We’ve all heard the glossy stories of companies that are celebrated for their impressive company culture. But here’s a well-kept secret: some of the best cultures can be found in places that you may have never heard of.
These lesser-known startups aren’t focusing on their culture for the viral success story. They simply know who they are and they build around what they value.
Since every company has unique Core Values, there’s no one right way to foster identity. Which means that external validation is a pretty meaningless barometer for creating the environment that your people can thrive in. A far better indicator is what your employees say about working there.
In fact, you can find the answer in the very words your employees use.
I recently spoke with several engaged employees who described what it’s like to work at their company. This is what it sounds like when you’re part of a culture with a lot of constructive and creative energy:
“There’s space for everyone to have a voice.”
“Everyone is true to themselves and the work we’re doing.”
“We can rely on and understand each other.”
“I’m emotionally attached to this business.”
“I’ve been in the trenches with this company and this company has been in the trenches with me.”
“I can be who I am; I don’t need to be a character.”
“I have the freedom to try new things, be creative; I’m encouraged to ‘be more me.’”
“This company has taught me that you can actually not burn out at a job- not feel like your entire life is being sucked out of you.”
When people are respected and accepted, they focus on their work, rather than worrying about how others will react. They’re curious and love learning new things. They share their opinions. They act intentionally and seek outcomes where all win.
As a result, the team has a broad and rich understanding about their priorities. And people tend to feel deeply connected to their work and their company.
To better understand your team’s engagement, listen to the words they use. Get the conversation started by meeting with each of your employees and asking them thoughtful, open-ended questions. You’ll quickly learn what does versus doesn’t matter to your people and your culture.