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Why your startup needs a culture deck

Friday, 19 June 2015 | By Tobey Fitch

A startup’s internal culture is just as important as the product or service it sells. A positive, inclusive culture is what attracts and retains the best employees—the ones who are responsible for building and selling that product or service. The more cohesive the culture, the happier your staff. The happier your staff are, the harder they will work and help a business to be successful.


Company culture means something different for every industry and organisation. There are companies that operate in silos with segregated offices and formal interaction. Then, there are businesses that run more informally, with ping pong tables in break rooms and open floor plans with people rotating desks on a weekly basis. That’s not to say any of these examples are the right fit or approach for every company.


At the core, a company’s culture comes down to its values, its mission and the behaviour and attitude of staff. The key to creating and maintaining a great company culture is communicating all of these things effectively, and getting staff involved. Here are a few tips to help you present your company’s culture effectively to both existing and prospective employees.


Engage your existing team by connecting work with values.


The daily grind of work can cause some people to forget the touchstones of a company’s culture. Refreshers and getting the team together can be very useful. Gather your employees together and have a conversation about why the team members do the work they do, what they value about working at your company, and what makes them passionate. This can also help you improve the approach to keeping the culture within the company, by knowing who to hire, fire and promote.


Reiterate your business values, talk about your mission statement and consider creating a culture or values deck—a visual representation of the things that your organisation holds near and dear.


Train managers on how to elicit cultural norms


While HR folk may be responsible for crafting a culture deck, managers should present it. A company’s culture is only as strong as the collective subcultures of its teams. If managers don’t embody the culture then it won’t stick. A company’s management training program should incorporate presentation skills starting with how to present the culture deck and other key corporate overview presentations to their new employees.


Additionally, consider a mentorship program. This tactic can be to help build a solid culture if the longtime members of your team exhibit behaviours aligned with your culture but newer employees do not. By pairing experienced staffers with junior ones, you may see your culture quickly transform for the better.


Attract top talent with killer culture


Experts agree that hiring for attitude—or cultural fit—is often more important than hiring to fill a specific skill set. Most skills can be taught, but attitude is inherent. With that in mind, during the interview phase talk to your prospective employee about the values your company holds close. You should ask the potential employee what motivates them and what they value. This way you will get a better understanding of whether they have the attitude to complement your business.


Share your mission statement with new candidates—consider presenting an abbreviated version of your company’s culture deck—and ask if they have any questions. From there, ask a series of behavioural questions. These are the questions that will help you gain insight into whether this person would be a good cultural fit for your team. Start your questions with the phrase, “tell me about a time when…” then insert scenarios (maybe when things didn’t go well with a client and he or she had to turn things around, or when they had to be flexible, or when they had a boss that they didn’t agree with and what they did to iron things out).


Listen closely to the candidate’s answers. If his or her responses don’t fit the values and attitude of your company’s culture, think twice before handing over the offer letter.


Tobey Fitch Head of Human Resources at Prezi.