (when we go into a meeting all hierarchies are left at the door).

  • We constantly seek peer review, and take criticism constructively.

  • We know our weaknesses as well as our strengths.

  • We have amazing play time.

  • We, genuinely, are all friends and have each others backs.

So, how have we got here?

Again, this is quite a difficult question to answer, but that’s the point of this so I’ll try.

I think it is paramount to have people in your team who care. Obviously, not just about themselves. They need to care about the product, the customer, their colleagues and themselves. Everyones well-being should be a consideration.

We all have those moments when our verbal filter malfunctions, but we can’t all be like that all of the time. However, we should be like that some of the time. Allow yourselves to be brutally honest with each other, as long as it is constructive.

Management MUST trust every member of each team to be able to do their job and to do it well. You have to have that relationship where you know you’re allowed to get on and produce the best that you’re capable of and, in turn, your manager should be rewarded for that trust, by you delivering the best that you can.

Don’t let people be afraid to question decisions, that should be expected. There is no point having a room full of “yes men”.

Also, make it common place to ask for help. If you’re working on something that you know your colleague knows better than you, get their help, their input and produce better work because of the collaboration.

Our people are like this.

How can other companies build their own culture?

It’s very hard to change an existing culture, but I think it is so much easier coming from the top down. If you’re in a senior position use it to your advantage. Let your juniors challenge you, be open to their ideas and honest with your responses.

Ask the opinions of your colleagues, including those in other departments / disciplines.

Look at your team, do they look like they need a break? Then have one, take five minutes, go outside, kick around a football or organise a fun event.

Get involved in local meet-ups, encourage team members to go with you. I’m not the only one that really sees the benefits in this kind of networking - checkout this post by hpoom. Hell, if it means an hour or so out of work make sure you allow it. You’ll see such a difference when the enthused team member returns.

Let’s flip the coin.

You are fairly junior, but you know all this “good stuff” about cultures and making a productive, enjoyable working environment.

What to do…what to do?

Talk to your colleagues, be the one to ask the questions, be the one to ask for help, while explaining that you think you’d get a better end product and learn at the same time with that help.

Be the organiser. It’s easy, start with something everybody loves…food. Create a monthly “payday takeaway”. Come on, that sounds good, right?

Do research and find examples and share them with your team and your seniors. Show that it makes a difference.

In closing…

The funny thing is that, good people will create a good culture, which will attract good people, which will create an even better culture. It’s almost like a self learning, self improving system. As long as you keep it clean, don’t let the bad stuff build up and don’t be afraid to have a bit of a clean out to stop any bad “juju” spreading.

We all have to work, but the really good people enjoy their jobs and they pick jobs that they will be able to enjoy or be able to make a difference and make more enjoyable. If those good people work for you, well done. That is because you cared enough to make their job enjoyable.

Tags culture