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Workplace Culture

Talent and HR News Monthly Update: Culture & Thankfulness

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Talent and HR News Monthly Update: Culture & Thankfulness

From employee retention to fostering community to adding to brand image, there are clear benefits to establishing a strong, unified company culture. Showing gratitude in the office is one of the simplest yet most effective way to establish a positive culture. A simple expression of "thank you" helps boost morale among employees and the organization, increasing job satisfaction, productivity, and well-being. In this month’s roundup, we’ve curated five articles on how your company can encourage an inclusive workplace culture and why expressing gratitude can be key to your success.

Click here to read the full monthly round-up.

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Employer Brand and More

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Employer Brand and More

Here’s a mix of the latest news on employer brand, culture, employee referrals and more. Enjoy! 

1) Employer Branding Best Practices for Small Businesses and Startups from 42Hire

“One of the most overlooked challenges that small businesses and startups face as they experience growth is their ability to become competitive when looking for high quality employees. Many of these small businesses and startups are competing for the same talent as much larger, more established organizations, ranging from Enterprise level companies to established mid-sized businesses and other small businesses. While it’s hard enough to find the right person to fill a role, it becomes an even more daunting task when you are a relative unknown commodity in a hyper competitive market…”

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Employees Are Human Beings (and so are you)

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Employees Are Human Beings (and so are you)

When you left for work this morning, you probably grabbed a computer bag, a coffee, maybe even a lunch sack. Even if you work down the hall, you likely have a routine to start your work day. But whether you're walking in to your home office or one at company headquarters, there's one thing you can't forget. Yourself.

Whether we like or not, employees bring their whole selves to work. 

We bring our hobbies (my sweet potato casserole won first place in The Ritz-Carlton Thanksgiving cook-off one year), our relationships (ever had a co-worker go through a messy divorce?) and our values. I once had a friend who received a job offer from a company with strong religious ties and she debated heavily whether to take the job. There's a reason we call it human resources.

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Your Brand + Culture

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Your Brand + Culture

Company culture and employer brand are inextricably linked. A company culture is the foundation. It's what's accepted and what is not. An employer brand is the whole experience and the strengths you leverage to position your company among competitors. This week, we're sharing some pieces on both hot topics. Enjoy!

1) How Company Culture Drives Digital Transformation And Business Adaptability from Forbes

"I don’t think companies put enough stock in their cultures. Company culture is like an employee’s attitude; it will make or break you. Your company’s culture is a strong determining factor in its adaptability. We’ve established that the only constants in the future of business are change, agility, and the ability to pivot in response to market shifts—and that technology is essential to the success of a company. Your organizational attitude is marked by your business’s aptitude to change. Are you prepared for the future?"

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Motivating Employees with Time Off + Incentives

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Motivating Employees with Time Off + Incentives

At exaqueo, we strongly value the need to fully disconnect from work and recharge, so we provide a shared week off in both the Summer and Winter as a benefit for our team to enjoy. In the spirit of exaqueo’s upcoming Summer break, we’re sharing the latest news on motivating employees with time off and incentives. Enjoy!

1) We Gave Our Employees Fridays Off Paid and Now We Have an Amazing Team from Entrepreneur

“Taking Fridays off isn’t an extraordinarily new idea. Billionaires Carlos Slim and Larry Page have spoken publicly in support of shorter work weeks since 2014, but the idea has yet to catch on.

At many companies, in the San Francisco Bay area particularly, work perks are very entitlement-focused and thrown at employees like Frisbees -- team happy hours, free gym memberships, a fully stocked kitchen, logo-emblazed hoodies, an in-office ping-pong table. These perks were essentially non-existent a decade ago, but have now become so common that employees actually expect them, lessening their appreciation for them. We often hear company leaders soapbox about employee wellness and providing a work-life balance, but does throwing employees a free gym membership truly promote that?

