The ideal work culture for your startup: insights from Tina Garg, Founder, Pink Lemonade
When you decide to start up and hire a team, the work culture and environment you want to create and maintain is important. As a startup founder, you need to figure out how to make your employees feel welcome and happy at the workplace.
In a Community Chat on the HerStory Women On A Mission Facebook group, Tina Garg, the Founder of Pink Lemonade, a communications and design company, shared her insights on the ideal work culture for startups.
Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
Q. How would you define work culture? What are the basics involved in laying the foundation for work culture?
Tina Garg: Work culture, as I see it, is a set of attitudes and behaviors at the workplace. This includes one's approach to both work and one's colleagues.
While launching a startup, the first step is for the founder to have a crystal clear vision in her head - so I asked myself - what do I want my company to be like? How do I want people to feel while they are here? Once I had these answers, the next essential step was to hire the right people. Yes, you must possess a certain level of skill and willingness to learn. But what's most important is that you fit in with your team members and - of course - with the culture!
Q. When working on building the culture, what are some of the key points founders need to be cognisant of?
TG: I believe there are two key aspects of a company's culture - performance and the happiness of your team members. It's important to understand how you want your organisation to function, while not compromising on winning the market.
Q. How do you maintain your work culture as you grow the team and new people come in?
TG: I truly believe that leaders are the flag bearers of an organisation's culture. And as the organisation grows, it's the leader's responsibility to ensure the second level imbibes those same values. This core group - through their words and actions - then makes sure those values percolate to every team member!
Q. Startups are normally equated with an informal work culture. How informal can informal be?
TG: While it's true that startups are often seen as informal and lacking in structure, I think it all comes down to the people. Do you trust them to not take advantage of the flexibility? Do you trust them to deliver good work independently? Once you have your answers, you'll know when to take a step back and implement strict processes.
Q. Does an easygoing attitude hinder discipline and time management?
TG: I believe it depends on the people you work with, and their commitment to deliver great work on time. For example, at Pink Lemonade, we make sure our people have enough time to unwind - we organise games, workshops, and other activities, plan team outings and so on. At the same time, when it comes to delivering quality - we mean business!
Q. On whom does the onus to build the culture fall initially?
TG: In the initial days, the onus is on the leader. The startup is your vision coming to life, and that vision includes the culture you want to establish at the workplace.
Once you have a core team on board, the responsibility to make sure this culture trickles down to every person in the organisation is also on them.
Q. Does startup culture vary from country to country?
TG: Definitely. Every country has its cultural nuances that find their way into workplaces as well. For example, in Germany, hierarchies and titles are seen as signs of experience and expertise - it's unlikely you'll find flat and open structures there. In France, the working population is protected by a law that says most French professionals are not responsible for responding to emails after work hours. In India though, the lines between work hours and personal time do get blurred - especially in startups. It's all about finding the right balance!
To be part of more such conversations, join us on the HerStory Women On A Mission group on Facebook.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)