You have established your small business, chosen superstar employees and are well on your way to success. People have chosen to work at your company for a variety of reasons, but one of their primary motivations is likely the small company feel — they believe they can really make a difference. Probably, working at your company is more than just a job to them, but rather something to which they are committed.

In addition, yours and their dreams are big you both want the company to grow and succeed. But how can you ensure that you keep that small company feel that you and your employees cherish while still growing?

Culture can be a particularly important consideration for small businesses. A healthy company culture may increase employees’ commitment and productivity, while an unhealthy culture may inhibit a company’s growth or even contribute to business failure. In a healthy culture, employees view themselves as part of a team and gain satisfaction from helping the overall company succeed. When employees sense that they are contributing to a successful group effort, their level of commitment and productivity, and thus the quality of the company’s products or services, are likely to improve.

In contrast, problems with the corporate culture can play a major role in small business failures. Employees in an unhealthy culture tend to view themselves as individuals, distinct from the company, and focus upon their own needs. They only perform the most basic requirements of their jobs, and their main and perhaps only motivation is their paycheck. Some warning signs of a failing company culture particularly in the small business realm include increased turnover, a lack of honest communication and understanding of the company mission and declining quality and customer satisfaction, to name a few.

Company Culture Guidelines

Since every company is different, there are many ways to create and keep a culture that works, even while you’re growing. Following are several main principles that small business owners should consider in order to develop a healthy corporate culture that lasts despite your current business phase.

Prevailing corporate culture begins at the top. Explain your vision of the company’s future and growth with employees. In addition, small business owners should be aware that their own behavior and attitudes set the standard for the entire workforce. Small business owners who set poor examples in areas such as lifestyle, dedication to quality, business or personal ethics, and dealings with others (customers, vendors, and employees) will almost certainly find their companies defined by such characteristics.

Treat all employees equally. Seems simple, but for many small business owners, it needs particular attention. One particular pitfall in this area for many small business owners is nepotism. Many small businesses are family-owned and operated. However, make sure interactions with all employees should be based on a foundation of respect for them and are consistent across the board, whether they are relatives or not.

Two-way communication is essential. Small business owners who discuss problems realistically with their workforce and enlist employees’ help in solving them will likely be rewarded with a healthy internal environment. This can be an important asset, for once a participatory and engaging culture has been established, it can help propel a small business ahead of its competition.

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