A recent EY survey revealed that one-third of employees report that managing a work-life balance has become harder than ever. This leaves me to believe that today’s run-of-the-mill incentives do nothing to motivate employees. They simply create expectations (for what?) and waste company money. While several hyper-funded, successful companies go above and beyond to offer something unique -- vacation allowances, college tuition reimbursements and long-term paid parental leave -- only a select few actually give employees a true work-life balance; one that includes more time off.”

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The Impact of Remote Work on Your Employer Brand

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The Impact of Remote Work on Your Employer Brand

This past June, FlexJobs hosted the TRaD* Works (*Telecommuting, Remote, and Distributed) forum on remote work. Major brands gathered to discuss how to maximize remote work programs, covering topics such as recruitment, management, communication tools, branding, culture, challenges/benefits and ROI. Not surprisingly, we learned that more professionals and companies utilize remote work than ever before. The newest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data just reported that in 2015, 38% of workers in management, business, and finance did some or all of their work from home. And, many companies are realizing that in order to attract, engage and retain talent, most notably millennials, flexible work arrangements have to be a priority. Plus, it’s known that the more flexibility we give workers, the happier, the less stressed and more productive they will be - which will ultimately benefit the worker and company. That being said, there is a lot of pressure for companies to change their policies and keep up as fast as the rate technology is changing.

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Explore the Upside of Downtime: The State of American Vacation and Employee Engagement

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Explore the Upside of Downtime: The State of American Vacation and Employee Engagement

Project: Time Off recently released their latest report, The State of American Vacation 2016, which provides the most comprehensive look at America’s vacation habits to date. America is at a critical crossroads between taking vacation back or letting it go extinct. With the start of Summer, we wanted to share our insight into why this data is important and how companies can apply our Whole Self Model to influence change in the workplace, specific to employee engagement. Employee's lives outside of work, including vacation time off, are more important than you think. 

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Lean In Meets What to Expect: An Interview with Allyson Downey

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Lean In Meets What to Expect: An Interview with Allyson Downey

Our founder, Susan LaMotte, recently interviewed Allyson Downey, founder of weeSpring and author of Here's the Plan. Here's the Plan offers an inspiring roadmap for working mothers steering their careers through the parenting years. Ironically, Susan and Allyson have much in common -  both are entrepreneurs, MBAs, writers and mothers. In this honest interview, Allyson shares with Susan why having a plan is important for women to thrive in the workplace. This may just be the motivation new mothers need to keep shaking up—and changing—the world!

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Being Named a #1 Best Place to Work: What Happens Next

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Being Named a #1 Best Place to Work: What Happens Next

Every year, the top 100 companies are honored on FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. The accolade is meant to be a measure of pride, trust and camaraderie among employees. Most of the 400+ companies applying just want to land on the list. Some HR leaders I’ve met use the assessment solely as a means to measure and improve their employee engagement. Some use the assessment to offer enough third-party data to C-level executives to incite an overall culture shiftBut it’s the top 100 we’re talking about online and in the news. These are the companies with 92-98% of employees saying “My company is a great place to work.”  In 2010 and 2011 my company, SAS, achieved the greatest feat of all: we ranked #1.  So what happens when you get there?

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Culture + Talent: Q&A with Cathy Atkins from Metis Communications

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Culture + Talent: Q&A with Cathy Atkins from Metis Communications

We often sit down with leaders of growing businesses to get their take on culture and talent. I recently spoke with Cathy Atkins, co-founder of Metis Communications, a public relations and marketing firm. Cathy has more than 17 years of experience helping companies get in front of the right audiences at the right time. With a mission of “doing our best work ever,” Metis works closely with high-growth, emerging companies that need a true business partner to help them build influence and create measurable results. The “Metis way” is something the company’s team embodies daily, which Cathy hopes will have a long-lasting effect in redrawing the boundaries for PR and marketing.  Here’s what Cathy has to say about culture and talent at Metis.

