How does a company culture develop in a startup? How do you ensure a healthy company culture in a new business?
A startup company culture develops over time through consistent positive actions, not by installing foosball tables or espresso machines. Once established, company culture solidifies and becomes very difficult to change. Therefore, it is important to keep your eye on its evolution and intervene when necessary.
Here are six principles to cultivating a healthy startup culture in which staff members do their best and enjoy their jobs.
Principle 1: Create a Workplace Where Everyone Flourishes
It’s impossible to hire only geniuses and rock stars, so stop trying to. Instead, focus your energies on creating a healthy startup culture in which every employee can do his or her best work. Even a mediocre employee can do outstanding work in a nurturing workplace. Give your employees the tools, space, privacy, respect, and trust they need to achieve greatness.
Principle 2: Treat Employees Like Adults
It’s a waste of time and energy to regulate your employees’ work hours or police their actions during the workday. Banning employees from social media sites or telling them they need approval for a $10 lunch expense creates a culture of mistrust—and doesn’t make them more productive.
Principle 3: Hire People Who Have a Life Outside Work
Workaholics throw extra hours at a problem when they should be looking for a smart, efficient shortcut. They’re martyrs who create more problems than they solve. You want to hire employees who know how to manage their time wisely and productively.
Instead of hiring someone who’s willing to give 100 hours a week to your company, hire the person who has a full, busy life outside of work. That person will be the most efficient worker.
Principle 4: Don’t Create Needless Policies
Just because an employee does something wrong once doesn’t mean you need to create a policy addressing the error. Policy-making often feels like punishment. Instead of punishing your whole crew for one person’s mishap, talk to that person directly. Only create a policy if the problem happens repeatedly.
Principle 5: Communicate Simply and Clearly
Direct, straightforward language is the only kind you should use with your employees (and also with the outside world). Don’t use industry jargon or corporate-speak in the interest of sounding “professional.” Drop the fake formality.
Whether you’re giving an employee feedback, writing a blog post, speaking at a conference, talking to customers, or writing an email, speak in your authentic voice.
Principle 6: Avoid Absolutist Language
Too often in business we use phrases like “I need this by the end of the day,” “we can’t spend more time on this,” or “you should be able to do this easily.” These kinds of directives create unnecessary tension and stress. Likewise, extreme words like “can’t,” “never,” and “need” send a bossy, do-what-I-say message. When people hear them, they bristle.
When you “need” something done immediately, try phrasing it as a question: “Do you think you could finish this by the end of the day?” And when you’re about to say you “can’t” launch the product in its current state, ask yourself if that’s really true. If it is, ask yourself if there’s another way to phrase it.
Along the same lines, limit your use of “ASAP.” Most things don’t really need to happen as soon as possible. Every request is not equally urgent, so save ASAP for when it really matters.
———End of Preview———
Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson's "Rework" at Shortform .
Here's what you'll find in our full Rework summary :
- Why the old-school process of starting a business doesn't work anymore
- Why you should completely ignore your business competition
- How to hire employees and help them thrive