As a startup grows, so too does its culture. With a team that you could count on both hands until very recently, we've been talking a lot about how to best welcome folks and introduce them to the work we do. We have an evolving on-boarding process, which includes our very own on-boarding survey, of course. Without getting too pedagogical, we decided to interview those new to the team about their understanding of our mission - how we can make the world a better place to work.
Recently I sat down with Steven and Tim, Culture Amp’s newest People Geeks. These were my six culture questions for them.
What is a People Geek?
Steven: Breaking it down, it is someone that is passionate about working with people and helping organizations create ideal relationships.
Tim: People geeks know that individuals and their relationships are at the heart of everything we do, and get a special kind of joy — bordering on obsession — from thinking and talking about people and culture.
What surprised you most about the culture at Culture Amp?
Steven: Culture Amp embodies the type of culture I want to be associated with, a real GSD culture. We get things done, but not at the expense of quality. We are flexible, but not chaotic. We are hungry, but not desperate. Everything is well thought out, but delivery remains agile.
Tim: Definitely the Craig David obsession. Other than that, everyone here has great taste in music. More seriously, I’ve been impressed by the long-term thinking, introspection and commitment to building a solid, sustainable product, team, and business.
Do you have any startup culture idols?
Steven: Tony Hsieh, but any company that is brave enough to put their money where their mouth is and employ the Zappos Pay-to-Quit model. I have a lot of respect for people who are determined to foster their culture and seek ways of finding the people who are as committed to the cause as themselves.
Tim: I hesitate to use the word “idol” — there are a lot of people that I’ve learned from, but they’re all human, they’ve all made some mistakes, as we all do. I do particularly admire Biz Stone’s combination of ambition and humility.
What does workplace culture mean to you?
Steven: Workplace culture is a major draw card for companies in hiring, retaining and motivating employees. When people within the organization share the company’s vision, powerful things can happen. Creating an environment that motivates employees to do their best work allows the people to fulfill their role and the employer becomes the beneficiary. Workplace culture is a two way street.
Tim: Culture is all about what a group of people value — not just on paper, but in practice. It comes from the bottom up and the top down. Culture can be shaped, but not imposed or controlled. At its best, it is a collective motivation to do amazing things, but at its worst, it can be a set of unquestioned assumptions that close minds to outside possibilities.
What’s on your playlist this week?
Steven: Majestic Casual - Chapter 2 https://soundcloud.com/majesticcasual
Tim: As I write this, I’m listening to/watching the Boiler Room set by Zeitgeber, but other than that I’ve been listening a lot to Max Cooper, Nils Frahm, St. Vincent, and old David Bowie albums.
What was the best feedback (in your career) you’ve ever received and why?
Steven: “It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re the best at doing it” This piece of advice was given to me when I had made some contentious decisions, not only was it encouraging, it indicated that people were supportive of me despite not necessarily sharing my vision.
Tim: “Relax! Take a deep breath.” I have a bad tendency to get caught up in my work and frustrated when things don’t go perfectly. I got this advice from a program manager (at a previous job) who has an impressive way of cutting through the chaos and keeping a calm perspective, even when it seems like everything is falling apart. Whenever I feel stressed, I try to remember what she told me and imagine how she would handle the situation, and it always seems to go much better.