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Office Space Design: Q&A with Anne Regan

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Office Space Design: Q&A with Anne Regan

The environment around you can greatly affect your mood and productivity. Think about days when you wake up to gray skies and endless rain. You have zero motivation to get out of bed. By contrast, when you wake up to the sun and 70 degrees, you have all the motivation in the world to get up and get moving. This translates to your work environment as well. You hear about new office spaces – like Facebook or Google – that are designed to motivate a desired behavior (be that creativity, innovation, collaboration, etc.) and reflect a company’s culture and brand. This is what Anne Regan does for a living – she designs office space as a Senior Manager at DBI Architects, which is a DC-based, full-service architecture and interior design firm.

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Using Vacation Policy to Promote Your Culture & Brand

Your company culture and your employer brand can be pulled through to any part of your organization that touches your employees, including a vacation policy. A company’s vacation policy, and how you promote it, can say a lot about your culture and brand.  The spectrum is broad – from no vacation for the first year of employment to unlimited vacation. Some industries – such as the financial industry – require two weeks (to be taken all at once) for legal reasons. Some companies opt to make their vacation policies unique to their company. Here are a few examples of different vacation policies that connect with the culture: Netflix: Netflix’s culture of “freedom and responsibility” is pulled through to so many different parts of the employment experience. Its vacation policy is no different, allowing unlimited vacation as long as employees get their work done.

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The Value of Culture and Employer Brand in High Turnover Industries

Over the weekend, I was explaining what I do to a few friends. In describing what we do, I emphasized the need for strong company culture, employer brand, and talent strategy because these elements of a business affect the bottom line in the long run. By not caring about these things, companies risk high turnover, among other consequences. Costing between 25% and 250% of a single employee’s annual salary, high turnover has a profound effect on the bottom line.  While explaining this to my friend, he asked, “is there ever a time when turnover is good?” I had to think about this one for a bit. According to Software Advice, new employees who replace those who left can bring new ideas; however, high turnover is traditionally thought of as a negative indicator. That said, there are some industries where turnover inevitably is, and likely always will be, high. For example, retail, food service, or customer service are all industries with high turnover. These jobs consist of a workforce that is typically compensated on an hourly basis. 

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Do millennials fit your company culture?

I am a (older) milliennial. So that means I’m adaptable, enthusiastic, entrepreneurial, a multitasker...as well as lazy, entitled, and a job hopper. I’d say some of those traits ring true to me personally. I also know some Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who have some of these tendencies too. A recent study showed that millennials prefer being physically present in the workplace versus telecommuting. This could also be true for most extroverts (who make up 50-74 percent of the population), regardless of age.

Yes, I’m a millennial because I fit within the age demographic. I am also female, am one of four children (shared the middle), grew up in Buffalo (go Sabres!), and started working at 15 (shout out to my first W-2 provider, Fowler’s). I think those aspects of my life also influenced my work ethic and preferences, in addition to the year I was born. I also hardly think I have similar wants and needs as someone 10 years younger than me (also a millennial).

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Startup Culture: Q&A with Trupanion’s Darryl Rawlings

Dog A recent Wall Street Journal blog post talked about the fight for talent at startups. The blogger, Neil Blumenthal (Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Warby Parker), said, “The first step toward finding the right people is to have a deep understanding of your company’s identity.” This couldn’t be more true.

Darryl Rawlings, CEO of Trupanion (a pet insurance company whose mission is to help pets receive the best veterinary care possible), believes this to be true as well. Continuing with our Q&A series with startup leaders, today I’m sharing Mr. Rawlings  views on startup culture in his growing company and the role of Trupanion’s identity in hiring talent.

exaqueo: Does your company have a stated set of cultural values?

Darryl Rawlings, Trupanion (DR): Yes. They are: 1. We do what we say; 2. Simple is better (which is why we have one simple pet insurance plan); 3. Do not punish unlucky pets (meaning pet owners and their pets do not get punished with fees, restrictions, etc. for making claims. We want them to make claims! That’s what we’re here for!); 4. Do not be insurance-like. Be innovative and fair; 5. and We love our pets! And if you don’t, it was nice meeting you; however, you’re not a good fit for our company.

exaqueo: Can you describe your corporate culture in three words?

