Leading a 'Culture Club' - Using great culture to attract top talent

Written by EO Executives on Nov 21, 2016

Anyone looking to grow a business with a team of over 10 in size should be spending at least 10% of their week on the attraction of top talent. Why? Because the people with the best people will generally win.

To attract top talent you are going to need a couple of well-connected and trusted head hunters (my contact details are in the footer below) and a compelling employee value proposition (EVP). Developing an EVP as the board in an SME can be an intimidating task. You may not have the resources to offer gym facilities, free food and drink, extensive branded welcome packs or an office bar, so what can you do to gain competitive advantage?The answer lies in your culture. In fact, you must become a “Culture Club”. That is a business built on belonging and culture in a way that distinguishes you from the competition. Organisations that accomplish this feel almost tribal and have a great sense of purpose but what's best advantage? As a small business leader you can often drastically improve your culture without spending a penny. 

A great benefit that comes from working in international executive search is that you get to hear and experience a plethora of businesses cultures across all industries. You quickly learn who the employers of choice are; whom are always a target for top talent and generally retain their best people. Particularly at the more senior level, culture is a stronger motivator than financial reward for the best talent in the market.

Summarising the observations we have seen along the way, I have listed the 10 cultural fundamentals that you, as a leadership team, can start working on to begin the journey of becoming a Culture Club that attracts and retains the best people.

1. RECRUIT WELL

Based on behaviours and through a deep and engaging process, reach out to me for more advice on this. Once your new recruit arrives be sure to on- board them thoroughly and ensure the culture and environment is in line with what was promised. Important note: don’t over promise in the recruitment process as great ‘culture clubs’ are founded on integrity.

2. ENCOURAGE AUTHENTICITY 

Not every authentic behaviour is appropriate for the workplace (I accept that) but encouraging authenticity will build a team bond, drive innovation through diversity and improve a leader’s ability to positively influence.

3. TRUST 

This is key to becoming a culture club and the hardest one for business owners to become comfortable with. The benefits of ensuring the people in your organisation feel trusted are vast and are highlighted brilliantly in the slide deck from the great team at Netflix.

4. PROVIDE SHARED GOALS AND VALUES

Many cultures deteriorate as a business scales through the emergence of divisive silo’s. Providing shared goals and initiatives that are supported with a compelling vision is key to ensuring that the business remains as one and that sub cultures are not developed. If you articulate values, then live by them religiously and make sure you refer to them during the decision making process.

5. DELIVER DECISIVENESS 

Procrastination stifles creativity and sets the leadership team up as a bottleneck to progress. Ensure your culture is one which is action orientated and….

6. EMPHASISE AGILITY 

It’s at the heart of the competitive advantage that smaller companies have over the larger groups, whilst ensuring a culture of pace, adaptation and progress. Done is better than perfect and you won’t always get it right but when you don’t...

7. FAIL FAST...

On projects, people or initiatives that you know were in hindsight the wrong decision. Accepting mediocrity is a culture club killer, and high standards are an employee benefit.

8. EXIT EMPLOYEES WELL 

When you must move people on, treat them well and speak highly of them long after they have left. Your current team will feel good about this process if it is managed correctly.

9. COMMUNICATE CONSTANTLY

I have never met an employee who was disenchanted because their leadership team communicated too much. Communication always wins, so communicate consistently and most importantly communicate regularly when transitioning through periods of organisational change. 

10. LAUGH A LITTLE 

Life is too short and the week is too long not to enjoy yourselves. Have a blast- it will decrease stress and keep the team morale high. Leaders who run culture clubs take their work seriously but don’t take themselves too seriously.

Good luck in forging your own great culture and make it key on your boardroom agenda. After all, as the great Peter Druker once said “Culture eats Strategy for breakfast."

If you would like to discuss this in further detail please get in contact at: andrew.macaskill@executivesonline.co.uk or if you would like a confidential discussion call me on 01962 893309. 
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Author, Andrew MacAskill is Managing Director of Executives Online. Find out more about us here: http://www.executivesonline.co.uk/en/

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