Company Culture & Why it Matters
Wednesday June 5, 2019
More often than not, the day-to-day of running a small business looks like a long, disjointed checklist. The reality of having limited resources and big dreams is that we’re all wearing multiple hats on the daily, sometimes hopping from one end of the business to another. While I’d love to spend more mornings discussing the changing tides of the stationery industry or taking a course on small business finances or even simply thinking about these things, the more immediate needs of the business have to take precedent. Of all the intangibles that simmer quietly on the backburner, one that we do try to give our constant attention to is company culture. Five years in, and we couldn’t overstate the necessity of fostering a strong, sustainable company culture that aligns with our business’s core values.
It’s such an elusive thing, culture - it’s the personality of the business, the je ne se quois that characterizes the atmosphere of a work environment. As important as it is, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for creating it, no set of policies for achieving it, no concrete standards for measuring it. And yet, from a leadership perspective, company culture must be intentionally planned, communicated, and cultivated daily. Every moment in the studio is an opportunity to either solidify or disintegrate our company culture, from the way we speak to one another to how we handle conflict or navigate challenges. Ours is absolutely a work-in-progress, as I imagine it will be for the length of Our Heiday’s life, but here are a few things we’ve learned along the way:
1. Company culture should be an extension of your core values
Until we determined our company’s core values, our company culture felt a bit hazy - almost like we were trying to manufacture personality without having character. Once we nailed down the values that would undergird and shape everything we do (and how we do it), it was easier to define our company culture, communicate it to our team, and come back to it daily.
2. Company culture does not happen organically
While strong company culture should feel organic and authentic, it does not happen naturally. Given the diverse, and sometimes even conflicting, personalities and perspectives within a team, it only makes sense that a passive approach to cultivating company culture is nearly impossible. Creating and maintaining company culture requires deliberate, daily effort from the top down. It is caught, not taught.
3. Company culture is a non-negotiable
We’ve operated the business without a concrete company culture, and now we can say firsthand that it is absolutely necessary for our team to thrive. We believe it’s so important that we even include it as one of the first points of our Employee Handbook & Culture Code and intentionally discuss it in our professional development regroups. We see the marked difference it creates in our work environment, as it serves as a guiding post for our conduct, conversation, and collaboration.
For more thoughts on some of our core values, see a post about rest here, thoughtful connection here, and integrity here. For posts on running a small business, a raw reflection of small business finances here, hiring a team here. Thanks so much for following along, friends.
to investing in the immeasurable things that matter,