Let’s say that you are a startup and that you have launched your operations and have recruited a larger team to keep up with your growth. You are now faced with the key decision of whether or not to establish a culture within your business. And actually, the choice of not setting one means that it will be implicitly chosen through the behavior and preferences of the top managers. So how can you create a great one? The main ideas to look at, I believe, is to set out a number of key values that should be used as clear guidelines for employees to feel empowered. So what do I believe are the most critical values to uphold?
It is critical that you should engage in transparency with your customers, your employees, and with your business partners. It is only through this that you will be able to build the trust necessary for these engagements to successfully work and will be the only way that you can effectively be sure that you can meet the expectations of what you promise to all of these stakeholders. It is much more reasonable to be truthful about what the product can effectively offer than to create unrealistic expectations within all of these stakeholders where they will realize that this cannot be achieved.
Whenever engaging with your customers, their needs and concerns should take priority and should be the principle on which your offer evolves. These needs and concerns should be taken seriously, and if there is a large enough consensus towards developing the product in that favor, it should execute in the way which maximises quality. This does not mean to spend the greatest amount of money or treat their product feature as a luxury but should be seen as an investment that should address the needs effectively in the most convenient way possible for the longest period of time. As I learned while working in a professional kitchen at the Four Seasons: it’s a lot more logical to do something once while putting the necessary resources in, both money and effort, than to do something mediocre and have to redo it once more.
Vision is required in order for you to effectively communicate what it is that you want your employees to work on and the direction in which they should develop new ideas and projects. The main issue with not having a vision from the top means that your employees will not know how to effectively take initiative when trying to develop your product or business. They will need very clear instructions and constant management in order to work effectively. It makes a lot more sense to establish a sense of ownership for them and to enable them to use their creativity to solve problems that might otherwise go unnoticed or not resolved although there is a clear and obvious solution to it. This primarily comes from your behavior as the manager of the corporation and will revolve around your own personal principles, especially if there are no efforts to set out a mission statement for the company as well as a set of values for employees to adhere by. This is done in corporations such as Four Seasons where the « Golden Rule »: treat others as you would like to be treated takes precedent and empowers employees to make their own decisions on how to improve the customer experience.
One of the main difficulties that can be faced by employees and managers alike in startups is the overlapping responsibility between different roles. It is critical to establish who is responsible for what critical tasks and what tasks can be picked up by others. This will allow for the best utilization of everyone’s time while attempting to balance the workload more effectively between all team members. Additionally, when establishing these important priorities, it is also really important to take into account the level of skill and experience of each team member when deciding on responsibilities and where synergies could arise. It makes a lot more sense for someone with experience in marketing to manage the marketing tasks and if there are too many tasks for this person, it is critical that these tasks are handed over to someone else with proper training and understanding as to why the task is being carried out and an understanding and how it should be done. If this key transitional phase is not achieved, the new person in charge will be confused and the quality of the task may drop significantly. This is why although it makes sense to have interns on board in order to develop your business, it is critical that they are being supervised by someone with experience and with the responsibility of setting a direction for that department.
Thank you for reading this article and I hope that you have learned something from this. As always, if you are looking for a workspace right in the center of Lausanne, feel free to drop by for a visit at our coworking space next to the Place de la Riponne!