Recently, I met with a bunch of CEOs in a CEO organization I am involved with (Entrepreneurs Organization or EO). Right away when I tell people my company does Talent Acquisition and Human Resources Consulting, I get asked two things: Can you get me the right talent and can you create a great culture for me? I then ask them how many years they have been in business, and it’s truly amazing when I hear the answer of five years or more.

You already have a culture.

When you create a company, you are not only creating a new product or service, but an experience for your employees! Does it have to be perfect from day one? No, but you must know what you want your culture to be like, and, of course, the experience you want your employees to have once they’re on board.

Is creating a culture difficult?

Not really. But you should figure out what you truly value and how you want the employees in your company to act. I am not suggesting to operate like a dictatorship. Instead, create an environment where people really want to work and to entice their friends to join! Make it fun and exciting!

Here are the top three ways to create a great culture:

1. Be transparent

It’s important to just be who you are and live it. We are very fond of our four core values: Curiosity, Execution, Collaboration, and Integrity. We truly live by them so much so that we include them in our quarterly bonus program. I constantly challenge my team to name our core values, and sometimes I even put $20 on the table that goes to the employee who can state the four core values the fastest!

We even made our core values a part of our hiring process! We think it’s important that if we are going to live our core values, the people coming into our company should possess these skills as well. So, we ask a lot of questions, and our potential hires meet a lot of people, but we make it fun and meaningful for them. Keep in mind, even if we don’t hire that person, we want their experience to be memorable, because one day they could become a client of ours, too!

Fun Fact: We ask people that we are interviewing if they own a crockpot! Why? It’s simple. We have so many crockpot lunches, and they have been a huge success within our team. It’s important to let outside people know we have fun and that we also love crockpot cooking!

2. Be human

It’s okay to say you made a mistake – everyone does. The more honest you are with your team, the more honest they will be with you, too.

One day I missed a meeting that my team put together and had scheduled around my availability. Yep – the day got ahead of me, and I was so involved in writing a report that I totally forgot the meeting! My team tried texting me to ask where I was, and as soon as I realized what happened, I immediately sent an apology email and tried to make it funny. I felt it was important to let them know that I was sorry for wasting their valuable time and that I am a goof. I did that to show them that we all make mistakes, what’s important is that we own up to them.

3. Make them feel like a team and have fun

Whenever I address my employees, I refer to them using the word “team”. Over time, I've noticed the employees addressing one another using the word “team”, as well! Remember, even though you are the builder of culture, they, too, want a great place to work (hey, we spend 70% of life at work – make it count!).

We also started putting committees together with several team members making up each committee. We have our social committee, called The Culture Club, our philanthropic group, called The Honor Troop, and our educational group, called TOC-U! They run the committees and put the action points together as a team, and it really creates a sense of purpose, community, and is just plain fun! Who doesn’t love a Luau themed Town Hall?

These committees don’t cost us a lot, but they do create an amazing sense of purpose and value within the company. That’s something you really can’t buy. We enjoy that people come to us seeking to work here, and we love how people talk about our culture.

Last month, I quickly asked our team to each select three words that described us. I loved the results and want to share some with you:

Welcoming, dynamic, results-oriented, partner, knowledgeable, creative, collaborative, rewarding, flexible, responsive, caring, innovative, insightful, honest, effective, trusted, dedicated, team, commitment, curious, supportive, compassionate, intelligent, awesome, amazing, strategic, smart, integrity, curious, execution, and FUN – 5 times!

This team is just awesome! We are so lucky to have them, but it has been a vision of mine from day one. We really wanted to create a place where people were proud to work and be accountable.

So to conclude, Yes, CEO – YOU ARE YOUR Culture and YOU can create any culture you want for your team. Keep in mind, the war for talent isn’t over any time soon and the next generation (Z), is going to be pickier than ever – so create a place that they, and you, will be proud of.

If you don’t know how your team is currently feeling about the company, do a quick employee engagement survey – we have done many for our clients and so many times the CEO is a bit surprised by the comments from their team members. Remember…it’s never too late to make a change!

What would your team say if you did an employee engagement survey? If you are unsure, contact us today to put a plan in place to realign your culture!