Last Thursday I had an intriguing conversation with always wonderful Khobaib Chowdhury, Founder, and CEO of Styline Collection on hiring, culture, and values. Culture is something that we talk and hear a lot about. Culture eats the strategy. Build a strong culture and so on. Unfortunately, very few companies pay deliberate attention to building a culture and commit enough time and resource to doing that. And far fewer companies succeed at building enduring cultures that empower people at the company.
Styline, the Dhaka-based modest fashion startup, is one of the few companies I’ve come to know that has made a deliberate decision to build a strong culture and then followed it through with meaningful efforts. Styline has started to see the early benefits of this investment. My guess is that Styline will enjoy the benefits of this move in a few years.
Now, what is culture? Since culture is not something that you can touch, it is important to develop objective metrics for measuring your culture. That’s where values and principles come.
Two organizations running on distinct values behave and operate differently both internally and externally and produce entirely different results. An organization where honesty is not practiced would suffer from lack of trust between and among members which should affect other areas of their work. Compared to that an organization where radical honesty is practiced and encouraged should be an entirely different workplace. The outcome would be different. Performance of people would be different. Most importantly, you will feel differently. This feeling is culture.
Now how do you build a strong culture? The answer is through establishing certain values and principles based on the kind of workplace and organization you want to build. You have to be careful when setting values and principles for your organizations. First, it has to be meaningful to you and your people. Two, simply stating a list of values and principles would not do the job. After putting together a set of values, you have to explain it comprehensively so that everyone in the organization understands it and then ensure that senior leaders in the organization practice it to the extent that other members follow their examples.
Culture, after a certain extent, is mostly a learned thing. Humans imitate. We learn through imitation. The good side of making a deliberate decision about building a strong culture is that it goes a long way.
You can learn a lot from Styline about putting together a set of values and breaking them down to the level where people can understand and practice them in real life. I must say I have learned a lot from my discussion with Khobaib Chowdhury on this. You may see Styline values here. Also, Styline is hiring for multiple positions, you may check the open positions out here.
Photo courtesy: Styline Annual Tour in Bilaichori, Rangamati