How to create company culture without the bean bag chairs.

Culture is not the mission statement on your website or even the values laid out in your employee handbook. No, rather, culture is what you do on an everyday basis, what you say, how you act, how you interact, your product/service, your customers, and yourself. It’s integrated into everything you do but how do you create a strong, fun culture that attracts talent?

You can buy bean bags, pool tables, have a “rad” break room but one thing holds true, you will never mirror Apple’s culture. Why? Well, you are not Steve Jobs or Tim Cook. You cannot mirror Facebook’s culture because you are not Mark Zuckerberg. See where I’m going?

It starts at the top.

Culture starts and ends with the senior leader of the company. It’s shaped by how the company leader acts. The leader must both internally and externally reflect the company’s values and be the leading voice of the company. The leader must embody everything the company wants people to see them as. Leaders who showcase an incredible passion for what they do and have a tenacious work ethic will more than likely be the source of inspiration for employees and for outsiders trying to find a way into the company. You must lead by example and be incredibly transparent in the process. Just because you think you have a great culture doesn’t mean shit in the long run if your employees don’t trust you.

So now that you understand where culture begins and ends, what next?

Your people.

Treat them right.

While culture starts at the top, you must allow room for employees to contribute to the culture for it be real and long lasting. If you are not treating your employees well, the culture you are trying to create is all for nothing if you have a high turnover rate. Even when hiring new employees, rather than spend time drooling over an impressive resume; devote majority of your time into screening their character. You can have a great resume but if your character doesn’t fit the culture, you will not be good fit for the company.

However, when you get the right people, treat them right. When you find someone with the right cultural fit, it is your duty to develop him or her and help that person scale in the company.

Identify Key Players

These are the people that eat, live, and breathe your culture and help others in the company understand who you are and what you stand for. When you are absent, the key player(s) are your voice. Once you have identified these people, it is crucial to your culture and success that you sit down with them and figure out what they do and do not like about the current culture of the company and what, if any, changes should be made. The value of these people does not diminish as time goes on but rather, exponentially increases as the years go on. Thus increasing your competitive advantage.