Ben Smit is the Co-Founder and CEO of Teamgage, a software platform that enables team collaboration, wellbeing, and continuous improvement, which serves clients across Australia, the Asia-Pacific, and the US.
Ben and Mike Scott, CEO of Nona, both share a passion for creating awesome work environments and even better team cultures, which is what they discuss on the How to Be Moderately Successful podcast. Keep reading for their tips on how to cultivate culture in your own business!
3 ways to maintain company culture
Combine culture and strategy
According to Ben, the first place where companies tend to fail at sustaining a good team culture is when they keep culture and the business strategy disconnected. You can’t treat culture as something separate for the HR department to handle while you carry on with the business.
“A classic example,” illustrates Ben, “is the company that has looking after the customer as a value on the wall, but then all the KPIs are money-driven and therefore people end up doing dodgy deals because they need to hit targets… that value of looking after the customer is always going to take second fiddle.”
For Teamgage, their culture is synonymous with their strategy, and it’s something they practise every day.
Repeat your values
“Values are often over spoken about and under implemented,” Mike points out. “It’s not enough to write integrity, honesty, and some other very cliché word and stick it up on the boardroom wall.”
What Mike learned through his years of leadership is that you have to constantly interrogate those values. Are they correct? Does the team understand them? “Every quarter at our quarterly offsite – we’ve been going for nine years – every quarter we still interrogate our values,” says Mike. Once you’re sure of your values, you repeat them ad nauseam.
Which is exactly what Mike does at Nona. Mike believes that it is critical to repeat company values often and shares that it can be really awkward at the beginning. Eventually though, after many repetitions and even some eye rolling, suddenly people actually hear them ‘for the first time’ and then the magic happens.
Recruit the right people
If you want to maintain a great team culture in your business, you need to recruit the right people. They need to have the experience and technical skills needed for the job, but they also need to have the right qualities to fit in with your culture.
Ben assesses this in the interview by asking particular questions. He avoids asking the standard hypothetical questions like What would you do if a customer had this problem?, because the interviewee may give what sounds like the right solution, but it gives nothing away about who they are as a person.
“If you ask questions that take a deep dive into their personal history, you get much better answers,” Ben explains. “So at your last job, tell us about a time where the customer had an issue and what did you do to solve it? Those questions are really, really insightful about how they behaved in those previous roles.”
Creating and maintaining a cohesive company culture starts with you as a leader. It’s up to you to implement those daily stand-ups and quarterly check-ins, and make sure that everyone on your team is on the same page.