Create A Company Culture, Not A Terrifying Cult
**You tentatively push at the unmarked door of a former warehouse. Inside, there are twenty or thirty people; wearing matching outfits, staring at matching screens, drinking from matching cups. **
“Blue sky thinking!” the leader suddenly screams, “can I get that by EOP?”. Everyone turns, they’ve caught your scent. “EOP, EOP” they chant, closing in on you, iPhones flashing. Did someone turn up the Sonos, or is that the sound of your own screams? You try to leave, but it’s too late…Your alarm goes off. It was only a dream. Or was it?!
How many people moved to Jonestown on the promise of a three week marketing internship? The Manson Family’s Startup Studio wasn’t the first to get out of hand, and it won’t be the last. Is there a Scientologist alive who isn’t just trying to build a sellable CV in a tough market?
Enough is enough. Follow these tips to safeguard yourself, and your team, from drinking the Kool-Aid. At least until you’ve finished your quarterly reviews.
Start as you mean to go on
When you welcome new team members, they’re a blank slate. Rather than using this as an opportunity to subject them to days of coercive brainwashing, why not see it as opportunity to demonstrate the ethos of your workplace from the word “help”. I mean “go”.
CharlieHR has a guided onboarding process which collects all their details and documents before they start, so their first day can be as packed or relaxed as you’d like it to be.#### **2. Set expectations early**
It’s easy to get swept up in plans, and sometimes everyone needs to go the extra mile to make sure the ritual sacrifice goes off without a hitch. But no one likes to feel like they’re putting in pointless face time just to make a good impression.
Be clear and fair in your expectations of working hours. Priority-wise, we think that work should fit somewhere between “the pursuit of eternal life” and “cracking alchemy once and for all”, but remember that spending time with family, exercise and sleep have their place as well.
3. Lead by example
“One rule for us, and one for them” is the sort of thing you say in the moments before you’re pushed off a balcony and torn to pieces by the assembled masses.
Too often, leaders find a way to bend the rules for themselves, but unless you’re going full Charlie’s Angels and delivering all your weekly updates through a tiny desk speaker, people are going to notice what you’re up to.
Make your mantra “fairness for all” instead.#### **4. Get your environment right**
How do you feel when you sit at your desk? Lost? Tense? Confused? This is normal, but no reason to start wearing robes and drinking blood. Though it’s easy to forget about your surroundings when you’re fixed on a screen, a comfortable and inspiring workplace can make all the difference to morale.
Think about providing as many seating and standing workspace configurations as possible, and give everyone enough places (drawers, etc) to store their old-life objects. Leave the motivational posters in the unmarked van.
Check: do outsiders feel welcome? Why not ask them what they think of your office before you make them leave and never return?
5. Request feedback before you dish it out
Everyone likes to hear what they’re doing right, but unless you integrate feedback into your conversations from day one even the gentlest suggestion can feel like a reprimand. Open and honest communication is key to creating a space where everyone feels heard and respected.
Actively encourage and reward great feedback. As a rule, this is a point, such as “there are too many wives working in the slaughterhouse”, paired with a solution, like “why don’t some of the wives work on a monthly newsletter instead?”.## Charlie isn’t a cult, but it is the best HR platform for small businesses in the world.