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How to Lead Organizational Culture in Start-Ups

Today, we live in a world where workers have a variety of choices and opportunities for employment. For early-stage start-ups, this means setting themselves apart if they want to attract the right talent to continue to grow and compete against the big boys. Whilst talent acquisition and profit motive are common drivers in companies establishing positive corporate cultures, there are a small few, whose motivation transcends this. And I have found this at TRIYO. As a 4th year co-op, I have never been involved with major projects at work until TRIYO. Here, I was given the creative freedom along with guidance from senior members in the organization. More importantly, I felt heard, and this motivated me to give it my 100% at work. Most co-ops aren’t used to companies taking them seriously in the workplace and are given tasks that no one else in the company wants to do. However, at TRIYO, a culture of Inclusivity, transparency, kindness and collegiality has been fostered by the co-founders, Rajiv Chatterjee and Puneet Malhotra. Not simply because they believe it to be strategically prudent, but because they authentically feel that It’s the right way to run a business. And boy are they right. So how do start-up leaders drive and institute such a positive and proactive work culture? Rajiv and Puneet have managed to build a company culture that drives innovation and creativity while empowering employees. Here are some steps I’ve experienced them take that has fostered this culture: Employees respond to leaders who are transparent, reachable, authentic, dependable, and who empower them. Both co-founders have created a sense that “we’re all in this together” by being available and ensuring there are open lines of communication. Managing the company in this manner has ensured employees feel like they are all part of a team, not merely task-doers and as such drive the mission and vision of the company. Nearly half of TRIYO’s employees are post-secondary co-op students from the University of Waterloo, Puneet’s alma matter. Puneet’s experiences with the co-op program has allowed him to recognize the value of co-op students in their capacity to learn new skills and ability to grow when given the opportunity. Rajiv and Puneet also nurture talent by providing constant positive feedback and constructive criticism. At TRIYO, the founders make it part of their mission to ensure that the co-ops not only help grow the company during their time here, but that they benefit from the time spent with their more experienced colleagues. Senior managers at TRIYO are encouraged not only to include the co-ops as fully fledged team members, but to also mentor them and ensure that their time here is as valuable as It can be. Making sure no employees work goes unrecognized and by assigning meaningful work to everyone- right from a coop student to a senior manager, has been a huge motivator. Watching their work grow from an idea to a key factor of success in the company instills a sense of purpose in the employees. For a team to truly succeed, they need a shared vision around which to coalesce. The co-founders share a clear vision for the company as well as working with employees to understand their role in achieving the vision. Giving their team not only the WHAT, but also the WHY. It is this sense of shared purpose that drives our team in a common direction. A company’s culture plays a critical role in the work-life balance of its employees- the happier the staff are in their roles, the more productive, loyal and invested in the company’s success they are. Building a culture is one of those rare instances in a business where success Is not necessarily contingent on the resources allocated to it or on the size of the company driving it, but rather on the leaders’ passion and drive. At TRIYO, this could not be truer. Our WHY, is driven on a daily basis by the leaders. It is something that we all buy into and enjoy on a daily basis. The management team are driven by a mission to do good and to provide a platform for their employees to thrive. Rajiv always says “Organizations cannot be centered around just the founders; it has to be centered around its mission and vision. I want to make myself redundant by empowering people within my organization to make their own decisions. This is the only way the company will grow.” And it is this type of example which drives the culture of a team only at the very beginning stages of its potential success.