Workplace Culture And Why It Matters

“Culture, is simply a shared way of doing something with passion.” – Brian Chesky, CEO Airbnb

There is nothing more fulfilling than having a shared goal with like-minded people who feel just as enthusiastic as you do. Not only do our goals make us feel driven and relevant, but they unite us with those who share the same feelings – often inspiring us to share it with those who haven’t been exposed to them yet. This feeling is what creates a successful workplace culture.
In the Mad Men TV series, employees are utterly worn out. Bosses facilitate an unjust hierarchy system and the main approach to tasks is fast and cheap. Essentially, nobody enjoys their job. Such workplace culture exists and sometimes it’s even found in small businesses. The real question is, why do people endure it?
Technology and a growing number of individuals wanting to work in environments that align with their principals have challenged old workplace systems. This has opened up opportunities to those who are in touch with their values and would like them to be apparent within the workplace.
Creating a workplace culture around ideals takes a lot of vision and hard work. Seeing what business leaders who have worked through the trials and errors of organisations have to say about it might be a good idea.
Listed here are 10 statements that thinkers, leaders and entrepreneurs have made about the importance of great workplace culture. These visions could help you set up a base for your business which will work alongside technology.

1. Don’t F**k Up the Culture

Brian Chesky (Airbnb‘s co-founder and CEO) received $150M investment from venture capitalist Peter Thiel accompanied by one simple instruction “Don’t f**k up the culture.” Thiel elaborated saying that one of the reasons he had invested in Airbnb was their unique culture. That’s how important company culture is. Chesky took this advice to heart and shared it with his team. He later stated that “the thing that will endure for 100 years, the way it had for most 100 year [old] companies, is the culture. The culture is what creates the foundation for all future innovation. If you break the culture, you break the machine that creates your products.”

2. Building Business That Lasts

In an interview with Scott Heiferman (CEO of Meetup), Jason Fried, co-founder of Basecamp talked about the importance of culture in building businesses that last. Jason talks about the misconception that entrepreneurs are only those who open new business after new business and that the people praise companies in the startup phase too much. According to him, the real heroes of business are the small mom and pop shops that have managed to be in business for 25+ years without being driven out. Jason says that this kind of success and business sustainability can only be achieved through strong company culture

3. Your Manifesto, Your Culture

Author Seth Godin approaches company culture as a manifesto. It’s like taking what you believe in the most and making a statement to the world. But most importantly, living by it. Often that means “doing what is right, not what is easy.” He says “it’s so easy to string together a bunch of platitudes and call them a mission statement. But what happens if you actually have a specific mission, a culture in mind, a manifesto for your actions?” Only then it will become a type of “leadership that rejects complacency, breaks through bureaucracy, and challenges corruption.” That’s when company cultures become a kind of competitive advantage.

4. The Power of Vulnerability

Researcher Brené Brown talks about the benefits of vulnerability in creating a workplace culture. The first step is for CEOs and senior leaders to embrace vulnerability in their work life. To lose “workplace armour” and show that they too feel overwhelmed. That they don’t have all the answers. That asking for help is ok. Once they embrace their vulnerability it’s just a matter of leading by example to create a culture of tolerance, acceptance and authenticity within employees. This tool helps you as a business to improve create stronger bonds among your team member, improve workplace happiness and team efficiency.

5. You Don’t Create a Culture

Jason Fried, co-founder of Basecamp compares genuine and artificial culture. He says genuine culture is like patina while the artificial culture is paint. Genuine culture is built over time through action, reaction and truth. Contrastingly, artificial culture is instant and empty. He says that “you don’t create a culture. Culture happens. It’s the by-product of consistent behaviour. If you encourage people to share, and you give them the freedom to share, then sharing will be built into your culture. If you reward trust then trust will be built into your culture.”

6. The Culture of Netflix

The CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings says that “actual company values are the behaviour and skills that are valued in fellow employees.”  He says to forget nice-sounding and predictable words such as “Integrity, Respect and Excellence.” They are too generic and don’t transmit ant truth. It makes it sounds like you just threw a bunch of words there without even being sure what they mean to your company. Instead, promote values that are meaningful and straight forward and explain them to your employees. Choose words like “Courage, Innovation, Passion”.

7. Culture Code

Hubspot has a massive and everchanging culture code that guides their company. Their approach to culture is “whether you like it or not, you’re going to have a culture. Why not make it one you love?” A while ago they decided that as they value transparency so much, they were going to share their culture with the world. You can have a look at it here. 

8. Ben Chestnut on Creative Mornings

The founder of Mailchimp, Ben Chestnut, discusses quitting jobs that don’t fulfil your passions and intellectual needs – emphasising to invest your time in something you love doing. And the job of company culture is just that. To make it a little bit easier for employees to love their jobs.

2011/12 Creative Mornings with Ben Chestnut from CreativeMornings/Atlanta on Vimeo.

9. The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

This animated clip narrated by author Dan Pink and constructed from his book “Drive”, focuses on how the personalities of leaders can create culture. It’s important to acknowledge the motivations behind every decision and maintain it.


10. Moz and Core Values

Sarah Bird, the CEO of Moz, focuses on creating and maintaining company culture through hiring. When hiring new team members, she evaluates whether their core values align with those of the organisation. As your organisation grows and starts getting recognition, the people whose values resonate with your organisation’s will end up gravitating towards it, ultimately coming to you BECAUSE of your values. She also compares company culture to muscle strength. To stop employees from losing sight of it“you have to keep working out. It’s a muscle you have to keep using,”

To sum up

There are a few things that bridge these 10 ideas with one and another – emphasising how vital values, behaviours and that motivation is the true key to keeping everyone motivated and joyous within the workplace.
Incorporating these practices and getting them right will take time. Trial and error isn’t always damaging for a business. Maybe, you hire the wrong person, but you adapt. It’s during these errors that you should look over your values once again and make sure they are being met.
Creating a workplace culture is like the foundation of a house. It should never be hurried, otherwise, everything from above could come crashing down.
Cyrus the Great said:

“We discussed how wonderful it would be if a man could train himself to be both ethical and brave, and to earn all he needed for his house­hold and himself.

That kind of man, we agreed, would be appreciated by the whole world. But if a man went further still, if he had the wisdom and the skill to be the guide and governor of other men, supplying their needs and making them all they ought to be, that would be the greatest thing of all.”

It not only benefits you but your customers, team and businesses progress. Practising great workplace culture gives everyone security, freedom, motivation and a meaningful place to work. There’s great pleasure in helping everyone live in a world, where they feel a part of.


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