Organizational culture is such an oft repeated buzzword in corporate circles that it has become one of those overused stereotypes that lose the superlative weight they carry with every casual mention. However, culture is the only one thing that manages to keep me tossing and turning upon at every stage of my startup journey.
A startup is like a seed. It encapsulates within it the potential to grow into something much bigger than itself and in the process nourish the ones that tend to it every day. If it’s not planted in the right environment from the get go, it will not reach fruition no matter how much you water it.
What soil and sunlight are to a seed, trust and collaboration are to a startup.
Culture Flows Top Down
As founders, we worry about the productivity of our startup on a daily basis. When every day is measured in cash burn, the pressure is high to deliver that much faster. While chasing a new goal post every few months, it is not difficult to lose sight of the softer sides of running a company.
I cannot emphasize the importance of human capital enough. Employees have the strength to either make or break a startup, but it is only up to the founders to lead them in the right direction, especially in the formative years.
Transparency is the Cornerstone of Trust
A startup is much less like a corporate and more like a family. Long hours, numerous brainstorming sessions and overlapping of functions generate a certain level of intimacy between employees that is not found in long established enterprises. We depend on each other more and therefore need to be able to count on each other more.
The single biggest requisite in startup environment is thus, trust. An unquestionable belief that every member of the organization believes in and is working towards the common good. And to establish such trust, complete transparency in all matters is the supreme responsibility of the founder.
Company Culture Affects Everything
What we are trying to achieve by paying as much importance to culture as we do to our balance sheet is beyond quantifiable measure. Every aspect of our behaviour, from simpler things like the Gifts Policy of a company to graver issues like employee layoffs need to be handled with the same level of sincerity and integrity.
Because when it comes to building companies, it pays to remind ourselves that culture is just like the ether that has the capability to transport sound and light waves to vast distances, and yet remain invisible. It seeps into every nook and crevice of the organization and transforms it from within.
So before you commence your much awaited next big project, set aside a minute to think about what you would be doing in the coming year to contribute more to a flourishing culture.
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