People + Process = Performance

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What Entrepreneurs Need to Learn about Company Culture

I was talking with a colleague recently about organizational culture, and how critical it is for startups and emerging companies to create a culture where employees want to work. We also discussed the fact that many small business owners and leaders don’t know how to build and sustain a company culture in which employees are likely to contribute and thrive.

Startups can emulate Google and other tech giants: provide free snacks, hold poof ball tournaments and bring pets to work – but there is far more to creating a productive and happy workplace that attracts and keeps top talent.

Often, in the drive to secure funding, roll out products, and gain social media attention, founders overlook important, fundamental issues that can lead to problems. Likewise, many small and medium-sized company owners are so involved working ‘in the business’ that they fail to work ‘on the business’. Here’s a short list of proven principles (are these still taught in business schools?):

  1. Be absolutely clear on what you expect. Don’t leave employees guessing about what you want them to do.
  2. Treat people fairly. Favoritism breeds contempt, not loyalty.
  3. Let them know how they are doing; “Catch them doing something right” (Johnson, 1982).
  4. Praise in public, criticize in private – enough said.
  5. Families matter. Enable employees to stay home with sick kids, keep medical appointments, drive them to school and attend daytime events.
  6. Create and follow consistent employment practices for: Recruiting and Selection, Onboarding, Training and Coaching and Managing Performance.
  7. Demonstrate transparency: Let everyone know how the company is doing both in good times and bad.

There are many books on culture and several helpful surveys and tools to transform organizations. What is lacking is consistent, effective execution. Small things can make a big difference. Heed the words of the late, great business philosopher, Jim Rohn, who often said: “Don’t let your learning lead to knowledge… make it lead to action!”

Take the first step by requesting a copy of ‘Critical Actions to Sustain Performance’ a free, handy, color chart that lists 18 steps to positively affect company culture. To discuss how to transform your culture, contact Eric by phone at 408-476-1233, by email: or on the web

Eric Doner is a nationally recognized author, speaker and consultant on human workplace performance. He is the founder and President of AchieveCorp, a national firm that provides consulting, tools and training to help improve performance of people and process in organizations. ©AchieveCorp 2013


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