Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the commentary are the author’s alone.
Collaborating with a team is the most rewarding aspect of my work.
There is just something awesome about doing great work with individuals that are diverse in skill and perspective and are aligned with the purpose behind the endeavor.
Getting to that point, however, can be difficult. And maintaining cohesiveness is even more challenging. But once you’ve seen how things can and ought to be, you never want to go back. It becomes the desired status quo.
Yet things do change. Companies grow in size. Services are revised, added and removed. Business models pivot. Economic conditions shift. Your boss asks you to move to a different desk for no apparent reason. The list goes on and on, but how these changes are perceived by employees is a direct result of a company’s overall culture.
Culture is powerful.
Company culture includes everything from the physical work environment and services provided to the absence or presence of beer in the company fridge.
It’s derived from the things we create in our work, and the meaning we take away from it. To be honest, an exact definition or description of what culture still eludes me. I just know that it’s there. I can feel it and see it, and know what a powerful influence it has on people. A strong culture keeps your team anchored to the core principles and shared vision of the company. It helps to soothe growing pains and keeps the team working in harmony. Most importantly, it keeps people happy.
Culture is built on values.
So how do you build a strong, effective culture? I’m sure there are a thousand ways to go about it, but what we did was ask ourselves, “What kind of company would we love to work at? Let’s go build that!” We identified what was important to us and strive every day to make sure no one forgets who we are and what we value. Here is what Crema‘s culture is built on.
1) Constant Improvement
We’ve woven into our culture a desire to never settle. Our team wants to get better all the time.
Continuous learning is imperative to the quality of our products, our team and the personal growth of every employee. We go to conferences, meetups, webinars, Stack Exchange and Treehouse.com. Throughout the year, we dedicate a few weeks to our Innovation Lab with which we design and build products that come from internal ideas.
We also learn from one another, seeking out opinions and review from our peers. If you walk into our office, you can assume that people are learning something new. It keeps us agile, engaged, at the forefront of industry and, ultimately, increases the value we can offer to our clients.
The bottom line is that we are better together! Our team is full of individuals who are “idea people.” Time and time again, we’ve seen the best ideas and products come together via collaboration.
This value doesn’t negate the individual strengths of each of our employees, but collaboration never fails to smooth out the rough edges around an idea and its actual implementation.
Trust, as a component of a company’s culture, is a multi-directional and complex concept.
In practice, trust essentially comes down to expertise and accountability. Our clients want to know that we have practiced our craft and be reassured that their product is in good hands.
They also want to know that we will deliver on the promises we have made. In other words, they want to work with people of integrity. And so do we. We lean on each other internally, and we also lean on our clients for timely feedback to help us do our best work.
Our company is at its best when we are working towards results and impact, not hours at a desk. Sure, great work requires time — and a lot of it.
Time spent, however, cannot be the only measure of success. We ask ourselves, “What is the result of all the time invested?” What has been accomplished is what’s important. Our primary goal is always to create the most value for our clients and their businesses.
Our basic view of work is that it is an act of service for the well-being of others. We do our work for the good of our clients, our community and our team. That is why productivity and time management are so important. Time is our most valuable resource, and planning what we do with it is key to our progress. It comes down to a collective desire to build something great, do something bigger, and to serve someone other than yourself.
Culture is worth it
The above values have driven our decision making and the growth of Crema. Creating a positive, cohesive, lasting culture within any company is not easy, but it’s worth the effort.
The value of building a team around you that is passionate about a shared vision is largely immeasurable, but completely tangible. At the end of the day, happy people are more productive people.
Ask yourself what is important and what kind of company you would want to work at. When you find that answer, go build it!
Dan is a co-founder and the COO of Crema, working with clients to turn good ideas into great product experiences. Connect with Dan on Twitter at @dlinhart