DR: Original, Fun, Passionate.

exaqueo: When you have made an effort to understand and strengthen your culture, what did you learn the most?

DR: I learned that the stronger the culture, the happier the team. And the happier the team, the happier they’ll make your clients.

exaqueo: What have you learned about the importance of culture that you can apply to the work you do for your clients?

DR: In my business it’s extremely important for every team member from the bottom to the top to be passionate about pets. Their passion for pets makes them passionate for clients pets. When you care about your work like we do, you do better work.

exaqueo: How do you manage having the right talent to meet rapid growth?

DR: When you’re growing as rapidly as we are, you don’t just find good leaders; you find leaders who will strive to create other leaders. Team work is important too, we only hire team players. We’re constantly on the lookout and keeping our eyes peeled for good talent. We spread the word about our company and network our tails off. It’s paid off over the years as we’re getting more people excited about our company and wanting to work with us. It helps our recruiters with candidates knocking on our doors versus the other way around.

exaqueo: Why does talent + culture fit matter?

DR: For Trupanion, the talent absolutely has to fit our culture (pet-friendly culture) or they simply won’t be able to fully understand the value we are offering pet owners. You don’t get the same high quality work from workers who don’t fit well. Quality is low and that worker’s future opportunities in the company are low too because they simply don’t fit our values. When I was raising capital for Trupanion, I brought a variety of big hitters into a room together. I asked them all to raise their hand if they had a pet. For those without their hands raised, I asked them to leave, because unfortunately, they just won’t get what we do. And I made them leave. I require everyone who joins our Board of Directors to own a pet.

Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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What Company Cultures Can Learn From Freemasons

Harry Houdini. Henry Ford. John Wayne. Winston Churchill. My grandpa. What's the common bond? They were all Freemasons. From fraternities and Freemasons to the Girl Scouts or Rotary, membership really does have its privileges: belonging. We join groups, teams, clubs and even companies to feel a part of something. A community or camaraderie. That's what culture really is: specific rules and attributes that define who you are and how things work. The rules of the road, the community norms. The way we exist. It's what makes strong cultures strong.

The Freemasons began as a guild in the 1700s for stonemasons and then evolved to a social organization full of ritual and rites of belonging. Historically, the rituals drove conspiracies which in turn drove attention and ultimately membership. At its height in 1939, the Freemasons had 4 million members. 

Today, still boasting a membership of over one million members, the Freemasons continue to welcome new recruits into their culture. They don't actively solicit new members--you'll need a referral--and you'll have to check off a few boxes:  men only, above 18, good character and belief in a supreme being (it doesn't matter which one but no atheists allowed).  And that's about all I know for sure because the rest is a secret.

There's a reason ritual, secrecy and tradition matter here. It's called culture. And if your organization wants a strong one, you're better off to learn from an organization that's been in existence for 800 years over hot brands with track records of less than a few decades. Here are six ways you can strengthen your culture Freemason-style:

1) Get people interested in your culture and keep them interested.

While membership in the Freemasons has ebbed and flowed over the years, they've found a way to stay relevant. For modern men, the Dan Brown books did the trick. For modern organizations, they have to stay vocal and relevant to drive interest. That means regular content, and insight where possible into what makes you special and unique.

2) Be clear about what it takes.

While most companies wax poetic about the incredible career opportunities or company culture, they avoid being upfront about how they recruit and who they recruit. Freemasons are clear on qualifications, how to recruit, and who to talk to about membership. Direct connection with a member gives you an immediate, personal, offline culture connection.

3) Show a commitment to your community.

When you create a culture you have to demonstrate no matter how elite or special it is, you care about the larger world that allows your culture to exist. You can't shut yourself off. Freemasons donate an average of $2 million to charity. Every day.

4) Make it special.

