Barbara Sharp of PAX Republic shares her best practices on maintaining company culture.

Springboard Enterprises
Mar 21 · 3 min read

I know culture matters in the start-up space, but last week I had a really fundamental lesson in why. One morning, the COO of the co-working space we’re in said, “You know your interns are really happy?” Hmm — I thought — well, I’m happy they’re happy.

“All of them. They say they’re doing things that they’d possibly never get to do in their careers”. Wow! That took me by surprise.

As leaders of emerging technology companies, we’re innovating and contributing groundbreaking and — in many cases — world-changing solutions. We don’t do that alone.

A cohesive team, bound by a congruent culture, is the bedrock we rely on when things get tough. It takes a team to drive hard towards audacious goals, so we can’t succeed without them.

Likewise, we can succeed phenomenally when we get culture right.

Culture is worth nurturing like you do your overall business metrics.

Here are four reflections I have on culture and its role in a healthy and successful start-up:

1. Your team is contributing to something great

Communicate your vision to your people so they know they’re part of something big. That’s your Recruitment strategy.

Understand and communicate to each of them how they contribute to every piece of the vision. That’s your Retention strategy.

Institute this in your meetings, Performance feedback, rewards programs, and team tours early and regularly.

2. Beware the pitfalls of stereotypes

It’s hard, but stop yourself reacting to stereotypes. Millennials, Baby Boomers, Gen XYZ, are pigeon holes like any other. They diminish us all.

Consciously walk in the shoes of all of your employees and pay far more attention to people’s personalities, preferences, their level of experience, their attitude combined with aptitude.

3. Recognise your biases and actively mitigate them

We are a bundle of cultural biases. There are inevitably people we ‘like’ or ‘don’t like’, prefer to work with or not.

Get a trusted third party who’s objective, and different from you in personality, to do a final check on how you design your teams, and how you do various tasks within them.

4. You’re the leader — exactly how do you want them to follow?

The cues about cultural fit are very subtle. They can be misconstrued.

Ask yourself: What’s special about your culture? How are you different? What kind of “person” is your company?

Embedding your cultural values in your processes is the most efficient way of streamlining your values alignment, particularly as you grow.

Culture often falls into the Important, but not Urgent bucket. Defining and embedding culture is no easy task, but getting it right from as early as possible will mean success, because our ambitions are built on every person in our company pulling in the same direction.

Barbara Sharp is CEO of Pax Republic https://www.paxrepublic.com/, a conversational data analytics company. Pax’s C-Sight https://www.csight.io/ solution is an anonymous employee conversation platform purpose-built so employees can speak up safely about the strategic business risk that CEOs and board directors need to know about to take corrective action. She’s a seasoned communicator who’s love of words is now paired with mathematics so that the mysteries of conversation can be turned into data insights fed by human participation.

Been There Run That

Springboard Enterprises is where influencers, investors, and innovators meet to build great women-led businesses. Our 769 women-led companies have raised $9.5 billion, including 19 IPOs.

Springboard Enterprises

Written by

Where influencers, investors, and innovators meet to build great women-led businesses. Our 769 women-led companies have raised $9.5 Billion, including 19 IPOs.

Been There Run That

Springboard Enterprises is where influencers, investors, and innovators meet to build great women-led businesses. Our 769 women-led companies have raised $9.5 billion, including 19 IPOs.

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