Company Culture

At the best companies, "company culture" is more than just a buzzword. Here's how the most innovative companies make company culture real.

To get started, you may want to read articles about specific companies like Zappos, Amazon, Shopify, Wistia, and Buffer.

For a comprehensive look at company culture, read our guide Company Culture for Startups.

The Science of Trust in the Workplace

A 2015 study at NYU Langone showed that when mice were given oxytocin—the hormone that enhances bonding—they started caring for other mices’ babies, as if they were their own. This behavior continued even after the mices’ oxytocin receptors were shut off.

trust in the workplace

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could give some to your manager?

It turns out oxytocin can actually teach us a lot about working together as a team and building great work relationships leading to more trust in the workplace. Here’s how it works.

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3 Project Management Methodologies That Create Better Work Culture

People like to dismiss project management methodologies (PMM) as frivolous techniques that won’t really improve their business’s productivity. While they’re wrong on that account, they actually miss the point completely.

project management methodologies

What people don’t realize is that PMMs are more than just process-improvement tools. Project management is really about changing attitudes to create a trusting, collaborative company culture. By adopting practices that encourage communication, unity, and openness, a company can instill positive values within itself and become a great place to work.

We’ll take a look at how companies can use project management methodologies to unify teams and encourage collaborative attitudes for a better work culture.

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How to run effective meetings with I Done This

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Qualaroo has been leveraging I Done This to continuously improve their ops, communication, and efficiency. Their team wanted to streamline their weekly all-hands on deck meeting process.

The Qualaroo team was slogging through a Google document maze for weekly meetings but switched over to I Done This 100% to run more effective meetings. At the start of the week they now list their goals with a #weekly in I Done This. Every day they see how their team is progressing against their weekly goals.

The team limits each team member to five talking points from their #weekly entries and the rest of the entries were reviewed independently on I Done This. Any communication that involves one other person or small group would be moved to after the meeting to ensure  a speedy meeting. Qualaroo’s CEO, Brad Wittwer, called ecstatically about how I Done This just saved everyone on the team 30 minutes. After doing the math, this was a huge cost savings for them. From Brad, “I Done This just cut down our all-hands meeting by 33%, which means you just saved us thousands of dollars.”

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How to Handle 3 Types of Workplace Conflict

Hollywood would have you believe that workplace conflict is awesome. Movies depict the best offices as filled with macho dudes in suits screaming at each other, throwing around insults, and somehow also getting fantastic results.

That’s entertaining, but let’s look at the facts: a 2010 study revealed that the average U.S. employee spends 2.8 hours a week dealing with disputes at work, resulting in losses of $359 Billion across the American economy. In reality, conflict pulls people away from their jobs and kills productivity.

With that in mind, your instinct might be to ruthlessly stamp it out wherever you see it. But that’s not always the best course of action. You need to recognize that not every workplace conflict is the same. It’s like criminal justice—a first degree crime is sentenced differently than a second degree crime. The context, causes, and intentions should influence how you deal with conflict in the workplace.

Here’s a rundown of three of the most common types of office workplace conflict, what they mean for your company, and how to solve them.

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When Employees Feel Ignored at Work, Everyone Suffers

What exactly does ostracism at work look like?

On the exclusion spectrum you’ll find everything from accidentally leaving someone off a calendar invite to purposefully avoiding an individual in the lunch room. Feeling ignored at work is a silent but hurtful experience.

feeling ignored at workThe topic may seem trivial — “Are adults really so sensitive?” you might ask — but it’s one that can have a serious impact on your employees’ job satisfaction, performance and happiness. A 2014 study questioned if a lack of attention could be more painful for victims than bullying. Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is often yes.

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Why You Should Stop Copying Google’s Employee Perks

Not only is Google rated the #1 place to work year after year, but it’s one of most valuable companies on earth. And that’s by no coincidence. To get there, Google spent years perfecting their employee perks to create a positive and highly-productive environment.

Google Campus Dublin - Gasworks - Microkitchen - Floor Identity: Waterworld - Foto Peter Wurmli - © Camenzind Evolution

Google Campus Dublin – Gasworks – Microkitchen – Floor Identity: Waterworld – Foto Peter Wurmli – © Camenzind Evolution

But Google has only been able to grow into a $360 billion company by trying bold new things and constantly iterating their systems—not by blindly applying the successful models of other companies.

To succeed as a startup, you also have to be careful not to just adopt trendy fads, but rather find what works best for you through constant iteration. In fact, there are tons of companies that do the opposite of what Google does and thrive as a result.

Here are some examples of super successful startups that refrained from Googlifying their environment.

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Google’s Unwritten Rule for Team Collaboration

This week’s article is a guest post by Paul Berkovic. Paul is Co-founder and CMO at ScribblePost (productivity software for capturing and sharing task and project information with anyone, anywhere).

