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Culture is Strategy

101 HR Best Practices for Small Business - Practice #2

Defining your company culture is crucial to attracting like-minded employees who fit into that culture. It also helps to set expectations for how you work together and the expectations of everyone working on your team.


Savvy candidates will ask about culture, and if you haven’t given your culture some thought, you probably won’t be effective at responding to those questions.  Your culture can be part of your strategy to attract candidates.  By sharing an overview of your culture with all candidates, you can build their interest in your company and increase their desire to work with you rather than with another employer.


Take time to think carefully about this. Talk to your employees and learn how they would describe their experience and the culture. You want to ensure that you define your culture accurately and that potential candidates have a clear understanding of what it will be like to work on your team.


Try to answer key questions such as

·         What are our values?

·         How risk adverse or risk tolerant are we?

·         How clear is our vision and growth strategy?

·         How clearly do people understand our expectations of them?

·         How do we value employees in this company?

·         How long do employees stay in this company?

·         How creative or innovative is our environment?

·         How do we communicate (and how effectively)?

·         How much autonomy or independence do employees have?

·         Is fun a part of our work experience?  What about work-life balance?

·         How friendly are we and how effectively do we collaborate with our team members?

·         How rules oriented is our environment?

·         How fast paced and/or stressful is our environment?

·         How important is high quality?

·         How important is customer service?

·         What are we most proud of in this company?


And now that you have some idea on how to describe your culture, you can think of ways to shape and improve your culture over time. Not everything about your culture is going to be perfect, and that’s ok, but you may still need to shine a spotlight on it. For example, if you have a fast-paced stressful environment, you may need to work on changing that over time, but for now, you also need to ensure that potential candidates understand that aspect of your environment before they join your team, otherwise, they may not stay very long if that isn’t a fit for them.


And finally, if your current employees have not had input into defining your culture or if they don’t buy-in to the cultural description, it probably isn’t accurate and you still have some work to do.


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