Freemasons have secrets.They have closed meetings. Not anyone can become a member. And when you do, you have to keep what's secret, secret.  There's something special that provides a certain allure. And when you're in, it's that sense of belonging.  Same thing goes for organizations with strong cultures. They care about how they welcome you and give you benefits only members have. That gold mason's ring that belonged to my grandpa? My dad had it melted down since he couldn't wear it.

5) Make it accessible.

Great cultures aren't elitist. Freemasons come in all colors and creeds. And they ban conversations on divisive topics like religion and politics. It's not about being better than someone or something else. It's about being a part of something bigger. Accessible, but you have to really want it and make the effort. Organizations with great cultures don't give job offers after one paltry interview. Both sides need to truly flesh out fit.

6) Be consistent.

Every company has a vague list of values on the wall. How many can say they have practiced those same values and have rites of tradition lasting 800+ years? You may not want to develop extensive ritualistic practices but you can develop work rules to show how your culture manifests itself in the business.  Align traditions for work and play -- and don't abandon them. Make cultural norms crystal clear and long-lasting.

Like any culture, the Freemasons have rabid fans and detractors.  And for most modern-day companies, look no further than Glassdoor to find the same.  This isn't an endorsement or a criticism--we can learn similar lessons from many long-lasting religious groups, political parties and local clubs.  It's about understanding what drives long-lasting culture, that sustains and aligns.

Find what defines your organization--what you live by, how you exist, and the constancy that will ensure your business is around in 2714. Then live it, practice it, and hire to it. Don't you want to leave job opportunities for your great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren?

Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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The Physical Candidate Experience and Your Employer Brand

Just a few of the candles I bought from Anthropologie While I do adore online shopping and its convenience, I don’t think I could give up an afternoon of walking into physical retail shops – feeling the clothes, smelling the perfumes, or testing out make-up – it’s part of the experience that stimulates the senses.

Part of what makes me enter into some stores and not others is the physical experience. Some stores have thought of everything, and I get a warm feeling when I go into them. That’s just what they want. You make judgments and form opinions on the experiences you have when you eat at restaurants, stay at hotels, or go to a football game. Candidates are making those same judgments and forming those same opinions when they enter your offices for a day of interviewing.

The candidate experience has many different components – I’m just going to focus this post on the physical candidate experience - the experience a candidate has when he/she visits an office for interviews. It’s the first face-to-face, physical contact they likely have with your employer brand, and it’s an important one.

Back to my shopping analogy – a great example of experiential shopping is Anthropologie. The very first thing you see are the window displays –unique and elaborate. You’re instantly intrigued. The moment you walk through the doors, you’re hit with the powerful smell of their scented candles, a sweet- but not too sweet- floral, feminine scent (I even bought one so my apartment could smell like the store). You feel like you’re in someone’s living room with the way the products are displayed. They don’t appear to be set out to be purchased, rather they are casually draped on tables like a cozy blanket thrown over the back of a couch.

This store isn’t for everyone. Some people hate the smell and would not dream of owning quirky measuring spoons or $200 satin shorts, but it’s appealing to a certain demographic--just like great recruiting should. The shopping experience reflects the brand. It’s selling a lifestyle, not just products.

It’s proven that brand experience increases customer loyalty. That same notion can be applied to the candidate experience. A candidate walks into your building, nervous, unsure what the day will bring. Every step he takes inside your building… every person he interacts with…every gesture that is given to him…he is making a judgment on whether he would fit in at your company. If that’s true, does it reflect your employer brand and the culture you live everyday?

I once heard of a college admissions office baking chocolate chip cookies right in the office to give to applicants who were interviewing. Genius idea! A nervous 17 -year old kid who is about to experience one of the most important interviews of his life walks into the admissions office…and smells chocolate chip cookies - the quintessential food and smell that oozes comfort. That’s just the emotion you want to evoke in that situation – you want them to feel at home.

Think about treating your candidates like customers and stimulating their senses when they enter into the doors of your company to reflect your brand.

Editor's note: for more information on how to strengthen your candidate experience, consider learning from applying for the Candidate Experience Awards.

Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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Cultivating a Culture of Feedback

  It’s that time of year where you reflect on what worked and what didn’t in the previous year, and you begin to think about what’s ahead of you in this next year. This is the perfect time for feedback, formally or informally.

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Or is it? Is there a reason we look at a new year as a clean slate? I do it too. I indulge from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day and then decide January 1 will be the day I start fresh.

There are plenty of articles out there advising on the delivery of feedback and its art form. These are extremely helpful because giving feedback, especially constructive, is a difficult conversation. What I’m imparting here is making feedback a mindset. If you want to cultivate a culture of feedback to engage employees and enhance productivity, there are 3 overarching elements to incorporating it, and it doesn’t mean just at performance review time.

Frequent

Feedback should not be reserved for the performance review. Managers should be offering it, and employees should be seeking it…often. High performing teams conduct a feedback routine called a Hot Wash after every major event to evaluate performance. Derived from the U.S. Army, "the term Hot Wash comes from the practice used by some soldiers of dousing their weapons in extremely hot water as a means of removing grit and residue after firing…One infantry soldier described it as ‘the quick and dirty cleaning that can save a lot of time later.’” (Source: US Department of Defense Education Activity).

Instead of waiting until the end of year, feedback should be provided frequently as a way to constantly adjust and save time in the long run. Startups use this concept with their products – obtaining constant feedback and tweaking as the market responds. Why not use this with your people?

Honest

Over the holidays, a friend shared that he was frustrated with his company’s review process. Throughout the year, he received very positive feedback and then at the end of the year - the time where it counts the most for bonus distribution – he received some negative feedback that impacted his bonus. He was actively seeking it out, and willing to work on his shortcomings, but he had no awareness. His managers were not doing him any favors by sugarcoating their feedback throughout the year.

Understood

Oftentimes feedback can be misconstrued. It’s not fun to be told you aren’t doing something well. You feel judged, scolded, and wrong. But if someone knew where the feedback was coming from, it may change how she receives it. I worked at a company where feedback was ingrained in the culture. During my interview, an employee explained that “feedback is love.” How refreshing! I knew that when someone offered me feedback, it was because they cared about me and wanted me to improve. And when I was on the delivery end of constructive feedback, the person receiving it would understand that I was genuinely looking out for her. You wouldn’t hesitate to tell your friend that she has ketchup on her chin so that she doesn’t embarrass herself, so why wouldn’t you tell a colleague that she takes on too much to please everyone. It’s not passing judgment, it’s making someone aware of areas that can vastly improve her life. Working in a company that had this openness was freeing. I never felt judged or wrong. I felt cared for and free to take risks.

Regardless of the type of culture you have, formal or informal, feedback is something that everyone deserves, and it should be frequent, honest, and understood.

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Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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Startup Culture: Q&A with SocialRadar's Michael Chasen

Let’s face it, culture’s hot right now. From Zappos and Netflix to Hubspot and Google, founders are eager to create their own manifestos and espouse a cool culture. I’m constantly reminding clients that it takes more than a list of values to create a culture. The values have to become part of the everyday of your organization. And that means you have to hold employees accountable for them. At exaqueo, we call them work rules. It’s how our clients go beyond a list of core values and cool perks to a culture that really sustains. As founders, sustainability is the model we should be emulating. So I’m always seeking founders who are making that happen–creating a culture that lives, breathes and sustains. This week, I caught up with one founder who’s doing just that.

Michael Chasen is the founder and CEO of SocialRadar and former founder and CEO of Blackboard, Inc. SocialRadar aggregates existing social data to better connect users in real-time, in real places. With almost $13 million in funding earlier this year, SocialRadar’s growing fast. That’s where culture comes in, and Michael knows the importance of getting it right, now.

Susan LaMotte, exaqueo (SL): Does your company have a stated set of cultural values?

Michael Chasen, Social Radar (MC): Indeed, and we worked hard to create it. An introduction to our culture.

