Human Resources Today

Viewing entries tagged
culture-fit

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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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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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Culture Defined: Client Q&A with ORS Partners

photo3Every startup knows that culture is important, but it often takes a pivotal moment, challenge or obstacle for founders and leadership teams to realize it's time to focus.  We're so busy shipping code, getting product out the door or sourcing new customers we forget that it's people building the business. We love helping clients come to this realization, and ORS Partners was no different.  An outsourced recruiting solutions firm based outside Philadelphia, PA, ORS has energized employees and a strong growth trajectory. But they had the moment--the realization that if they didn't harness the energy now, their growth wouldn't happen in an aligned, bottom-line-driving way.

I sat down with exaqueo client Kate Brewer, ORS Partners' Marketing Manager to talk about why they decided to finally focus on culture and the results of their business-changing process.

Susan LaMotte, exaqueo: What was the driver for a renewed focus on culture at ORS Partners?

Kate Brewer, ORS: Eighteen months into our existence as a company, we were – are – growing rapidly and onboarding new people every month, but needed to define who we are and what our mission is. We had been “running and gunning” as a start-up organization, but needed to take a step back as a leadership team and make sure our employees knew what direction we are headed. We had to put clarity around our business and what we stand for.

SL: When you made the effort to understand and strengthen your culture, what was your biggest learning?

KB: Our leadership team realized that we all understood and we could articulate our Mission, Vision, and Values, but we failed to communicate them effectively to our team. We knew our employees possessed all the qualities needed for success, but we realized we needed to better communicate the larger plan to make sure every employee felt engaged and empowered to do so. With a clear Mission, Vision, and set Values we are able to articulate our goals and tie all of our initiatives back to our core values.

SL: You're in the business of helping others hire. What have you learned about the importance of culture that you can apply to the work you do for your clients? 

KB: Culture-fit is everything. No matter how many credentials a candidate may have, if they do not mesh with company culture, they will not be successful long-term. We have always preached to our clients that they hire ORS to not hire candidates, just as much as they hire ORS to hire candidates. Our consultants are trained to identify culture-fit – one of first steps in client onboarding is for our consultants to learn and understand client culture and assimilate.

SL: ORS will continue to grow in the coming year. As you do your own hiring, based on what you learned, what kind of employees are most successful in the ORS culture?

KB: Through this exercise we have found that our employees are self-motivated individuals who thrive on watching their client companies achieve talent acquisition success with their support. Even more so, ORS employees are team players – we are not recruiters on an island, but members of a large team backed by leadership and account management, a strong sourcing center, an employee led learning and development platform, and a toolkit of resources and technologies that help us reach success more efficiently and effectively.

SL: How does culture fit affect recruiting? Now that you've defined the ORS culture more clearly, how will that enable you to hire more effectively?

KB: As all good professionals in our industry know, recruiting is more than matching a candidate’s skillset to a job description. ORS Partners recruitment consultants are helping clients attract the right talent that will help their businesses grow and develop. Essentially, ORS Partners is a company building business… and without understanding culture fit, we would not be able help take our client companies to the next level with the addition of human capital. Businesses succeed when the right group of people with the right personalities and right skills work together to create products, services, and solutions. Now that we have defined our own culture more clearly, we believe we will be able to hire the right group of people with the right skills – with personalities and goals that complement the organization’s characteristics and goals – to take our business to the next level.

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exaqueo is a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us 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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ORS Partners, LLC is a provider of Outsourced Recruiting Solutions (ORS), and is comprised of top professional recruiters hired to build and scale emerging growth, middle-market, and venture-backed companies along with Fortune 1000 companies.

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