Want a strong company culture? Take out the trash.

 

Culture is a common buzz word among new and established organizations. It’s increasingly important in a startup to motivate employees to work the extra hours without the added benefits. It’s also the factor many companies rely on to attract and retain strong talent. But strangely enough some of the most successful companies don’t even consider culture, but rather stumble into it.

At Xconomy Xsite last week I heard a panel with some of Boston’s best known entrepreneurs commenting on how they fostered a positive company culture. Curiously they all agreed it was an afterthought since they were always focused on building their company. Instead they examined core values that they credit for the success of their organization.

Dharmesh Shah– CTO of Hubspot– He never considered culture until the organization got large enough that he had to actively seek to maintain it. He didn’t rely on overthought techniques but rather the finer details. For example, in the early Hubspot days they used to draw a lottery to determine who would sit where in the office. There was no special spots for the executives since they were all part of the same team. He recognized this and treated them all as such.

Gail Goodman– CEO of Constant Contact– Gail’s key culture driver? “The no asshole rule.” Her main objective in a potential hire was screening them to see if they were assholes. She asked them prying questions on their teamwork and if they always responded with “I’s” and “Me’s” instead of “We’s” and “Ours” she politely showed them the door.

Andy Ory- CEO of Acme Packet– Andy would interview every candidate before they joined his company. Seriously every single one. He made it a point to get to know each person and make sure they had the qualities he was seeking as a part of his organization. It’s a time intensive process, but one he credits for allowing him to have such a positive impact in his company.

Company culture shouldn’t be any one person’s responsibility. It should be a communal effort that naturally occurs when you bring great people in an environment. Think about it: Even if you had a party with a Jacuzzi, foosball and live music it would still suck if you didn’t invite fun people.

Focus on what matters: your work and your values. Only invite others that share them and don’t differentiate the management team with fancy perks. Have them be the leaders in the organization that work hard like everyone else, order the groceries and take out the trash. The rest of the team will notice and respect them more for it.

 This blog first appeared on Greenhorn Connect here.
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