Articles written by Zeeshan

The Truth About Building a Company Culture

The Truth About Building a Company Culture

I can safely say that building culture has been both one of my greatest challenges and proudest achievements as a CEO at Prizm Media. Today, I’m going to share four important lessons I’ve learned from building a company culture:

It’s Not Easy

Creating a culture that you can brag about is an investment. It’s an investment in time, money, and patience to figure out what works best for your specific group of employees. It’s also about connecting your employees wants and needs to the mission and vision you have set out for your business. Reconciling all these things into a plan that is clear, attainable, and feels organic can be a lengthy process. Creating an environment where people can connect on a personal level is truly key to learning everyone’s goals and aspirations. In my position, I am dedicated to creating a two-year growth plan for each employee to work towards it. Monthly and quarterly assessments for each employee are conducted by managers to identify skill gaps and find ways to close those gaps through workshops, education subsidiaries, mentorship, etc. At Prizm, we had a person switch from a marketing to computer science field and a marketing coordinator advancing to a C-level executive in a 5-year span. In short, investing in people is the best investment that you can make. The growth of a business is the by-product of helping out people who are willing to grow while aligning themselves to the mission of the company.

It’s A Team Sport

The toughest thing about developing a company culture is also one of the most challenging things about being an entrepreneur: giving up control. If you take one thing away from this article, it’s this: involve your employee in culture building. You’ve hired them because they are skilled, talented, and likely because they are a good fit with your larger vision. Chances are they have some really great ideas on how to develop your culture and transform your initial idea into a shared organizational vision. To be more specific, involve a diverse cross-section of your employees. Having employees from across departments, experience levels, and personality types will help solidify what the pieces of your company are that bring them all together. Those are the things that should form the foundation of your culture, and that you should be celebrating with your team. At Prizm, we have a committee team that brainstorms and plans out events and activities for the entire company to enjoy. From laser tag to outdoor bike rides, these events have created connectivity amongst employees like no other. At the end of the day, employees are people. If you can make people feel happy and have a bonding experience, there is no doubt that this will translate positively in their work and collaborative efforts. A culture really falls into place when you have people who contribute towards it.

It's Science

There’s a misconception that a company culture changes all the time. I disagree. I believe that it should always remain consistent with the core values for which it was built upon. What really changes are the activities and policies that are implemented to promote a desired culture. When I started my company, I knew I wanted my personal values of ethics and care to be at the forefront. This has driven Prizm Media to be an industry leader in healthcare compliance and we have people working together who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of chronically-ill patients. In addition, a work-life balance and family-centric environment was also something I wanted to promote at Prizm. Work-at-home, volunteer work days, daily huddles, monthly outings, and lunch and learns – are some of the policies and activities that we are trying out to express our company culture. As an entrepreneur, you must ask yourself the following questions:

“Is the company’s public perception aligned to my vision?” “What is the employee experience like?” “What are we doing to embrace my ideal culture and is it working?” Like science, it’s trial and error. Try out various policies and team activities, measure them, and see what’s working well. Employee satisfaction surveys are a great feedback tool to gauge your company culture and employee experience. But at the end of the day, it’s your vision of a culture and the ability to express and share it with people that matter the most. Always innovate on certain structures of your company and allow the culture to evolve to where it needs to be.

It’s Never Perfect

As entrepreneurs, we know that despite our best efforts, “perfect” doesn’t exist. This is also true of building your company culture. You will have employees that just don’t fit with the culture you’ve proposed. Though you can’t be perfect – you can always listen. Listen to dissident voices, listen to those who are championing your vision, and make informed decisions about the best step forward for your company’s culture. Also, don’t be afraid to seek outside of your company for advice. I suggest joining network organizations and see what others are doing. Know this: identifying the values, practices, and most importantly – feelings – that make up your company culture will take a long time and a lot of sweat and tears. Take your time, be prepared for change, and always make sure your employees are heard and included throughout. If you can do that, you are well on your way to a culture worth celebrating.

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