A strong company culture is foundational to strong revenue growth—and probably to any other positive business outcome you want. Yes, you have to take care of customers. Yes, you have to provide a quality product or service. But the people behind it all are the ones creating the magic.
Your culture should empower your people to do and be their best. And it should be a priority—better performance and happier employees lead to stronger revenue. It’s just good business.
We’ve been fortunate to have a great run at Text Request, and things are getting better every month. There’s always luck involved, but we’re here to talk about the intentional work driving that progress. That’s what’s helped our multigenerational team earn multiple distinctions on Best Places to Work lists and to be ranked on multiple Fastest Growing Companies in America lists.
This is the framework we’ve used to get here.
1. Do it on purpose.
Culture is the one thing in a company you create without meaning to. Once we realized this, we decided to intentionally and consistently shape our culture around our core beliefs, the management style of our founding partners and myself, and how we think people ought to be treated.
We were not over-the-top about it. We still aren’t. There’s no quarterly kickoff where we get up on stage and talk about our core beliefs. It’s more subtle than that, and more effective. Many of our core beliefs are shared below. They are ingrained into our conversations and decision-making. They help guide us each step of the way.
It’s much easier to build and reiterate a strong company culture from the outset. But if you’re looking around at a culture you want to fix, it’s not too late. It will simply take getting the wrong people off the bus, the right people on the bus, and a commitment from leadership to act and invest in a way that will create the culture you want.
2. Work needs to be the focus.
It’s a company culture, a work culture. You are all there to move a business toward its goals. Compensation, time for rest and office perks are all important, but the theme of any company culture is how you work together to get the job done.
Put a premium on shared values when hiring. Give people all the tools they need to do their jobs well—technology, office supplies, time and resources, respect and anything else that will help them excel.
Be wary of throwing parties or giving bonuses as band-aid solutions to culture problems. Those are helpful. People want them. But focus on improving how work gets done. How are goals and updates communicated? How are projects managed? How well do people listen? Is each person putting in the expected time and effort?
Improving these factors tends to be more effective.
3. Treat people how you want to be treated.
It’s called The Golden Rule for a reason. There are times when one person or a group would like to be treated differently from the next, and that should be communicated. It may even work in your favor to do so. But the default is empathy. If you were in that person’s situation (or role), how would you want to be treated, compensated and communicated with? Behave like that.
This is something that just makes sense to our founders. It flows through our interactions with direct reports, and on down the line. When in doubt, treat others how you’d like to be treated.
4. Let people do their jobs.
You hire people to do a job. Micromanaging helps no one. You should be good enough at hiring and training so that they can do their job brilliantly. You should be trusting enough to let them make decisions when even you don’t know the best answer.
You should be self-aware enough to know when you have a good opinion, and when you don’t have the experience to back it up. You should have enough on your own plate that those small details aren’t important to you, anyway.
Autonomy has been one of our key traits at Text Request. We hire good people, show them how to do the job we need done, and let them take it from there. We offer feedback when needed, and allow changes to be made as they see best.
The sense of agency this creates enables employees to do better work and feel better about it. That carries over into treating customers and other employees better, and ultimately into growing our company revenue.
5. Find times to celebrate.
The single best thing we’ve done for our culture and business growth has been to celebrate small victories.
It’s rare that a big victory happens—you launch a new product line, bring on a gazillion-dollar customer or make that key hire. But small victories happen all the time, if you look. A customer gives a good review, a project reaches a checkpoint, you upgrade an account and so on.
Celebrating small victories, even if it’s through a Slack channel or group text, creates momentum and excitement, both of which are understated advantages. Marketing and sales funnel thrive on momentum. It leads to more and better work done by people excited to be part of your shared mission. It snowballs from there.
6. Bring people together.
You need great working relationships to move your business forward, and you need to create opportunities to strengthen those relationships. Annual kick-offs, quarterly team outings, catered lunches, lobbies and co-working spaces, virtual 1:1s, miscellaneous Slack threads and even meetings (if they shouldn’t have just been an email instead) can all help you strengthen those relationships.
Just don’t force it. Create space for people to interact, and let the rest happen organically. Some won’t take advantage of it, but most will, and it will pay off.
7. Cast a clear vision.
You’re all there to work toward the same goal. Make sure everyone knows what that goal is.
Consistently reiterate it. Measure progress toward it. Welcome feedback on how to get there better, faster, stronger. By the time you think you’re being repetitive, the rest of your team is beginning to internalize it. Keep going.
Easier said than done.
If you’ve worked on building your company culture before, you know how challenging some of these concepts can be to put into practice (and keep them). Culture building is more art than science, but when in doubt, ask one question: “How does this decision affect our team?”
That ought to put you on the right path.