Company culture – what’s important to me?
Long story short: I woke up early and started thinking about company culture. What type of culture do I want to contribute building?
Result: you are now stuck with my short thoughts on what I feel culture should/could be like.
The observations below are preliminary thoughts meant for discussion. Let me know if you agree or disagree!
Ground your vision and wear it like an armour
“We want to elevate the world’s consciousness”
Let’s put it this way, it should be something you can go repeat home to your parents/grandparents and not be laughed at. A vision should be a badge one wears with pride, believe in and use as part of the company intros.
I always felt they often become too abstract and do not really live in the everyday working life. It might be the millennial in me talking but I would rather be in a company focused on solving a specific problem, weather it’s curing cancer or fixing potholes in roads than in a company defined by a vanilla/peace in the world vision.
Put pride and respect in every task
Internally, make sure employees take pride in every task to be performed. Externally, be consistent with your message and the image you are projecting.
More often than not, organisations tend to be “sales-driven”, “engineering-driven” or “something-driven”. That might create two classes of workers or tasks to be performed, the cool/important ones and the “oh but that’s some <department> crap” kind of tasks. Beside that being extremely unpolite, it polarises employees and decreases the pride and attention put into some tasks. An organisation should strive to treat all jobs respectfully and help employees take pride in their work and its outcome. There will always be actions with more impact than others but all actions contribute to move towards the same goal.
It’s a company, not a family
Let’s be honest, most likely the company exists to make a profit. That goal could and should be complemented with other goals, i.e. impact. But if profit is not n. 1 in the list it is certainly in the top 3. And it’s OK.
I have found some of my closest friends in the work environment and it is healthy to build positive and strong social bonds. But at the end of the day, a company has very different social dynamics than a family, the two should not be confused. The Silicon Valley approach of creating a “family” might work in the short term but surely backfires in the long term as times change and the organisation adapts.
A company can be generous towards the stakeholders, caring and attentive but needs to remain professional and always ready for change. All you should take away from this point is: “it’s OK if it’s not a family and it can still be a great place to be and grow together.”
Fairness by design trumps transparency
Treat all the stakeholders fairly.
Fairness, should be a guiding principle of company building. A company acting unfairly towards a certain stakeholder or category of stakeholders might gain in the short term but will definitely pay a high price in the long one. Fairness is strongly linked to transparency, transparency being the control mechanism that keeps people accountable for fairness. Fairness however trumps transparency as it is the guiding principle for all decisions.
Diversity and inclusion is an integral part of this.
Disagree, commit & trust
This one I stole from Amazon.
Allow to disagree but make sure the team commits on a decision and that everyone is aligned behind it. Also, trust is king in teams. And, trust that a team is competent and fair will decrease the need for heavy control structures. As a team grows it’s important one discusses topics but also that, once a decision is made, everyone moves into action without double guessing or micromanaging each other.
The culture rant is over for now but please do reach out if you have any comment!