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12 Fresh Ideas for Changing Your Startup Company Culture

Posted by Early Growth

July 23, 2013    |     5-minute read (938 words)

Originally published in Upmarket.

What is ONE thing you did in your company that had the biggest impact on culture?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

1. Helped Our Staff Find Their Voice

Once people have been with us for around two years, we let them create their own roles within the company. They know our clients well, and they know what they love about the work they do, so we invite them to dream bigger, supporting them in building out that aspect of the company and their role. This creates a culture where we not only serve the dreams of our clients, but also our staff.

- Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

2. Created a Culture of Accountability

We created a culture where what matters is deliverables and making sure that deadlines are met. When and where work is done is unimportant, as long as it is done. This approach to work created a culture of accountability and independence, which has enabled me to hire and retain top talent who have served our clients well.

- David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

3. Got a Keg

We recently moved into a new office, and one of our new toys is a ‘kegerator.’ Sometimes a change of scenery or situation can have a huge effect, and, although it may sound silly, the existence of beer on tap encourages our team to sit down together and take a break. - Lauren Friese, TalentEgg

4. Gathered for Virtual Happy Hours

I work with a virtual team, and gathering together on Google+ Hangouts for “happy hours” once every few months helped build the social lubrication that you miss out on by not sharing a physical office. We grab a drink, talk about life outside of work and always wear silly costumes.

- Molly Mahar, Stratejoy

5. Started Culture Week

We’ve found that culture has to be deliberate. As such, we started Culture Week–every week, someone on the team is in charge of culture. People have planned Valentine’s Day parties, Iron Chef-esque cookoffs, brewery tours, trips to museums, and more during their culture weeks. It means that there’s always something fun to look forward to!

- Kit Hickey, Ministry of Supply

6. Gave Our New Hires Free iPhones

We give all of our new hires new cell phones and pay the bills every month. We consider it part of our benefits package. Doing this ensures that all of our employees communicate in the same fashion and leverage the necessary mobile apps and tools that help us run our business. Of course, we also have some fun with our phones by facilitating the occasional gaming contest.

- Logan Lenz, Endagon

7. Scheduled a Morning Meeting

Every morning, we have a meeting in which everyone answers what they’re most excited to do today, along with a silly question we come up with. It’s a chance to share a little bit about what we’re working on, as well as a little bit about ourselves–and it has become a key staple to every day at Greatist.

- Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

8. Fired Myself

I went away on vacation and read Michael Gerber’s ‘The E-Myth.’ After I returned, I started firing myself from jobs and allowing others to take the reigns. By allowing others to take my vision and run with it, the company played into everyone’s strengths on the team and deepened the overall culture.

- Eric Holtzclaw, Laddering Works

9. Established a No-Drama Policy

Work isn’t life, and it’s the last place where people want to go to get caught up in drama outside their personal lives. In the salon business, drama and gossip are rife, so we simply made instigating it a fireable offense. The result is a chain of salons without any drama, and an employee base that sticks around because they hate working at all of those drama factories.

- Michael Portman, Birds Barbershop

10. Implemented Efficient and Focused Meetings

We have more focused meetings with different divisions of our company, and then a large meeting on Wednesday. They are only a half hour long, and we are able to discuss issues that have come up during the week that need to be addressed, or ideas for different parts of our website. We are able to connect our engineering and our customer service more efficiently.

- Jordan Fliegel, CoachUp, Inc.

11. Emphasized Public Recognition

Public recognition beats all other types of rewards. Encouraging public recognition by awards, shout-outs, and emphasis in meetings identifies the behaviors you want so you are incentivizing and memorializing them.

- Trevor Sumner, LocalVox

12. Hired for Culture

While it may seem obvious, if you’re trying to cook a dish with the wrong ingredients, it won’t turn out the way you want. We didn’t put enough focus on people’s values and motivators when hiring, and culture just didn’t happen. We learned to define our values, asked candidates to share theirs, and then looked for a fit. Two-thirds of our interview process now focuses on culture fit.

- Shradha Agarwal, ContextMedia

What have you done that has had a positive impact on your company culture? Tell us about it in



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