Every organization has its own characteristics and a unique personality. The people associated (to begin with the Founding team) with the organization define the culture. Values, principles, and ethos outline the tone of the long-term aspirations of the company and the path to accomplish the same. Culture is an imperative factor which differentiates a successful company from other average companies. It runs like a blood in an organization and has a profound impact on the way you build your venture.
The culture of a company is an extension of the founding team members. It reflects how they carry themselves, how they deal with others, and how open they are to feedback and criticism. During the nascent stages of a venture, absence of proper structure makes it all the more important to define the culture- indeed as important as a product/service.
There are various elements that define a culture in an organization. The entrepreneur/the Founding team members need to imbibe as well as demonstrate these during the journey.
1) Flexibility v/s Discipline: Innovation is an important parameter for the growth of an organization. Start-ups should promote the culture of innovation and give flexibility to the team for discovery and experimentation. But, there has to be a discipline to finish the tasks on hand in a timely manner. Maintaining a correct balance between flexibility and discipline is a vital part of the right culture.
2) Rewards and Appreciation: Start-Ups don’t always fulfill the financial aspirations of individuals. Given this, intangible rewards can often satisfy team members. It is important to reward at an individual as well as team level. But, there can’t be a single yardstick for everyone. Hence, the reward system should be designed according to the needs of every individual – at least in the early stages.
3) Feedback: Nascent ventures have a young team with a lot of promising and fresh talent. This team is bound to make mistakes -to err is human! Leadership qualities of the Founding team reflect the way they respond to these situations. It is necessary to give feedback, but it is equally important to keep the talent motivated.
4) 360° Feedback: Learning is always a two-way process. Founders also need to learn from their team members. It is also important for the Founding team members to receive feedback and correct themselves when required – without any apprehensions.
5) Code of Conduct: This is the most important aspect of an organizational culture. The ethics and principles of the Founding team members will define the organization’s ethics and principles. Their personal conduct is going to define the conduct of the entire organization – humans are after all like apes! They will follow the leader.
The onus of setting the right culture in an organization is always on the Founding team members/entrepreneur. The culture of a venture is primarily their footprints.