Company culture and productivity behind the Yellow Door

By Dominique Sandwith

Posted on 20th November 2019

Reading time: 2 minutes

People are often surprised at how much time we invest in our culture and people here at Yellow Door, especially for a small team. For us it’s second nature to want to improve the relationships and dynamics of the people in order to get the most out of them in the workplace. To find out why this is the case, we dug deeper into the link between culture and productivity at work.

To prove the point straight off the bat, it’s not just us that believes improving the culture will improve team efficiency. In a recent survey of business owners, carried out by The Alternative Board (TAB), 86% of respondents say they believe company culture directly impacts productivity. So there you have it.

Let’s unpack what this “culture” means and how to have a great company culture. Culture encompasses many different facets of the business. Anything from the way the office looks, to what is on the walls, to the way people speak to each other, the dress code, the rules, the beliefs and values of the people, the leadership and the vision all form part of the culture of the business.

So how do we influence the culture of the team at Yellow Door, and therefore our productivity? Firstly, we hire for culture-fit rather than just skills. This has always been our motto: you can teach the skills, but you can’t teach the culture. Our new hires need to resonate with our values, they need to have similar ideas about communication and what success means. In addition, they need to fit with the current team. One person in a team who is negative and unhappy in the workplace can start to affect the entire team’s performance, especially in a small team.

Secondly, we train for happiness and productivity. We have a culture of learning and expanding our minds. We have learning sessions every Friday where one person in the team presents something they have learnt, or we invite a guest speaker to come and talk to the team about their career or what they have done that has grown them as a person. We also have team sessions with our business coach, Murray Kilgour, and a happiness coach, Tammy Godsall, who each bring exercises to improve our productivity and efficiency while having a positive mindset.

We focus a lot of time on collaborating and teamwork in our projects, with everyone having access to Asana, our project management system, which gives them a snapshot of who is working on what. We also make time for thinking pairs – an exercise in listening and the opportunity to bounce ideas off of another teammate.

Then we measure employee happiness and development through 1-on-1 chats, regular performance reviews, goal-setting exercises and skills status sessions – where we track the level of competency of each person’s core skills over time. This gives us a good measure of whether the team is advancing in their careers, meeting their goals and also enjoying their work.

At the end of the day, we believe in cultivating a positive workplace culture because it attracts the right talent when we’re hiring, it impacts our happiness and satisfaction as leaders, and it positively affects the performance of our agency.

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