Six ways you can build a great culture of startups

In that they are created to provide products or services to a specific market, tech startups are very similar to traditional organizations. Tech startups are different from traditional organizations in many ways. These startups are businesses that have a strategy that is focused on growth rather than profit and aims to raise capital via VC and Private Equity funding. They also have a keen desire disrupt the market through a disruptive product or business model.

Some elements of organisational culture have spread across the tech ecosystem, creating a sub-culture commonly referred to as “Tech startup culture”.

Recently, tech startup culture has been the talk of the town. As a HR professional in the tech sector, this is a topic that I am passionate about. There are plenty of examples of tech startups that foster positive, wholesome and vibrant cultures. However, there are still many startups with less desirable cultures.

This article will give you a guideline on how to create a great culture in your startup’s tech company.

Start with the What Why

Great culture is rarely created naturally and without intention. It is important to know what your ideal culture looks and feels like. It’s important to be clear about questions such as:

  • What is the company vision
  • Which problem(s) is your product designed to solve?
  • What are the core values that will guide it?
  • Which behaviors are associated with these values?
  • What are some of the detractors?

Patty McCord, Netflix’s Chief Talent Officer (1998 – 2012) and co-Author of the famous Netflix Culture Deck described the process of defining the company’s values as a series of lightbulb moments that occurred after conversations with employees. These moments led to the development of “Freedom & Responsibility” as the underlying values that drive the Netflix Culture.

It is crucial to define what actions should be taken in your startup. Because employees have clear guidance and examples to help them decide what they should be reflecting or not. It helps employees understand what they can expect from colleagues and other members within the organization. It helps to set the tone for innovation activities such as creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, and creativity.

Look for Culture Fit

Establish a process for evaluating job applicants for cultural compatibility. This can be difficult.

Many tech giants like Google and Microsoft include Culture Fit Interviews in their hiring process. Google, in particular, requires that candidates demonstrate “Googleyness” (i.e. To scale up, Google requires that candidates demonstrate “Googleyness” (i.e.

Interviewing can be seen as an art or at best a social science. Humans are subject to varying degrees of variability.

It is crucial to avoid any unconscious bias when assessing culture fit. This could exclude or discriminate towards people who are from different backgrounds. Facebook changed the term “Culture Fit” to assess for “Values”, and launched a “Managing Unconscious bias” Training that nearly all of their senior leadership completed.

A culture fit assessment is a way to identify candidates who have strong soft skills and can demonstrate company values. This will allow you to identify people who are good team players, collaborate and add positive energy to your employee experience.

Establish routines and activities for the team

The tech industry continues to be dominated by fully remote and hybrid work teams. This can make it extremely difficult to drive and reinforce organisational culture.

It takes intentionality to ensure that teams from different locations and time zones feel connected to the organization and its values.

The key driver of organisational culture is routines and activities. They help to distribute and instill elements, as well as create shared experiences, establish norms, and provide platforms for cross-functional interaction. These activities can take place online, in person or at alternate times. Examples include company town halls and team bonding events.

Airbnb, for example, offers a variety of interactive experiences and online experiences that are hosted by experts in various fields.

The benefits of a routine or activity provide employees who work remotely and/or from home with unique team-building opportunities that benefit the organization’s cohesiveness.

Reinforce—Make it Stick

It is necessary to reinforce the organisational behavior after defining the desired behaviors of employees and assessing candidates for cultural fit during the recruitment process.

It is important that these behavior be publicly acknowledged [and when possible rewarded]To encourage others in the organization to emulate those actions. You can do this in many different ways. The Walt Disney Company for example has an Employee Recognition Award that’s named after Fred, a longtime employee who exemplifies the qualities the company values – like dependability and friendliness. Every year, Fred is given the honor of making plaques for winners of the “Spirit of Fred Award”.

It’s an effective strategy to allow for recognition to be given from people across all levels of the organization, and not have the ability to commend employees be reserved only for Leadership and the C-Level.

Be Human-Centered

Company policies are vital to the startup’s culture. If company values are the foundation and building blocks of its culture, then they will be the lifeblood. It is crucial to be human-centric when developing People policies and other policies that directly or indirectly affect employees. To consider ways in which policies might not only help to provide structure and efficiency for the organization but also ways in which they can help to shape the organization’s culture by focusing on its most critical resources—its people. Employee benefits policies, for example. Policies around things like employee benefits, e.g. paternity leave, employee well-being, e.g. mental health support, productivity coach, and the like help to tell the story about a startup’s culture because they highlight the values and beliefs of the company.

Do not be afraid to lead by example

The geniuses who think outside the box to find innovative solutions for mankind would make extraordinary leaders and just plain amazing people in a perfect world. In reality, however, this is not always true. Uber’s founder, CEO and pioneer in ride-hailing apps, resigned his post in 2017. His departure was triggered by complaints from employees about an aggressive and dysfunctional culture within Uber.

Startup founders should take the time to reflect on and become more aware of their leadership styles. Recognize and acknowledge their people skills, soft skills, and areas that need improvement. Then, work with intention to make changes.

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