What does the word culture mean to you?
You may associate the word ‘culture’ with your local community, or a club you’re in, or even your nationality. You might also consider culture in relation to the generation you’ve been born into. But what about culture in the workplace, and why do people say having a great office culture is essential?
The Cambridge dictionary defines the word as the following: the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people in a specific time.
I have worked in over ten agencies in my career so far, and I must say that each one had its own approaches to culture. Some were okay, some I’m not sure how to describe, and others just lacked one altogether.
Every company has its purpose, cause and beliefs and these usually stem from the top down. If the directors, shareholders or the senior management team simply don’t value their business’s culture, it’s pretty certain that the culture created won’t be one that is good for the company or its employees. But why is this word ‘culture’ so important? And how do you go about creating a vibrant business ethos and culture that employees and clients can genuinely embrace when working with your business? Let’s start with WHY.
Firstly I would say that every single business, from small hairdressers right through to giant corporate banks all need to make sure that they have their company culture at the top of the list of priorities. Is this overdramatic? Not at all. The benefits of having a positive culture are enormous. It takes time to build one, and it can soon fade away if not nurtured and nourished. At Kubix, we even have individuals who will from time to time be called into a culture meeting with the sole purpose of analysing staff morale and what we can do to improve it. As we grow, we may even consider having an individual title for the Head of Culture.
But how do you go about crafting a culture that employees will buy into? It all starts with a company handbook. This handbook may be 10 pages long. It may be 100. But in the company handbook, your beliefs and your company proposition should be highlighted. Below I’ve included a few extracts from ours. To get the full copy, you would need to join our work family. (And we are indeed currently recruiting by the way, so get in touch if you’re interested! Shameless plug over.)
Our ultimate aim and challenge
To be the number one digital marketing company.
This is the most demanding and rewarding challenge that can be imagined within four years. It is based on the inspirational dream of building new and innovative marketing solutions for today, tomorrow and beyond. It’s exciting, stimulating and measurable!
We have to deliver value every day
We must all be passionate about what we do.
Each one of us must energise others to achieve our greatest aim.
I could go on, but I won’t. These aren’t just words on paper – they’re real, we believe them. It’s our cause. It’s even more than that. It’s what we strive for every day as a team when we come to work – to be better than the team we were yesterday. But many people have looked at me as if I’m crazy after I’ve read out our company goals. They always say the same things with the scepticism of:
“Wow – how much money are you going to have to make to get Kubix to the top spot in four years?”
“Really? The biggest marketing company? Isn’t that a bit ambitious?”
Not at all. They don’t interpret it properly. Our handbook says that we want to be the number one digital marketing company. But that can be interpreted as you wish. Number one might mean the biggest for some people. Number one might also mean turning over the highest profits. In my opinion, it means we offer something that cannot be found anywhere else. I can already see things we are doing and feedback from our amazing retained clients that we are on track to achieve this goal.
So if your company already has a clear map of what it believes and what its goals are, then it’s about finding those that believe in precisely that. When I say believe, I genuinely mean it. I’m smiling as I type, because it’s so true. I have seen and experienced this myself over the last two years. My method is simple – seek desire over talent, passion over skill, thirst over experience. Why? Skill will get you the win, yes, however desire and hunger from an individual who wants to be the best at that skill means that when they finally possess the tools and in a company with the right culture they will be untouchable.
This doesn’t mean you can just hire people because they want to be something. They should be able to do the job at hand and certainly be able to fulfil a role from day one. It just means if you have four or five candidates to choose from and it’s a close call, look for the hunger and desire. You’ll be able to spot it from miles off. Kubix has some amazing people, and I’d pretty much say the majority will take their jobs home with them. But not for money, not for the company, but for themselves. Their day-to-day roles are their hobbies as well as their careers. I continuously hear conversations of websites they have been studying, novels being written, changes in the industry, right through to creating a new internal systems which will revolutionise the way we offer what we do.
The one thing about culture is that it can’t be controlled or tamed. Culture isn’t something you can turn on or off. It’s something that naturally flourishes or diminishes. It also stems from your clients and external powers to your business. I have seen clients come to us in the past and you just know they operate on different terms where the concept of ‘culture’ is something you see when you go abroad or meet someone from a different background. They have a ‘work is work’ mentality. We keep our beliefs at the door. We do as we are told and if we don’t, we will see the door. When businesses like this mix with your own carefully-tailored culture, you have to be careful not to let it become diluted. You must, and I mean must, try and find the businesses that are aligned with your own morals and ethics. We have an internal checklist when a new lead approaches us – nothing major, but simple aspects that we look at to determine if they will fit the way in which we do business. If they don’t? We say no. You have to protect what you have, and if someone isn’t going to respect the way you do things, then it is far easier to reject a few potential customers than it is to start building up your company culture from scratch.
To wrap up this up, I’ll finish on a quote that I constantly remind myself of. It’s one Steve Jobs echoed at a speech he made:
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
That’s exactly how I feel we are at Kubix. To sum up our energy and passion – our culture – is impossible, as we don’t even feel it. It’s simply our lives, our work, and one we wish to share with others who want to join a culture that breeds success.