At this point in time, you’ve probably heard about how important company culture is. And while there are numerous studies about how culture positively impacts everything from team member productivity to revenue, many companies struggle to get everyone on board. We all realize that culture is important, but the reality is that most of us struggle to build that culture.
So how do you get your team members to buy into company culture? It took us years to create the culture we have at One Click. Whether you’ve been struggling with culture for a while, or you want to instill a new type of culture in your company, here are a few steps that we’ve found helpful through the process. And trust me, it is a process.
First, take a good, hard look at yourself
At One Click, we wanted our culture to emanate from who we are at the most simple, understandable level. Sure, you could look at your business and think, “we want to be the most innovative company in our field.” That sounds nice, but that means you actually have to be the most innovative company in your field.
You will also want to think about creating a framework for who your company is at its core, and how you’ll make decisions. We call these our “core values”. From “spread happiness beyond our four walls” to “never settle” and “people matter most,” our core values set the standard for how our team members work, make decisions, and treat one another.
My point? Be honest. Truly look at yourself and your company to see what makes you different, and understand what makes you tick. For us, it’s that we’re extremely focused on our people. We put people first, whether that’s our team members, community, or customers.
Your mission statement should be easily understood by all of your team members. Getting everyone to buy in to your mission becomes a lot easier when people can actually remember what it is! At One Click, our mission statement is “to build the world’s most people-focused eyewear company.” Short. Sweet. To the point.
Having a strong mission statement sets expectations for your company, and helps bond team members around a common goal. The mission statement must also be relatable to your team members — something that is easily digested. Resist the urge to fluff your statement with important sounding words. It’s better to simplify your mission statement with one clear purpose, versus a vague statement that is open to interpretation.
Walk the walk, talk the talk
Once you establish who you are with your mission statement, live up to it. Yes, this means that you’re going to have to spend money and time on culture.
To build the world’s most people-focused eyewear company, we have to be committed to putting people first. In regards to our customers, we write hand-written thank you cards to new customers, and are currently in the process of surprising them with a “welcome kit” consisting of a glasses case and microfiber cleaning cloth. We have an incredibly dedicated Customer Happiness Team that will never be automated, outsourced, or put in a different building than the rest of our company. When a customer calls us with questions, we make sure they talk to a human, not a robot.
Additionally, we’re focused on our team members and community. Each year we give everyone in the company 2 PTO days dedicated to community service. On top of numerous other team member benefits (Bagel Wednesday may or may not be a company-wide favorite), we have a long-term partnership with Timmy Global Health to help improve lives across Latin America.
You also need to remember that it starts from the top. As a leader in the company, you need to be a strong advocate for the culture you want to see. If the leaders in your business don’t buy into the culture, chances are that your team members won’t either.
Not only does One Click invest in team members through professional development programs, involvement in the Orr Fellowship, and comprehensive internships, but as a leader in the company I make sure to volunteer my time to mentor young professionals or to talk at local colleges.
Bottom line: if you want your team members to buy into your culture, you have to prove to them that you are who you say you are. This ultimately means that you’ll have to budget costs and time. At One Click, we have a Culture Team who consistently schedules company-wide events every quarter, and we budget lines for team perks, professional development, and team happiness money each year.
Constantly work at it, Hire the right people
I know I’ve already mentioned that all of these points are important. They are. But this might be the most important (I promise).
You have to constantly be working on your culture to get team members to buy in. When culture starts to slip due to things like a bad quarter of revenue, it can get away from you very, very quickly. And many times, as a leader in the company, you might not even realize it’s slipping at first. Which is why you need to hire the right people.
You have to have people on your team that align with your mission statement and your core values. Even if someone extremely talented walks through your doors looking for a job, but this person doesn’t identify with who you are as a company, it’s probably not going to be a good fit. Plus, those who do identify with your values will be culture advocates for you, even when your company hits roadblocks.
Although culture is hard, culture is also extremely rewarding! It takes time, effort, and money but in the long run, culture is what helps team members stay motivated and engaged. Be true to your company, implement tangible programs, walk the walk, and hire the right people if you truly want team members to buy into your company culture.
Angie Stocklin is Co-Founder and COO at One Click.