January 21, 2017
For a founder, building a company culture takes time and effort away from the day-to-day operations. But in the long run, it can certainly make the day more enjoyable and productive for employees. And a happy employee makes for a happy startup.
The Young Entrepreneurship Council asked Karan Chaudhry, a serial entrepreneur and cofounder of Comnplus and DropThought to share his secrets on how his employees have helped build a sustaining company culture.
What interview question do you always ask potential hires and why?
I ask them what they are passionate about and why. People usually open up when talking about their passions and I strongly believe in open casual conversations rather than a formal interview. It also gives me an inside view on what drives them to evaluate a cultural fit.
What makes your company culture unique?
I think it’s the “we’re in this together” attitude and rewarding the micro-behaviors surrounding it. It starts with having an appreciative environment. Often in startups, people are so busy that they do not spend enough time appreciating colleagues for all the hard work that is put in.
At our company, we compliment folks during daily stand ups. Also, we encourage everyone to always have a solutions mindset. So if they want to discuss a problem, we encourage them to also suggest the possible fixes that might be viable. In a lot of cases, we actually go with their advice, which makes them feel great and increases their ownership of the task and the culture.
How can you make sure team outings or activities appeal as best they can to all employees?
The first thing to realize is that team outings and activities should be about the team and not about you. They need to enjoy it and have fun. Start with giving them options to choose from. Try to accommodate for multiple options if there is a strong split.
For example, we often have a split between a movie night and bowling. Either we combine both or plan two events close to each other to cater to both groups. Also, take feedback during and post event to improve it further. Create an activities channel on Slack and ask people to share photos. It’s amazing how they get discussed for a long time afterwards.
What’s your best tip for keeping a personal touch to on boarding and training as you grow?
Assign a buddy to the incoming employee for the first 30 days. The buddy becomes the go-to person for the employee for all their queries and concerns. It makes a big difference to have someone to navigate you through the systems and processes in the early days. In a lot of cases, the buddy relationship voluntarily stretches beyond that time.
What’s one quick, easy way any company at any stage can invest in their company culture?
Seek employee feedback and act upon the top two or three suggestions to make them own the culture. We actually have an anonymous feedback system and evaluate employee suggestions on a regular basis. Just the fact that they are being heard makes a big difference to the employees. If you actually act on some of their recommendations, it immediately increases their ownership of the culture.
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