A better way to think about organizational culture

There are many factors that determine the level of success a business achieves, but one that often is neglected is company culture. As Professor Hayagreeva Rao stresses in his online course, Building Company Culture, the culture of an organization is immensely important, defining not just the environment in which employees work but the mission, values, expectations and goals of an organization.

Creating an organizational culture that attracts and retains top talent is paramount to success. The more invested workers are in the organization, the harder they will advocate for the company’s core mission and values. For startups and growing businesses, defining a positive, effective culture early on can reap big rewards later on.

Investing in employees lies at the heart of People Operations, an innovative approach to human resources and business development. When your staff is happy, engaged, and productive, your business is better positioned to succeed.

Following the FARTHER framework

Creating a strong company culture impacts the mindset of individual employees, influencing the way they behave and how they represent the business in front of potential customers. The values cultivated through an organizational culture establish employee priorities and determine how workers pursue business goals.

The FARTHER framework—as defined by Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Huggy Rao—is a useful way to approach People Operations, helping businesses define their values and create a successful culture:

  • Finding people: Hiring the right employees for the job
  • Aligning people: Encouraging staff to invest in the organization
  • Real-time feedback: Giving employees a say in the organization
  • Teaming: Pairing employees to generate the best results
  • Hacking: Changing the way workers are rewarded for their loyalty
  • Engaging: Getting employees more involved in the company’s mission
  • Reinventing: Changing the way businesses support employees

Following the FARTHER framework helps business leaders develop a close relationship with both employees and customers by encouraging engagement and showing appreciation. Rather than tackle these elements in succession, business leaders should be aware that the importance of each one can ebb and flow as the organization grows. Some scenarios, such as mergers, acquisitions, or going to IPO, can also influence the relative health of those components. Knowing when to emphasize different pieces of the FARTHER framework is important.

Building a successful founding team

Company founders set the tone for the organization, laying the groundwork for company culture and mindset. Those early decisions can greatly impact future prospects and influence the development and growth of an organization.

When building your founding team, consider these questions:

  • How will you allocate equity across the founding team to benefit all parties while protecting the business?
  • What different perspectives and skills do candidates bring to the table?
  • How does your business strategy help define the ideal makeup of your founding team?

Entrepreneurs also need to be mindful of the way teams within the organization interact and work with one another. No business unit operates in total isolation—every department and team is a microcosm serving the larger body. As such, seek out business leaders that will facilitate collaboration and coordination across all teams to meet their goals.

Find the right people for your culture

Hiring productive employees is always critical, but it is especially important for startups that are just starting out and have aspirations for rapid growth. Tailored and thoughtful candidate screening processes can help businesses find employees who will bring new, innovative ideas to the table and support core business values.

Learn to build your organization the right way

Entrepreneurs always need to be thinking about how they can empower their employees to succeed and help grow their business. People Operations - and the FARTHER framework, in particular—offers a better way to approach staff acquisition, engagement and management.

Want to dive deeper into this topic? Check out the online, self-paced Building Company Culture course.