How To Create An Amazing Workplace Culture From Day One

June 01, 2016

The Shack Shine team stole all the attention at our annual company conference earlier this year.

They were the super young keeners, decked out in the Shack Shine logo, toting around clear jugs filled with blue liquid “moonshine” which they’d cleverly labelled “Shack Shine.” Every franchise partner was fully branded; one employee even dyed her hair Shack Shine’s cyan blue.

As the newest of four companies under the O2E Brands umbrella, the Shack Shine team stands out as the young and vibrant new kid on the block. A large part of that culture has been created by Shack Shine founder and managing director, Dave Notte.

The Shack Shine team at our 2016 conference in Vancouver. Photo by Pear Tree Photography.

Here’s how he’s helped create an awesome culture at Shack Shine in just over a year, and how you can grow a successful startup culture, too.

Make Everyone Part of Something Bigger

It’s no coincidence that Dave, who’s a dedicated vegan with an introspective, spiritual nature, would pull in a team of staff and partners who share his collaborative ethos.

As an entrepreneur, I know that the leader determines the overall vibe for the company, and at Shack Shine, Dave’s team shares his vision and values.

We’ve always striven to create a quirky, road-less-traveled culture where employees are encouraged to share their ideas, even if it means questioning the status quo. Dave’s vision is a natural fit for O2E Brands, because we don’t subscribe to a top-down management style.

I think that corporate culture is similar to family dynamics . I have three young kids, and they’re each completely different characters. But they all share the same values, and that’s what unites us as a family. A corporate culture needs the same glue and consistency.

Share Your Values

Finding your company’s core values is really a matter of knowing yourself and your team. In the early days of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I asked my team to write down words that captured who they were. At the end of the session, we had around 400 sticky notes on a board, and, to my surprise, we could easily divide them into four categories: passion,integrity, professionalism and empathy.

That simple acronym, PIPE, represents our values, our way of doing business, and the O2E culture. Dave and his Shack Shine team may be different characters compared to the other O2E brands, but they totally align with those values. That’s why it clicks.

Get Aligned

Dave also intuitively understands the young demographic that works for him. His team works super hard and they’re committed, but they’re not the same as the generation that came before them. He told me that they want purpose, they ask more questions, and want to know the reasons why they should do something before they do it. They dream big and they don’t limit themselves.

He puts it this way: “When I was starting my entrepreneurial journey, I was striving really hard, and not always sure why I was doing it. But a lot of our Millennial franchise partners are working towards something already, whether it’s a certain lifestyle, having freedom, or integrating travel into their business. They prioritize things differently than I did. For example, I was trying to create wealth to buy a house, and they’re thinking of ways they can enjoy their lives.”

Drive the “Why” Home

That description tells you something about the Shack Shine workplace. It’s not a buttoned-down, boring environment where franchise partners spend their days looking forward to their annual vacation.

That’s an old boomer mindset. They want to enjoy the work and have fun – otherwise, they don’t see the point. The best way anyone can have fun at a job is to collaborate, grow, and take true ownership over a project. For Dave, who’s in the early growth phase of Shack Shine, with seven franchises in North America and counting, it’s huge that he continues to find those personalities. In fact, he’d take someone with obvious potential — and the right cultural fit — any day over the person with 10 years’ experience. “I want to work with raw talent and help them fine-tune it,” he tells me. “And give them opportunities, projects and challenges that they can really sink their teeth into. That’s what will take us forward.”

As the leader of a startup, you have a unique opportunity to create a culture that will ultimately shape how you do business. At the end of the day, enduring culture is built with the right people, who share your values and vision, and who will serve your brand for years to come.

 

Brian Scudamore – Contributor

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.