“Successful businesses have learned to look beyond skills to whether prospective employees mesh with their company culture from the start,” says reporter David Port in his Entrepreneur article “3 ways to create the company culture you want.”

Test driving a new hire – letting them walk away from a new position within a few days with no hard feelings – allows business owners to build a company culture with those who feel they fit and want to be there.

And a culture will grow whether or not a business owner drives the direction of it, so she might well influence its direction to have a profitable organization.

Directing the culture

Focusing first on his product and not the culture, entrepreneur Dan Merritts realized that the culture he built wasn’t the one he had in mind. So he developed a social contract, “a startup playbook that explains our cultural vision.” By defining his company vision and culture, he had a direction on how to build the organization, he said.

Entrepreneurs know that culture directly influences the bottom line. “Defining and creating a values-based culture right out of the gate can translate into a sustainable, high-performance, high-satisfaction workplace, instant brand differentiation and thus a better chance at profitability,” says Port. “A strong, healthy internal culture serves as the raw material from which a startup may build the external brand identity.”

Merritts adds “we fundamentally believe that our brand is our people, and that is what sets our company apart from some of our larger competitors. As long as we maintain that belief structure and people continue to buy into it, and as a leadership team we constantly reinforce it, we will see superior results.” Merritts and his team value trust, personal ownership for decision-making, and problem-solving.

Similarly, entrepreneurs at Lyft identified four core values on which to build an organizational culture: be yourself, create fearlessly, uplift others and make it happen. The result: employee engagement, higher profit, and lower turnover.

“Your culture really is the only competitive advantage you have against companies that can offer much richer compensation packages, so it’s absolutely essential that you nail it,” says entrepreneur Sarah Nahm. “People now have different relationships to their careers, where they’re not motivated so much by perks as by substance, such as opportunities for success and growth. That—not all the fluffy perks—is what attracts top-tier talent.”

“Nailing it doesn’t happen by accident. Rather it’s the result of deep thinking by the leadership team to identify the principles or standards of behavior on which they want to build a company, then developing practices, processes, rituals, and other avenues through which to underscore, reinforce, and sustain those standards as the company grows and its work force expands,” adds Port.

Hiring for the culture
Interviews. When you hire, make sure your employees are the right cultural fit. Ask several employees to assess the cultural fit of your candidates during the interview process. In other words, make sure your hires share the same values as you.

Job descriptions. One entrepreneur suggests creating “role” profiles “that describe expectations for the position and opportunities for growth in various directions within the organization.” She trains new employees on company culture.

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