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It’s Okay…Drink the Kool-Aid!

Kool-AidFor a long time now, I've felt that the phrase "Drink the Kool-Aid" didn't deserve the bad rap that it typically gets.  For me, it has lost its original negative meaning, and actually has the power to communicate positive values and help establish a company culture that is mutually rewarding for everyone in an organization.

Culture is something that is born out of a strong will to succeed and the ability to align yourself with extremely passionate people who share the same vision.  You have to work at it constantly and keep evolving it over time.  Strong cultures don’t just manufacture themselves, so it's important to treat culture with the same importance as having a business plan, creating a product and building a successful company. 

I learned a lot about building a good company culture from my co-founder and friend Frank Addante, who recently outlined his keys to success for Inc. Magazine.  In addition to founding email service provider StrongView with me back in 2002, Frank has had great success over the years and built many awesome teams.  As I was reading his article, I began thinking of the common rules that I live for building healthy company cultures.

  1. Always hire “hand-raisers.”  These are the folks who crave responsibility and always look for ways to help others.  Give people like this the appropriate accountability and guidance, and you will witness great things.
  2. Make sure your goals are aligned.  Again, right or wrong, it's critical that people on your team know the vision, the role they play in that overall vision, what they are supposed to do and how it fits into the goals of the business. 
  3. Treat culture like a job.  Let's face it…IT IS!  It is important to stress the values of the company and lead by example every day (not just when it's convenient to do so). 
  4. Be accountable.  It’s not always going to be perfect, and it is important to understand that mistakes are part of growing.  Own up to them and learn from them.  I have certainly learned a lot of “what not to do” things with my time at StrongView, but those to me are just as valuable (if not more).
  5. Ask questions.  It’s often the simplest thing that is overlooked.  Many times we get caught up in the daily grind, and we think that a lack of knowledge is viewed as failure.  If you aren’t sure, ask.  Learning is a beautiful bi-product.

Remember, it’s only a job.  Work is a normal function of life and an inescapable reality, but as I tell people at StrongView, if you make it as fun as possible, it doesn't have to feel like work.   

You will find that creating a healthy company culture pays great dividends and creates a great sense of pride and satisfaction (not to mentions it's an excellent recruiting tool).   So I say create a culture that your employees will embrace and let the sugary stuff flow throughout the organization and watch the success roll in!  OH YEAHHH!  (Sorry, I couldn't resist, and hope I am not violating copyright laws!) :-)

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Posted by: Tim McQuillen at 10:13 AM
Categories: Business Advice, Company Culture

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