SL: When you made the effort to understand and strengthen your culture, what did you learn the most?

MC: When we started the company, we knew that culture was going to be an important component of a successful team and product. We didn’t leave our culture to chance; instead we called upon various influences to establish it and put it in writing for all on board to refer to. It’s one thing to say that teamwork is important, but it’s another to operationalize the company to support that—for example, we have fixed “work late nights” and team outings. In other words, we have both scheduled group overtime and scheduled group fun time. We offer perks such as gym membership, healthy dinners on work late nights, and general flexibility with hours to show our commitment to a work-life balance.

SL: That’s so true–you have to have examples of the values in practice to make them come alive.  What will you do to grow the company you want to grow?

MC: If you build it, they will come, right? We are pouring our energy into fine-tuning a product that is not only cool but ultimately indispensable. Even our marketing team would admit that word of mouth can be more powerful than any planned campaign...

…continue reading the rest of this post over on Tech Cocktail where it was originally posted.

Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce strategy that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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The Path to Startup Culture: Q&A With Raoul Davis

Raoul DavisI saw another post today touting the great culture of a company and showcasing the office space. That's great, but a cool office does not make a culture alone. A culture is a set of values and norms that define the behavior of an organization. Sure. perks and cool chairs can be an extension of that, but you have to start with what you believe. Today we continue our series on companies not only passionate about culture but making the effort to pull that through. Our goal is to show you talent not only matters but can be the difference between success or stagnation.  This week I connected with Raoul Davis, the CEO of Ascendent Group. Raoul's on a mission to amplify the message of socially conscious firms led by visionary CEOs.  

Susan LaMotte, exaqueo (SL): You're in the business of people everyday. But can you describe your corporate culture in three words?

Raoul Davis, Ascendent Group (RD): Highly effective and human.

SL: Simple and clear--important for future employees to understand if they fit with your organization. I know it hasn't been easy, but when you have made an effort to understand and strengthen your culture, what did you learn the most?

RD: That people are resistant to change. Culture shifts take time 6-18 months to be exact and it is a continual process that has to be beaten into the culture. Just when you think it is going smooth you've got to further emphasize things again. Building a culture by design is a process, however; it is sure better than having a culture by default.

SL: Speaking of employees, what are the first three things you first notice about an employee?

RD: Their demeanor, willingness to contribute, and overall attitude.

SL: And how do you manage having the right talent to meet rapid growth?

RD: Don't limit your geographic area. Hire based on your cultural pillars and hire slowly.

SL: What have you learned about the importance of culture that you can apply to the work you do for your clients?

RD: That if you build culture then you give your clients a consistent experience. When you have people fall outside of the culture it creates a bumpy experience and creates unease with the clients.

SL: Tell me about a time you felt company leadership went wrong. What did you do?

RD: I'm actually going through a period now where I assumed the culture was fully embedded however I learned that isn't the case. So we are about to shrink to get things more focused and so I can spend more time on ensuring we have the right things happening. Also you have to accept that when there is a leadership issue the person to look at is the one in your mirror. When your team fails don't point the finger. Figure out what you can do better to help them continue to mature. Entrepreneurship isn't easy, people make mistakes; even the most well intentioned and experienced people make errors. Prepare to have some grace but at times you'll have to adjust or fire quickly. 

SL: So at the end of the day, why does talent + culture fit matter?

RD: You can have a bunch of high performers and not win the championship. Just ask the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers or most of the NY Yankees teams over the past ten years. Despite consistently having one of the most highest payrolls in professional sports [they] have only won one championship. A team has to come together, be cohesive, and all work in the same direction with egos being put aside for the greater good. It takes culture to do that. Without culture by design you get culture by default and that doesn't win championships.

Raoul Davis is the CEO of Ascendent Group help mid size leading companies increase their top line revenue through a unique process called CEO branding. We help the CEO increase their visibility through PR, speaking engagements, book deals, social media, and strategic networking directly in front of their target audience. Learn more about Ascendent Group.

Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

 

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