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We do a lot of collaborating these days. But despite the number of open offices, designated “thinking” areas, and our managerial focus on small teams, we still haven’t mastered collaborative work.

In fact, we’re really bad at it.

The point of collaborating is to get everyone in a group involved and exercising their strengths. But according to the Harvard Business Review, “In most cases, 20% to 35% of value-added collaborations come from only 3% to 5% of employees.” In most collaborative teams, the bulk of the work still comes from a minority of participants.

In response to this imbalance in their own organization, Google launched Project Aristotle, an internal research project studying Google teams to discover why some were superior collaborators.

Google has a known penchant for quantifying everything. Project Aristotle expected to find something quantifiable, like the optimal team size or the most productive structure for group meetings. But Project Aristotle hit the ultimate irony: the key to collaboration is not a quantifiable. In fact, it wasn’t even codified. The best teams don’t have a measurable, highly visible solution to collaboration—they have an unwritten social code.

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Want To Get More Done? Make Communication Harder

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Of all the problems the country faces, very few of them make their way to Oval Office.

Yes, there are many problems for the president to solve. There is a lot on his plate. But for every one problem the president is briefed on, there are hundreds — maybe thousands — that never make it to the West Wing. They are intercepted along the way, solved or deemed not critical enough for the Commander in Chief.

It’s hard to communicate with The President. It’s hard to get in touch with the President. Politicians campaign on the promise of addressing everyone’s concerns. But that’s not what they do in office, not even close. It would be impossible. The flood of information and data flying in would crash the whole operation.

So they make it hard to reach the president. Any problem that actually gets there has been vetted and analyzed by many layers underneath him. This happens on purpose. It makes things work. Communicating with the president is hard.

Maybe your organization should take the same approach. Maybe your open door policy is making it too easy for people to hijack people’s time. Maybe adding a little friction to communication could be exactly what you need.

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5 Ways Using Daily Goals Helps You Level Up Your Productivity

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This is a guest post from James Sowers.

The MBA programs at Harvard and Yale are widely known as some of the most competitive in the country, if not the world. Acceptance rates have hovered between 10-15% since the 1970’s. Those who complete their program can expect to receive salary offers starting at $100,000 or more with generous signing bonuses to help them make the transition from academia to the workforce. But, despite having a pool of the country’s best and brightest young business minds, a small selection of these graduates have made anywhere from two to ten times as much money as all of their classmates combined! What’s the difference? According to a series of studies done from 1950 – 1980, having “clear, written goals for the future and plans to achieve them.” At least that’s what the internet would have you believe.

As it turns out, despite being cited in hundreds of books, those studies never actually happened. They have since been refuted by social scientists, investigative journalists, and representatives of the universities involved. Turns out, the whole thing is just one long-lived urban myth. However, that doesn’t negate the fact that regular goal setting is still one of the most effective ways to level up your productivity.

Dr. Gail Matthews, a researcher at Dominican University, received over 149 responses to her study that attempted to arrive at a result similar to the previously mentioned ivy league interviews. Participants were divided into five groups, ranging from those who simply thought about their goals to those who not only wrote them down, but also shared them with others and engaged in weekly progress reports. After four weeks, participants were asked to rate their progress. Here are some of the results:

  • Those who wrote down their goals and were responsible for submitting progress reports to someone else where the most accomplished.
  • Every group that wrote down their goals (Groups 2-5) significantly outperformed those who simply thought about their goals (Group 1).
  • When writing down your goals, there was no statistical advantage to sharing your goals with someone else.

In the end, there was enough scientific evidence to support that writing down goals, committing to those goals over time, and having some method of holding yourself accountable all lead to improved performance and greater achievement. So, we can agree that writing down goals is a good way to be more productive, by why?

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Why Nature Should Be Part Of Your Working Space

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What’s difference does your physical environment have on the work you do? Quite a bit.

In a 2002 study, two groups of high school students were asked to spend some time making creative collages. One group made their collages in a setting with direct sunlight and natural wood surrounding them. The other group was in a room built of manufactured materials not found in nature, like drywall and plastic.

When a panel of six independent art critics viewed the students’ finished work, the results were overwhelmingly clear. The students who worked in the natural environment produced more innovative and creative pieces.

It makes perfect sense, our species was designed to wake with the sunlight. For millennia we’ve worked outside, hunting and farming and building societies. We lived in nature and then build shelters of wood and stone.

Then, everything got all … artificial. Synthetic walls, plastic, poly- this and carbon- that. Nature stopped being something we live in and started being something we vacation for. But you can’t pack a year’s worth of nature into a week-long vacation. Natural environments need to be part of our everyday lives. That includes the workplace.

Here are some ways to get started.

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