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Building a Culture

Articulating what is a culture is not easy. The truth is, our culture is built on a solid foundation of values that dictates how people should act and, so long as the company embraces the values and uses them as guardrails, then decisions and other things just happen organically.

Peter Messana's headshoot
By Peter Messana - CEO

In interviews, I am often asked by candidates “What is the company culture?” This question is always a bit awkward and weird to me as articulating what is a culture is not easy. You are defining customs and norms, which from the inside just seems like day-to-day things that everyone does and how they do it.

The truth is, our culture is built on a solid foundation of values that dictate how people should act and, so long as the company embraces the values and uses them as guardrails, then decisions and other things just happen organically. The Searchspring culture page lays these values out nicely, but values are only words, it is how leaders follow them and lead by example that make them turn into the cultural norm.

Customers first

If decisions start by thinking about how each decision or thing affects the customer, then you are customer-first and your mentality will be grounded in ensuring you are making the right decisions for the right people, the customers.

Open by default 

Transparency is what builds trust and trust allows teams to work together better. Obviously, some things cannot be shared, but why hide needlessly? Those with a full understanding are more powerful.

Take time to be curious 

Learning allows you to grow and self-growth fuels us all. We stand behind this with a learning budget. This doesn’t stop with just formal learning, everyone should be curious and ask questions and in our organization, that means asking them in public slack channels so we all can learn from each other.

Treat everyone with respect

Individualization is important and respecting each person for their opinion and ideas is very important. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but you must respect everyone.

Fail fast and publicly

We want people to try new things and iterate, no one is perfect and making mistakes is an act of learning and if you share your learnings then we all become stronger.

Do it now 

Not everything has to be a project and all customers want answers so if possible answer the question or do the thing.

 

The real trick is that you cannot tell someone what to do or exactly how to act. Each office, each department, and each sub-team will have its own mini-culture. This is great and should be embraced so long as the same guardrails are in place and the company is beating to the same overall drum. We see this happening across six offices covering four countries where things are vastly different but yet oddly the exact same.

If you are looking for a good read I would suggest An Everyone Culture. It’s pretty radical but you can certainly glean tons of great ideas.