How to build the startup's internal culture

Entrepreneurship is more than the ability to run a business, it is also very much about leading people and teams that revolve around similar values. As you could see in the previous material, shared values are what fuel the motivation and engagement of the people in a team.

From your role as a founder, you will also have to pay attention to these things. But let's start at the beginning - what is a leader? "A leader is someone who is capable of dreaming about realities that are yet to exist. They can gather around them people who believe in their vision and who want to go in the direction set by them or by the group," says Magor Csibi.   

3 principles of human relations relevant to entrepreneurs in particular   

  • Make the other person feel important, as sincerely as possible. A leader, an entrepreneur is someone who has lots of ambition and is very eager to do things. Very often, this also means the pleasure of being in the spotlight. A good leader is someone who manages to share this light with others, to make them feel important, to bring them in the spotlight too.  

  • Ask questions rather than give orders. A good leader is someone who surrounds themselves with people who have qualities that they lack, who know how to do things that they don’t really know how to do. They know how to motivate them by asking them questions, not by giving them precise instructions, that micro-management that many leaders find it difficult to let go of.  

  • They respect others’ opinions and never tell them "you're not right". The hardest thing to do is to put this principle into practice when the other person says something different from what we think. But we're going to talk about a communication technique that will allow us to do just that.  

>> See the course How to be leader 

Goals versus behaviors  

Every company has a vision (broken down into mission, strategy, objectives and then tasks for every team member) - this helps to achieve results. If the vision and its elements are very well defined, but the results are not achieved, then the behaviors inside the company must be identified, because most likely there are discrepancies between these elements.  

In parallel with the mission & objectives of the company, values must always be taken into account - as they determine our beliefs, which in turn generate habits. And habits then generate behaviors. That's why leaders need to be constantly connected to the company's internal ecosystem.    

When an employee's personal values are inconsistent with the organization's values, performance is negatively impacted (and the respective employee will more likely leave the company). That is why, more than ever, in the current situation, people need to have their values, beliefs, behavioral norms reconfirmed by the leaders they follow.  

What are the aspects you have to take into account in your company?  

There are 3 areas you have to focus your attention on: 

  • structures (flows, work rules) 

  • culture (usual behaviors and attitudes) 

  • vision (future of the company) 

In crisis situations, they suffer:  

  • the structures are affected (work flows and rules change)  

  • the culture is outdated (usual behaviors and attitudes are suddenly outdated)  

  • the vision is blurry (uncertain future)   

What are the first steps to take to better manage the 3 aspects above?  

In this context, there are some questions you should start with:  

  • What can we do to reimagine the vision?  

  • How can we reshape the culture?  

  • How do we "reset" our culture?  

This exercise is not valid only in times of crisis, but it includes elements that a leader should revisit periodically, to see if the vision they proposed is still valid or not.    

The new vision and the new culture must be communicated and "translated” at culture level. We can no longer communicate as we did before the pandemic, especially since most interactions moved online, and this is much more demanding for the interlocutors.  

What should the priorities be? Caring for people should be a priority now, and leaders should empower their team (instead of controlling and micromanaging them) and be authentic with them. At personal level, your number one priority should be your own well-being (emotional and physical), then the well-being of those close to you, and only then should you worry about the results.   

Adapting the leadership style and organizational culture to the new reality  

Once with the new ways of working imposed by the safety measures taken to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, the way we manage (ourselves and our teams) has also changed, and the practices used to build our organizational culture must also adapt.  

The crisis we are currently going through is a systemic one, felt by most of the people, organizations and companies around us. The adaptation process will require a lot of flexibility, on the one hand, and leaders to facilitate it, on the other hand.  

Where do you start to get an overview of your company?   

Analyze all the things that affect your business as a whole - including those that were causing problems before the crisis started. Here are some questions to start with:  

  • What factors have affected your culture, structure and results? Are they caused solely by the crisis or factors that the current situation has only aggravated?   

  • Are there conversations you are avoiding at this point?   

  • What would a recovery look like?   

  • What do we need to "clean up" (processes and habits that we didn't really need) and rebuild?   

  • What unpleasant messages and uncomfortable efforts are important now?   

  • How do we build strength and resilience?   

Newsletter-ul Startarium. Citește sinteza lunară direct pe e-mail