There has been a lot of talk lately about company culture, and many people mistake this chatter to be about ping pong tables and beer on Fridays. What they don’t realize is that building a company that fosters innovation requires building a culture that fosters innovation as well. Here are a few tips that I’ve learned about building that kind of culture.
Tear Down the Walls
Innovation doesn’t always come from the top-down. More often than not, it comes from the bottom-up. This requires more than talented employees, however. In order for your employees to be in a position to innovate, they need to be able to collaborate with other employees with different perspectives.
Some of our best ideas have come from employees in completely different roles talking over a round of HORSE at our basketball goal, but creating these kinds of relationships doesn’t require you to install a full gym. If you want your employees to collaborate more, it’s best to lead by example. Ask one of your designers what he thinks would make the building look more appealing to job candidates. Ask one of your salespeople what kinds of pain points her clients mention about your products. As your employees see you tear down the walls between you and them, they will start to tear down the walls between each other.
Bust Open the Books
At PERQ, we practice open book management. This means that everyone in the company knows exactly how our financials look on any given day. We’ve found this to be a remarkable motivator because, at the end of the day, everyone wants their company to be successful.
The financials alone, however, mean nothing. We also set specific goals for each individual and show them how their goals affect the financials. We expected this to help lead to more autonomy with our employees, but we never expected for the level of drive within our employees to increase as much as it did. Believe it or not, if you tell people how to make their team better, they are actually eager to do so.
Put Their Money Where Your Mouth Is
Another huge motivator is always money. After all, cash is king, so employees whose compensation includes equity in the company or large bonuses tied to revenue are far more likely to look for the next game-changing idea that can breach a new market.
If you’re looking to build an innovative company, you need an innovative culture. Taking at least one of these steps will help you on your way to building something great that you and your employees can share.