I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I know I have to master something new I just wish someone would tell me the three most important things I needed to know, and skip the doctoral dissertation. Culture management is something that to a certain degree we all do already, but few people are used to using data and analytics to assist in culture management.
A little over a year ago we wrote an article about how there are no bad company cultures. We argued that cultures are good or bad depending on the specific person, but that culture were not objectively bad or good. A year later, with much more experience and much more data on company cultures across industries and business verticals, we can safely argue that this is still the case.
Culture is About People Company culture is a vague term that everyone seems to intuitively understand, but few define concretely. At the most basic level culture cannot exist without people. So the foundation of any culture is how a company chooses and retains its people. Hiring the right people is about much more than just […]
If you’ve worked at a large company, you’ve probably had the experience of being told what your company culture is, and my guess is that it rubbed you the wrong way. Often times it begins as a brand realignment where leadership teams get together and brainstorm the mission and vision of the company. This gets translated into values, which are thrown into a presentation and presented to employees. There’s just one problem with this approach. Those values don’t actually represent the culture of the company.
For every article we read about how important company culture is we also read an article concerned that by strengthening culture, companies are also creating homogenous employee populations devoid of diversity. These concerns are very real and justified. As a technology company based in San Francisco, we think about diversity every day whether we choose to or not.
Everyone wants to have a great company culture, but to do this you must first strive to create an authentic company culture. Chances are if you are thinking about great cultures you are tuned into the fact that culture drives employee performance, job satisfaction, and turnover. But very few people really get into the details of what it means to have a great culture.
Amazon is never going to be perceived as having a warm and fuzzy culture because that is not what they have cultivated. Attempts to repaint Amazon’s culture with a brush that highlights fun feels inauthentic… Company culture isn’t a popularity contest, it’s not about appealing to everyone. You want your culture to appeal to the type of people you need to execute your strategy.
At Pomello, we get to peel back the marketing exteriors of companies and peer into the underlying data of what it’s like to actually work there. We measure company culture and make predictions about things like performance, turnover, and employee happiness. As part of YC’s Winter 2015 class, many of our batchmates and the partners helped us out in developing our product by creating company profiles. Aggregating data across our YC class and comparing it to data from our broader customer base highlighted a couple of themes that we found fascinating.
Here is a quick and dirty culture hack for team leaders that care about building a cohesive team culture, and informing that culture through data. As a manager, you are responsible for leading your team by communicating through actions what is valued and rewarded on your team. Doing this consistently can be hard because it isn’t a discrete task. It is a part of everything you do from leading meetings to 1:1s, to coffee chats. The impact of doing this well however is so big that it is well worth it to spend some time thinking about how to do it well. Here’s Pomello’s 3-step hack to help you figure out if you are doing a good job.
There is no absolute right or wrong culture. Love them or hate them companies like Amazon and Google have both accomplished tremendous things while also cultivating dramatically different cultures. I’d venture to guess that the leadership of both companies is keenly aware of the value of their human capital. The right culture is the one that attracts the right people to your company, one that keeps those people there, and one that respectfully lets people go when they aren’t the right fit.