“It’s all about personal development,” says Qiigo CEO Rick Batchelor of his approach to cultural management. “What works for them, what do they want, where do they see themselves in 12, 24, 36 months, and then help them make a plan to grow toward that.”
Kevin Clark is pulled in a lot of different directions these days: having joined digital knowledge SaaS company Synup less than a year ago, he’s trying to hire lots of new employees, he’s in charge of business logistics on which he’s not necessarily an expert, and his boss might call him at any moment.
“Younger employees are increasingly looking for mission-driven approaches in their work,” says Bryan Leach, founder and CEO of Ibotta. “They want to go someplace where they will get better and have someone to help them become the best version of themselves.”
In one year, digital search company Pointy has grown from 13 to about 30 employees, moved into a new office, and seen significant growth in its product, which allows retailers to publishes their inventories online, attracting potential customers nearby. What hasn’t changed much is the company’s culture, says co-founder Mark Cummins.
“How we view mistakes is you admit it, you learn very quickly, and then turn it around,” says Sitter.me CEO and co-founder Kristen Stiles. After quoting a client a wrong price, Stiles owned up to the error, and the company develop a new procedure to ensure similar stakes would not be made again.
After three years reporting on “Street Culture,” Street Fight looks back on five ways that company leaders are making their company culture stand out—and some of the best pieces of advice for doing the same at your business.
“Introducing [new employees] to the culture has been very important; it’s important that the people we hire are growth-oriented,” PacketZoom co-founder Chetan Ahuja says. “We want them to already be useful to the business, but their main goal is to grow and to grow with the company. They’re much more valuable that way.”
“We want people who have historically been lucky. People who have demonstrated the ability to go out and create their own luck,” CEO Michael Katz says. “People who are curious, who engage and ask questions and generally listen, [who are] not just waiting for a pause in the conversation. “
Getting rid of job titles and helping people detach from job titles are two of the biggest challenges around refocusing a company on its culture and its values, CTO John Schnipkoweit says. At Choozle, the culture is focused around the product it is creating, and allowing that product to drive the company.
“It’s really important that [staff] understand how their work contributes to the company objective, rather than just being busy and doing things and not knowing whether it has an impact on the company goals and outcomes,” says the company’s CEO, Ian O’Rourke .
Street Culture: Female Leaders at Main Street Hub Highlight Group Dynamics and Diversity in Communication
At marketing automation and CRM company Main Street Hub, the product engineering team has grown from six people to 30 in three years. The entire company employs more than 500 people, so in the product, engineering, and design department, the leadership is proud of the diversity and success they have achieved.
Hooch isn’t hiring right now, but they expect to ramp up technology and data positions in fall 2017. Dai says his secret to hiring is to be brutally honest about the challenges and struggles of working at startup.
“The argument is, build a large company to be insanely great and change the world, right?” says CEO Jon Fisher. “As we operationalize the financial part, the path to making a real contribution in the world can be formulaic.”
A spinoff company from a larger mothership might already have culture built in. At Conichiwa, a Berlin-based proximity agency and beacon company, that’s not quite what is happening.
The company’s mission is to build a new operating system for the physical world, and to get there the team needs zero bullshit. Culture is far too important to leave to chance, says John Cieslik-Bridgen, Estimote’s VP of culture. But it’s also important to allow natural evolution.
Starting your own tech company often comes with a painful side effect, says Joshua Enders, managing partner of client success at digital commerce company Six Vertical: “It’s an absolute grind. It’s like getting punched in the stomach multiple times a day,” Enders says. “I’m speaking from experience.”
Environment, talent, and process all encourage the growth of innovation, according to IT research firm CEB, which was recently acquired by Gartner. But there’s a balancing act that must take place between structure and exploration — especially for smaller companies on a fast upward growth curve.
“We are a company that values transparency,” says the company’s CEO, Antonio Tomarchio. “Every month we present to all the people across the company everything that’s going on. I believe that not only it’s the right thing to do, but also that it’s always the best long-term strategy for success.”