You worked hard brainstorming your company values, hours of meetings, days of discussion with core stakeholders, and finally you get a handful of things that define who You are as a Corporate Person. A list of words or concepts, about how fun and unique and valuable your business culture is! It’s easy to pay lip service to these values, point at a sign on the wall, and say “This is what We are!” but Do they do more than just sound nice? Do those values actually lead to success? Is your culture actually distinct from the culture outside your walls?
You might say you value “Togetherness” or “Teamwork” but what do you mean? You’re together in the same room, or under the same roof, or at least have the same person signing all your checks. You work together to achieve a common goal, but that’s the nature of the job. Are you acting like a team? How do your communicate? Communication isn’t just calling a meeting to recite sales numbers and give the latest roadmap update, it’s a two-way street where every member of the team is offered a chance to participate, and individual contributions recognized. Not only should everyone have a chance to speak, nobody should be unable or afraid to ask question or dissent — nobody should be feel bullied or humiliated.
You may choose to value “Working Smart” or “Innovation,” good. So does everyone else. How are you smarter or more innovative? Are your human resources being supported to make smarter more innovative choices? What, exactly, is being done that makes You special? What are you doing to improve your processes, hone your marketing and sales chops, perfect the method behind making your core product, file down the sharp edges and reduce internal friction? Ambition isn’t so much stress as it is trying harder and experiencing individual growth. When a team grows together it creates a bond, can your on-boarding procedure replicate that? If you’re doing the same exact thing you did two years ago and getting the similar results you’re probably not growing and certainly not innovating.
Try as you might to dictate your culture it’s probably not going to work, you actually have to live it. Your company’s culture is a conglomerate of each employee’s individual talents and personalities, including your own. How do you pass that on? Who in your organization is a catalyst? You can try to hire based on ‘culture fit’ or some semblance of who you are and who your employees should be - but you absolutely need to nurture your culture and perpetuate it, be a model for your company to follow. When an undefined and undefended “cultural fit” is your only hiring metric you risk only going to get one type of employee.
Evaluating the institution involves many more questions, but I’d argue these few are most important: Is there a real opportunity to make a positive impact? If so, is the team equal to the challenge, or (more likely) on the path to getting there? Is there a possibility of surviving as a standalone entity - this is almost impossible to know ex ante, but if the stated goal is to get acquired that should tell you something. Do they have a real mission and culture, or just hedonism and homogeneity? Do they invest in an individual’s growth, or just increased productivity?
- The Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture
- Company Culture is Not Just Listing Core Values
- You Can’t Dictate Culture — but You Can Influence It
- Debunking Five Myths of Corporate Culture
- Your corporate values are bullshit
I’m publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. You can join in yourself by visiting https://100daystooffload.com