Laying The Groundwork For Success: Building Your Company’s Culture
February 21, 2017
It’s easy to assume that all it takes for a team to be effective is a clear set of roles and responsibilities, a quality product, and a solid action plan.
In a lot of ways, that’s completely true. But take a look at any truly effective company—companies like Google, Apple, or Amazon—and it’s immediately clear that there is something else there that makes them special. Something that makes them stand out in a crowd of companies that might even deliver the same service or product.
As graphic recorders, we’ve had a unique glimpse into what makes these companies tick; and the opportunity to help them refine it through visual communication tools.
What we’ve learned is that what makes them stand out isn’t just what they produce. It’s how they produce it; it’s their company culture, the way it resonates with their employees, and in the end how it resonates with their consumer base.
Whether you think of it as the environment you create for your employees, or as a way of working that aligns with your team’s mission, one thing is clear. Culture is a defining trait of any successful business, and one that warrants close attention.
Here are a few things to think about when defining your company culture.
What’s Our “WHY?”
Most entrepreneurs begin their business with a purpose in mind. Whether you’re providing a good or a service, it’s important to consider the simple question “Why?” Finding the answer to this question will help you define your true mission and the values that support it. These are important, since they will keep everyone focused on the long term goal even when you’re mired in the stress of daily tasks.
You can’t predict where you’ll be in the next five years, but it helps to have some sort of ideal of what that place looks like. Having a sense of why you do what you do will help you make difficult decisions and recognize what actions are productive and what actions will lead you off course.
Need a little more help? Check out Draw Your Big Idea, by ImageThink co-founders Nora Herting and Heather Willems. The book is packed with visual thinking exercises to help move you towards a deeper understanding of what you do, why you do it, and how you can do it even better.
Having Trouble Finding Your “Why”?
Employees are a precious resource, and obviously have a major impact on the health of your company culture. Anyone who has the power to hire new team members should make sure that the people they bring on board have 1) the capability to execute their duties with excellence, but also 2) values and behavior that mesh with the goals and principles of your organization.
That’s not to say everyone you hire should be the same. Finding people with different perspectives is vital to a vibrant, living work culture. It just means that at core, your team members should be able to work together towards a common, shared goal.
The benefits of being scrutinous in hiring is obvious—you want skilled staff that are enthusiastic about helping you build your business, who will contribute valuable input about important decisions, and who will help move you towards your company’s north star of success, whatever that means for you.
How Can Your Team Contribute To Your Company Culture?
Once you’ve onboarded the right people, it’s crucial to give them the tools to collaborate, and to harness their valuable insights. Input from employees is crucial—it helps gauge whether an organization is acting effectively, whether expectations are being met, and whether your company’s culture is aligned with successful outcomes.
Having trouble learning from your employees?
Whether during a conference or a cocktail our, we’ve empowered employees to share their stories through our social listening murals; and in turn, empowered leadership to make informed decisions.
Expectations Vs. Reality: What Guides Your Interactions?
Our team at ImageThink has supported a number of leadership meetings where we helped chief officers crystallize the expectations and behaviors that create collaborative, productive, and inclusive environments.
Does your company champion accountability? How about diversity? Do you place heavy emphasis on expediency? Is it sound to lean towards quality output over high volume?
Laying out a foundation of values provides context for interaction and communication to individuals, teams, and departments within your organization.
Looking for a way to set the tone in your office space and get everyone’s expectations on the same page?
At ImageThink, we literally drew out the values that keep our organization going strong, and hung the infographic mural in our space. Branding our space with our values helps us keep them in mind, better support one another, and provide a greater framework for the day to day work we do.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Whether you need help finding your company culture, or just want your next meeting to reflect it, ImageThink is here to help.
From graphic recording, to social listening, to space branding, ImageThink has helped thousands of companies find out who they really are—and to use that knowledge to empower better decisions and bolder actions.