teamwork

Creating a positive and productive company culture should be the goal of any CEO. But it’s easier said than done. Challenges arise in getting the right mix of people with the right personalities and the right work ethic.

Here are a few tips in finding that balance, and providing a successful place of business where employees can thrive.

It starts with hiring.

Bringing in the right people is the logical first step to building a great company culture. Consider the desired environment when interviewing candidates. Amy Power writes about this for entrepreneur.com.

When facing a hiring decision, resist the need to plunk bodies in chairs,” she writes. “Great culture leaves room for people to further their careers and help one another along the way. Ask whether candidates are trainable, helpful team players. Some assets such as great personality, trustworthiness, and integrity simply can’t be taught. Most important, is the job candidate likable? If the person has a stellar resume but is repugnant, walk away. Ask the team’s opinion when hiring. Have the group take the candidate out to lunch to see how he or she behaves outside the office and whether members of the team enjoy being around them.”

Don’t avoid water cooler talk.

A positive company culture is often the kind where employees don’t feel the need to snap to attention every time the CEO walks by. Engaging the staff in small talk may help the staff relate to the boss. AJ Agrawal, CEO of Alumnify, writes about this for inc.com.

If you walk by our office, there’s a good chance you’ll see a group of us laughing about something other than work,” he says. “As the leader, I try to encourage these moments as much as possible. It’s a mistake to think that people work best when they sit in silence. Humans are designed to be social creatures. It’s how our ancestors survived and thrived. To try and build a company culture that prevents these interactions is counterproductive. More importantly, it’s against our nature. Next time you see members of your team talking about things other than work, don’t see this as a waste of time. Instead, see this as essential for building unity among your members.”

Develop trust.

It may be hard for some business leaders to develop, but trust is a major key to achieving the desired company culture. It’s not something that can be instantly earned, but the connection will lay the foundation for progress, as Power writes in her entrepreneur.com piece.

So many bosses worry about being taken advantage of, but treating employees like servants or prisoners doesn’t track,” she says. “When people know they are trusted, they feel personally responsible. Trust is one of the most important elements of a company’s culture; when employees’ honor is validated, the message is sent that they are entirely valued. When employees don’t feel like the boss is looking over their shoulder all the time, they are comfortable to do their best work. Trust encourages the most incredible brainstorms, which can lead to groundbreaking ideas.”

Serve as your team’s protector.

When employees know that you have their back, they’ll feel more comfortable and confident in their work. That doesn’t mean a CEO should act like an overbearing parent, just someone who puts his or her employees first, as Agrawal writes in his inc.com story.

When the leader makes personal sacrifices for the team, the team in turn makes sacrifices for the organization,” he says. “Being selfless is contagious. This is why personal acts of sacrifice inspire us and encourage us to do the same. To build a company culture that focuses on the whole rather than the parts, start to act like you’re the guardian of your employees. Make sure you eat last, do the things no one wants to do, and dive into trouble headfirst. When your team sees this, they will buy into the mission. …It allows you to develop a culture that your competition would die for.”