Liz Elam, Matt Chasen, Paul O'Brien, Sam Decker and Dean Kakridas brought cocktail hour to a close by pouring decades of combined experience, passion, wisdom and advice into the crowd that had gathered. The take-aways remind us all that when it comes to fostering an inspiring workplace, "the rising tide lifts all boats." Things as simple as offering a genuine smile, enjoying–instead of stifling– the sound of laughter, and injecting positive energy into a room can do more for your office culture than merely buying a video game for the break room. "Your personal mood, for instance, has a big impact on the mood of the members in your space," said Liz.
When culture is hitting on all cylinders, it will inspire those in your company to reach higher and dig deeper. You'll start to see magic unfolding. But, when people aren't tracking with your message or your culture, you'll feel it in your gut. You'll know something's off. Said Sam, "There are “guard rails” that define your culture, but as your business grows and expands, those guard rails also expand. And if someone inside your company is outside the guard rails, then you need to address it."
With both guests and speakers sharing stories and talking, the night produced powerful encouragement for the beginner and advice for those already well along the path to success. Here are a few simple, actionable tips for startups and entrepreneurs:
- Never forget that people set the tone for culture
- Consider whether a potential new hire will fit your culture. If so, promise to give them a great place to get their work done.
- Brand is a reflection of people inside the company, but culture is driven by the founders.
- Let your team be real and act in ways that reflect their unique personalities. And leaders — set the stage for that freedom!
- Hire well, hire well, hire well. This is difficult to do when you grow to more than 150 people, as hiring practices are generally shifted to another person's role within the organization. Still, keep a pulse on who may be joining you and don't underestimate the power of their attitude to inspire or damage the team.
- Leaders: be present and be observant.
- Host lunches and encourage everyone to eat together. Allow for spontaneous interaction. Sam explained that in their new space they created the open kitchen with big tables so that conversation is encouraged.
- It's possible to "over-talk" culture. Everything you do can be attractive –not just culture, but how you market, for example. Be yourself. Be who you are.
What have you learned about great culture that you'd add to our list? Did our Small Talks guests get it right?