Creating a Great Startup Culture

Source: Venturebeat

  • Personally interview every new employee until the startup has 50 employees. Then interview everyone that will manage others.
  • Spend 30 minutes a week on Mondays talking to new employees as part of their first day. Close the loop within a month by dropping by their desk to see how things are progressing.
  • Make a point of having lunch with every employee and learning not only names but some details about each one. When the startup reaches 50 employees, take out two at a time.
  • Personally roll out the value, strategy and history of the company during a comprehensive employee orientation session within the first 90 days of the hiring of multiple employees.
  • Hold at least one all-hands meeting every quarter and, to underscore the startup’s team concept, make sure at least one additional executive joins you in leading the meeting.
  • At every meeting with all employees, set aside 30 minutes for questions and press for no fewer than five.
  • Review Powerpoint slides after every meeting of the board and report as much as possible about what was discussed to all employees.
  • Get in the habit of creating employee “notes from the road.” Send an e-mail or blog to all employees after every trip to customers and every trip to a conference, detailing key insights, and do the same whenever a key competitor makes major news.
  • Ask your executive team to review what you write before you send it.
  • Set annual and quarterly goals (two to five is about right) for the company, as well as for each employee.
  • Personally roll out the performance review process to everyone. You need to be the leader speaker, not somebody from human resources.
  • Give your direct reports a performance review at least twice a year. Spend at least five hours preparing each person’s review and take at least an hour to present it. Listen closely to feedback.
  • Emphasize the value of “speaking up” every time you get the chance – during employee orientations, lunches, evaluations and all-hands meetings.
  • Continually demonstrate that no task or chore is beneath you. For example, fill the coke machine, help clean up after a group lunch, and make a point of helping in moving activities.
  • When a team has to work over a weekend, make a high priority of being there as well, even if it’s just to stop by and buy them a meal to show your appreciation.
  • Attend every company function, event and party and act as though you are the host.
  • Promote mainly from within whenever possible, and always base the decision solely on performance.
  • Follow the rules of being relatively Spartan and take and maintain a modest office, park your car in the back lot and fly coach, not first class.
  • When something significant goes wrong, take all the blame.
  • When something goes unusually well, give all the credit to others.

 

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