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Taming the Culture Dragon: How to Build and Maintain a Strong Company Culture

Let’s face it, every startup has battled a beast – the dreaded Culture Dragon. This mythical threat can change from a harmless annoyance (think disinterested workers) to a full-on nightmare (think high turnover and teams that don’t work together). But fear not, brave entrepreneurs –  this scaly symbol of your company culture can be tamed, trained, and even become your most loyal ally.

We had one such brave entrepreneur on the How to Web Conference stage, who inspired us with her view on company culture and gave us a few insights on taming the dragon. Mada Seghete, former Co-Founder and VP of Marketing & Market Development at Branch dived deep into “The Culture Playbook: Defining and scaling culture” and, inspired by the SF books she’s usually reading, she compared company culture to a dragon.

How to tame it and build a strong company culture, here are a few tips from Mada:

🪺 Hatching Your Dragon: Unearthing Your Core Values

Every magnificent dragon needs a foundation, a bedrock of beliefs that shapes its every move. For your Culture Dragon, this foundation is your company’s core values.  These aren’t just fancy wall art – they’re the unwavering principles that guide your decisions and actions, like a moral compass for your entire team. Think of companies like Zappos with their happiness obsession or GitHub’s focus on open collaboration. These core values become the DNA of your organization, influencing everything from hiring to strategy.

But here’s the thing: hatching a dragon egg takes time and a sprinkle of flexibility. Unlike Daenerys Targaryen’s fire-breathing companions, your company’s values might need some tweaking as you grow. Remember what Mada Seghete from our conference said? Branch iterated on their values as they scaled. Maybe you initially valued “hustle” above all else, but as your team expanded, “work-life balance” became a bigger priority. Embrace this evolution –  it’s a sign of a healthy, growing Culture Dragon.

🧚‍♀️ Raising Your Dragon: Hiring for Cultural Fit

Not just anyone can ride a dragon. Imagine trying to mount a majestic creature who sees you as a pesky fly –  disaster is guaranteed.  Similarly, hiring people who clash with your company culture is a recipe for chaos. Here’s the truth bomb: cultural fit is just as important as skills.

Think of your ideal employee – someone who embodies your core values. Maybe they’re a “rockstar developer” who also brings a dash of humility and a collaborative spirit to the table.  During the interview process, go beyond the resume and seek these cultural gems. Consider using “value interviews” –  targeted conversations designed to assess cultural alignment.  Imagine asking questions like, “How would you navigate a situation where a teammate’s approach clashes with yours?” These can reveal a candidate’s ability to thrive within your unique cultural framework.

🐉 Training Your Dragon: Onboarding and Reinforcement

A young dragon wouldn’t know how to breathe fire, let alone protect its rider. The same goes for new hires. A well-designed onboarding program is your dragon-riding school, immersing them in your company culture. These elements aren’t just office fluff – they help new hires understand your company’s history, values, and the fire that burns bright at its core.

But onboarding is just the first flight lesson. Continuously reinforce your culture through fun recognition programs that celebrate employees who embody your values.  Establish clear promotion criteria that consider cultural fit alongside skills. Transparency is key too – foster open communication about failures (check out Mada’s story about naming conference rooms after past mistakes). This normalizes failure and encourages risk-taking, which can fuel innovation (think of it as adding lighter fluid to your dragon’s fiery breath!).

Remember, building a strong company culture is an ongoing quest. By following these steps, you can transform your Culture Dragon from a chaotic creature into a fire-breathing champion, propelling your company toward legendary success.

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For a more in-depth exploration of the company culture playbook, dive into the full conference video.

Join us at the  How to Web Conference 2024 to discover fresh perspectives on driving growth. We can experiment together  –  join the movement: https://www.howtoweb.co/tickets/

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