6 Companies Reveal How Their Unique Cultures Make Them a Success
From a shoe-less office to being transparent, checkout the successful ways that the leaders at these companies have installed a high-performance culture.
Every business is different -- from how they are run, who they hire and what their products or services are. Inevitably, this means each culture is not only unique, but requires something special to make the company a success.
For instance, personal finance website The Penny Hoarder believes its success comes from a transparent culture. Whereas, HR company Gusto, thinks it’s about making employees feel at home when at work.
Check out what leaders from Entrepreneur’s Top Company Cultures list, a ranking of high-performing cultures across the U.S., had to say about how their company culture is different from other businesses and why they believe their models are successful
1. Find what works best for your business
I resist comparing us to "other businesses" as a generalization, because everyone has a different formula that may work well for them. For us, we have always been relentless about asking questions about our purpose as an organization, what our brand stands for and never settling for where we're at. As we push our understanding of our self-imposed purpose and our market-imposed mandate forward, a growth mindset of constant improvement has brought us to where we are today, and we intend to keep moving forward.
-- Scott Norton, co-founder of Sir Kensington’s, a maker of all-natural condiments
2. Reinforce from the top down
The PR industry has earned a bad reputation: long hours are common, overtime is expected and overturn rates are high. At InkHouse, our supportive culture has been successful, because it has been a huge priority for us and reinforced from the top down. We prize big ideas and allow our employees the mental space required to get there. The result is great work and a team that is in it together. We buoy each other through our struggles and enthusiastically celebrate our wins, inside and outside the office.
-- Beth Monaghan, CEO and co-founder of InkHouse Media + Marketing, a marketing and PR agency
3. Make employees feel at home
Every business has to find what’s authentic to them. Gusto’s mission is to create a world where work empowers a better life. Because we hire for aligned motivations rather than culture fit, the entire team is energized by our mission and believes in it, which makes solving the complex challenges we have in the HR space enjoyable rather than exhausting.
We also really encourage people to be their true selves at work instead of having a work persona and a home persona. One way we accomplish that is through our culture norms. For example, our offices are shoe-less and people work in slippers or socks. We want people to feel comfortable and leave their egos at the door. You’d be amazed what happens when you have a quick 10-minute meeting at a couch with your feet up rather than in a formal conference room. You interact in a more creative and collaborative way.
-- Josh Reeves, CEO and co-founder of Gusto, an online HR service
4. Transparency is key
Transparency is the one thing that sets us apart. Each year, we create a 30-plus page document that outlines exactly what we’re going to do that year, which positions our plan to hire and goals. It creates a unique experience where every employee can see what each department is working on. The strategy takes months to put together as teams meet to brainstorm and decide what we’re going to work on. And then we revisit it each quarter to make updates and check in on our goals.
We’ve also built a dashboard that is displayed on big TVs throughout the office to track real-time progress on our monthly revenue and page views.
Lastly, we have a monthly all-hands-on-deck meeting where departments share updates and wins from the month prior, followed by a Q&A with the CEO. I encourage my team to ask me tough questions -- and we’ve had some doozies. Sometimes it’s a complex question about the state of display ads, and other times it’s a tough question about an HR policy. I do my best to answer everything openly and honestly, so the team has a real stake in our growth.
-- Kyle Taylor, CEO and Founder of The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website
5. Instill trust and empowerment
There are three things that make Asana a unique place to work. First, Asana has formed a unique, empowering workplace. We invest a lot in empowering people at Asana -- from a culture of trust to a unique organizational structure based on distributing authority that we call “Areas of Responsibility.”
Next, there’s an uncanny willingness to talk openly and freely around things that go wrong, without defensiveness and blame. There’s a spirit around getting to the right understanding, not to who was right about an issue.
Finally, we are uniquely empathetic to customers who face the same problems that we do. We are building a product that’s out to help other teams work with greater clarity, accountability and efficiency, yet we ourselves also want to work that way. Our problems are the same as our customers’, and we solve those problems by working in our very own software application to get to the answer.
-- Anna Binder, Head of People Operations at Asana, a software for tracking teamwork and managing projects
6. Do what is authentic to your company
We don’t pay a lot of attention to what other businesses do, because we have to do what is authentic to us. We don’t believe there is any right or wrong culture as long as you’re being authentic.
However, if I was to pinpoint what’s unique about our culture, I would say that it’s our celebration of radical candor, transparency and vulnerability at all levels of the organization, our steadfast commitment to personal development and our belief that it’s directly aligned with professional growth. Our high-performing culture has cornerstones of authenticity, human connection and continually improving competence, and we’re very proud of this.
-- Sean Kelly, CEO and co-founder of SnackNation, a snack delivery service for offices