A few weeks ago, I traveled to San Francisco for SHIFT: The Culture Conference, where I saw entrepreneurial legend Arianna Huffington speak. With wisdom, empathy, and sharp comic timing, Huffington shared her ten rules for creating a healthy company culture.
You can watch the whole conference here (Huffington’s segment begins near the 35-minute mark). Just in case you’re strapped for time, we’ve summarized her ten principles below.
1. Make Sure Everyone Gets Enough Sleep
Huffington’s recent work on corporate culture and self-improvement has focused heavily on the necessity of getting a full eight hours’ sleep. While she concedes that a few rare individuals can function on less, you are almost definitely among the vast majority who need plenty of sleep to perform at your best.
This principle extends to working with your body’s needs and rhythms, rather than against them. Instead of pounding coffee, take a deep breath, get some real rest, or walk outside. If you treat your body and mind well, you will feel good, and do better at work.
2. Let Go of the Growth-Above-All Mindset
A truly successful company will have a vision, mission, purpose, and values outside of growth for growth’s sake. Even from a purely practical standpoint, making your work meaningful is a better way to retain good employees, keep your team together, and meet your important objectives.
If your only purpose as a company is perpetual growth, examine your priorities and reflect on why you got started and what sort of world you want to be a part of.
3. No Brilliant Jerks Allowed
Huffington decries the “cult of top performers” and warns against lionizing aggressive, antisocial personalities at the expense of team cohesion and harmony. If your company is too beholden to employees who behave like arrogant celebrities, consider that they may do more harm than good.
4. Learn to Build Teams
On a similar note, Huffington suggests thinking of your team as a networked unit, rather than a collection of individuals. While humans need eight hours of sleep and plenty of down time, your company should in some sense, be “always on,” so your team can consistently communicate in one voice, reflect one vision, and share the same methods and objectives
5. Treat Culture as Your Immune System
Anyone with an active lifestyle will be exposed to germs, and any company that’s taking on serious challenges will face threats and encounter toxicity. If your culture is healthy and strong, you will be able to survive these attacks, and improve through exposure to the elements. With a strong immune system, you won’t need to be quarantined or use too much disinfectant.
6. Empower Women
In the wake of ongoing debates around gender gaps in hiring and compensation, along with recent controversies around issues such as harassment, the culture of business is now becoming more friendly to women. This is a long overdue awakening, and make sure your company is ahead of the curve in this regard.
Allow for a generous maternity leave and areas for nursing mothers. Companies that put a priority on empowering women to thrive and succeed will have an ethical and practical advantage.
7. Meet the Growing Demand for Purpose
The Millennial Generation will soon make up the majority of America’s workforce, and numerous studies have found that Millennials demand not just money, not just flexibility, they also require a strong sense of purpose in their work.
This goes back to Rule #2; as Millennials assume power, the world’s culture is changing around them. This creates an opportunity for your own culture to aspire to a greater sense of meaning.
8. Model Culture Changes at the Top
Your employees will model their actions less on what you demand or expect than on the behaviors and values you manifest in your own behavior. If you want to change your culture, set the example. Once your actions are consistent with your values, your team will know that these are values worth following.
9. As Much As You Can, Work Out Problems Face-To-Face
Huffington celebrates transparency. She encourages creating a culture where people feel safe airing their grievances and finding solutions together in a spirit of cooperation, rather than going behind each other’s backs.
Although certain issues must be hashed out behind the scenes, aspire to make honesty, openness, and transparency among your core values.
10. Turn Crisis Into Opportunity
As a board member, Huffington has witnessed several companies in the throes of serious crisis marshal their resources to correct mistakes and reemerge better,and stronger than before.
The most fearsome struggles and challenges can often create the greatest opportunities for insight, perseverance, and excellence. Aspire not to avoid difficulties; aspire to transcend them.
Attending events like this is one of the ways Artisan Creative stays engaged with the world of ideas and continually improves its own culture. When you work with us, we will motivate you to do the same, and give you all the tools you need to be your best and continuously improve. Contact us today to learn more.
We hope you enjoy the 447th issue of our weekly a.blog.