Sunday, May 27, 2012

Rethinking Company Culture

It appears that the idea of a "company culture" and or hiring for "culture and fit" are all the rage among start up companies and it needs to be a more pressing  priority for most established companies.

But, we need to rethink, exactly what we mean when we use terms such as "culture" and "fit."

All companies have a "culture" and anytime people come together a "culture" will develop rather quickly.  Regardless of what is the stated company culture the reality is real company culture does not "trickle down" but rather bubbles up.

One of the greatest achievement of the United States was that we became a "melting pot" for a variety of different cultures of the individuals that migrated to this country; thus companies should be thinking about recreating the melting pot experience rather than trying to establish cultural ghettos.

Can your corporate culture accommodate this (courtesy of Emily Merkle):
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
                                                                              - Steve Jobs

Wouldn't it be an awesome experience to manage and lead such a group of people?!

The reality is that using "culture and fit" as a guidepost in hiring really is nothing more than attempting to "clone" employees.  If one believes that their company is truly unique and that it takes a special kind of person to be successful in one's company then realistically you are not going to find "fit" but rather you will have to nurture it.  Management is about nurturing; its dealing with the unknowns of individuals and the disruption, or dynamics, of the work environment.

Our goal of building awesome companies and or organizations is to realize that we want to hire people who will have an impact on the company culture.  What would New York City look like if everyone "fit" the city culture; would it be as vibrant and dynamic?  Too much of an emphasis on "culture and fit" will not create the vibrancy and dynamics of a New York City but rather the staid and tradition bound culture of "Mayberry R.F.D." 

In regards to employees, we want to create a positive collective experience, we want employees to know that they can make a difference, regardless of their job duties, and that the concept of "empowering" naturally includes "diversity."  

If you catch yourself focusing on "culture and fit" you might find yourself eventually with a company and or organization that has  a "herd mentality."  All companies have "values" both stated and unstated.  The key is to ensure that that gap between what are the stated values and the unstated values is kept to a minimum; this can be measured by employee morale.


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