From MBA Graduate to CEO: Creating an Outstanding Company Culture

Getting a business startup off the ground can be one of the most stressful, grueling, maddening and ultimately gratifying endeavors for a business professional to pursue. When starting out, an imperative step to creating a successful startup is to design and implement an effective company culture. In a few years time, the values and behaviors that contribute to a positive and stimulating psychological environment for an organization’s employees can make the difference between a good idea that fails to gain traction and an innovative company that leads the pack.

A positive company culture is difficult to define as it can mean many things depending on the industry and the individuals making decisions and working day-to-day. However, in a ten-year study of some of the world’s most successful and admired companies, several culture building principles were discovered.

Among these principles is the championing of innovation of all kinds. In order to bring something exciting to the marketplace, a company should foster invention and critical thinking from the lowest level employees to the company CEO. Also important is setting very high standards. Most people want to succeed and will work to achieve the goals outlined for them. Thus, setting goals, even if they are seemingly insurmountable, is a great way to inspire workers to utilize their resources and look to solve problems in unique and creative ways.

One of the most commonly admired corporate cultures is that of Internet giant Google. Executive Chairman of the company Eric Schmidt is candid about how a company that produces close to $30 billion in annual revenues is able to maintain an unorthodox and uniquely specific culture. “Let people spend 20% of their time on what they want. Don’t worry about them wasting it- they will spend it on activities adjacent to their job, ” says Schmidt. He adds, “people are going to do what they’re going to do, and (the company leader) just assist them.”

For many company leaders, allowing for that level of employee freedom might seem unsettling, but it’s impossible to argue with Google’s success. Even CEOs who are adamant about maintaining a high level of control might do well to ensure their employees are satisfied and content within the company’s strictures.

Regardless of the industry or management style, a company’s culture will always stem from the beliefs and values of its founders. Yet once a company is conceived and its members begin performing their assigned tasks, a it becomes a living, growing and evolving entity. As such, it is important that entrepreneurs building their startups know where they need assistance and hire very carefully and handle hiring mistakes quickly. A positive, energizing team dynamic can be a great boon to creativity, but a team that doesn’t communicate or work well together can quickly create a toxic environment.

By creating a positive company culture at an organization’s outset, building a team that trusts and respects each other helps assure that the leaders are remaining faithful to their company’s founding principles. This in turn can lead to a lasting positive company culture that will be admired and likely successful in any industry.

Julianna Davies delves into the features that make the cultures at some companies, like Google, so appealing and effective. Julianna is a writer for, an online resource dedicated to providing information on MBA education and careers available to graduates of MBA programs. In combination with Startup Calgary’s list of the essential tools every startup should have, the tips in Julianna’s post will help create corporate cultures that ensure employee contentment, innovation and productivity.

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