High-Impact Entrepreneurship

Janine Allis on creating a dynamic and effective office culture

By Alex Pirouz (reprinted from Under30CEO).

Co-Founder Janine Allis started Boost Juice in her garage in 2000 out of frustration that she could not find healthy takeaway products for her three children.

Since starting their first store in Adelaide back in year 2000, 11 years later Boost Juice now boasts more than 180 outlets in Australia and 50 overseas (mainly in Britain, Singapore and South Africa). Boost was ranked seventh on BRW‘s list of fastest growing businesses in 2010 and Ms Allis is said to be worth $36 million on the magazine’s Young Rich List.

We spoke with Janine regarding the importance of work culture and how that has attributed to the success of what is now the largest juice and smoothie bar in the southern hemisphere.

Janine, you attribute the success of your business to the fresh, young and dynamic culture that pervades all aspects of the company. Why is that?

The success of every business is based on the quality of people who are hired, that have the right attitude and on the path that you want them to be on. If you haven’t got the right culture or working environment you won’t attract the right people.

When creating a compelling culture at work, what’s most important?

Working with integrity and honesty is the top two most important things when it comes to building a culture.

Do you have a specific formula, criteria or approach when designing a culture?

I think it is just intuitive given that the culture is a moving target all the time. As you know when you work with people you like it’s a lot more enjoyable so we try and find people who are best suited to work with each other to make work that much more enjoyable.

What were some of the challenges you faced in creating such a compelling culture and how did you overcome them?

Oh, we face challenges all the time and the main challenge we find is that if you hire the wrong person in your business they can quickly bring down the culture of the business to the ground, and it’s about recognizing it as quickly as possible and if you can recognize it fix it ASAP.

How do you evaluate if a new candidate you are looking to employ is a good fit for the culture of your organization?

Intuitively you can get a good feeling whether or not they are right for the position. How they answer questions, what they say, recommendations and attitude. We hire on attitude not skill, unless you are applying for a position that requires a certain skill like an accountant or lawyer.

How do you determine if an employee you have hired is no longer a good fit for your company?

In business you need to be very clear on your expectations and all that starts with yourself. We set the expectations from the start, then we work with them to meet it and if they don’t we sit down and figure out why.

Do you recommend companies have an ongoing assessment, maybe once every 6 months or so to evaluate their current culture at work?

I think that every single company out there needs to have a very strong communication strategy. This communication needs to be in written form and for people to know clearly that it exists and that it needs to be followed. I think communication is extremely important.

How do you maintain and uphold a culture once you have developed it?

Treating people with respect, rewarding them and giving them a salary that is appropriate is how you maintain a culture. Have a bit of a laugh and make things fun.

What are some things that can damage or harm cultures at work?

The biggest thing that can kill the culture at work is getting the wrong CEO in the business. By getting the wrong management, you kill the culture of any company.

How do you replace an existing work culture with a new one?

You change the CEO and leadership team because it all starts with them. The CEO hires the managers and the managers then hire the staff so you work your way from the top to the bottom of the chain.

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