Great company culture isn't created overnight. At Hireology, the company I co-founded eight years ago, we put a lot of intention, action and oversight into making sure we have a culture by design; culture by default doesn't give us the competitive edge we need to achieve our goals. We work hard at it every single day.
1. Increase transparency
In the absence of clear information, your team will fill in the blanks with a litany of "worst case scenarios." Pat in Customer Service was let go? Mass layoffs are coming!
Share information. Talk about your cash balance, and how you manage it. When you show your comfort level with openly discussing important information, you communicate a critical component of great workplace culture: I trust you.
2. Reconfirm the vision
Your early joiners drank the Kool-Aid, but you've hired lots of new people since then. Do they know why you started this company?
At the next town hall, put together a 10 slide "pitch deck" and present the business as if you're talking to a venture capital firm. Make a passionate case for why you should exist as a business, and why your team should back you 100%. Inspire them to give every ounce of incremental effort that they can.
3. Fire someone
I want you to think of "that person." You know who this person is: When you go to bed at night, as your head hits the pillow, the last thought running through your mind is, "How. In the world. Did this person. Get a job. In. My. Company?"
Keeping this person employed signals to everyone else that you're willing to tolerate mediocrity. That violating company core values is ok.
Fire this person. Do it today. Do it humanely, do it legally. But do it.
4. Thank someone with a handwritten note
When was the last time you got an honest-to-God handwritten note or letter? It's probably been a while, right?
It takes time and thoughtfulness on the part of the sender to hand-write a note. It's a real, tangible thing. Think of someone in your organization who's done something great, and thank them with a handwritten note.
5. Give public praise
Someone in your company did something amazing last week. They landed that deal, they saved the account, they engineered the solution.
Walk into the center of your office and make that announcement. Publicly share this individual's accomplishment, and why it was exceptional. Ask everyone to give a standing ovation. (Make it loud!)
6. Show vulnerability
You might think you're approachable, but you're not. You're the CEO, and you're scary.
Remind your team that you're still a human being with hopes, dreams and fears about the business. Talk about a low point in your career, how you got there, and how you got back on track. Talk about your successes, what you're most proud of, and why.
7. Run a contest
There's a reason that game shows have been among the highest-rated television programs for over 60 years: they're fun.
Pick a target you'd like to hit - new appointments set, new accounts opened, anything - and whoever hits that target gets raffle ticket. At the end of the month, raffle off a three day weekend. Second place gets a $50 gift card. Third place, you're fired! (Kidding.)
8. Sit on the sales floor
What inspiring leader sits thirty miles behind the front lines? Go to where the action is and rally your team.
Pick an open desk on the sales floor and spend the next five hours making cold calls with them. Put 100 percent effort into it -- exceed your own number. Talk to prospects, set meetings. Show that it can be done, and that the sales role is a critical one, because without new business, there is no business.
9. Take a team to lunch
What's the least-recognized team in your company? It's time to give them some props.
Reserve a private room at a nice restaurant, and take a two hour lunch. Don't skimp, get loads of appetizers and order everyone desert. Show your love for the people who grind it out for you every day.
10. Give everyone a day off this Friday
Your team has worked its tail off this month, and you're darn proud of them. Everyone gets Friday off. Have a great weekend, see you Monday.
11. Interview your superstars
Grab a smartphone and shoot an interview-style video with three of your star performers. Hearing your best people talk about why they love what they do inspires everybody.
Post it on YouTube. Social media the heck out of it.
12. Ask for feedback
Everyone has room to improve - even you. So, send an email to your entire company and ask for their help.
Create a Google form that gives them the space to provide anonymous feedback on how you're doing as CEO. What could you do differently? What could the company do differently?
Want better culture? Do these twelve things. Do them now.