Would you hire an employee who has skills you desperately need but doesn’t fit into your company’s culture?
I posted this question a few days ago to on Linkedin, and received several insightful answers. There was a general consensus that hiring an employee who fits your company’s culture is extremely important—perhaps even more than their skill.
But let’s back up a second. What exactly do I mean by culture?
When most people think “culture,” they think free babysitting, regular barbeques, and ping-pong tables. Now, at Ptex Group, we don’t have all those things (unless you count our conference room table which has, on occasion, been turned into a ping-pong table—but I digress). We DO, however, have a great culture.
A workplace culture can incorporate fun, but culture itself is serious.
It’s the core values that guide everything we do as a company, from top-level decisions to our interactions with our colleagues and clients. A good culture means implementing values that enable employees to thrive. And while there’s no magic formula, you know its working when it results in a happy, empowered, mission-driven team—and loyal customers.
Simon Sinek said it well: “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”
Dovid Preil’s comment on my post hit the nail on the head:
“A company is more than processes and products: it’s a synergy of the team using these processes to drive innovation and deliver results. Any trade-off in that synergy needs to be weighed in the gain of the desperately needed skills.”
“Seems unfortunate to have to risk a good thing in order to grow (although it is, sometimes, necessary).”
And that’s where I disagree.
I would argue that no matter how you “weigh” it, culture always wins. That in order for the culture to work, it must be non-negotiable.
We must be willing to commit to our core values—which means we must be willing to hire and fire based on them.
No exceptions. Even if we’re desperate for the skills they offer; even if we face pressure from competitors or stakeholders; even if the temptation to hire is great. The damage that can result is not worth it.
When a business creates an environment that allows its employees to thrive, everyone thrives: Employees, leaders, shareholders, and customers.
Yet it’s important to remember that a good culture doesn’t happen by accident. It takes work. It takes you, as a leader, dedicating time to work on your culture.
With this in mind, here are a few Ptex Practical Pointers that will ensure your business is a great place to work:
1. Decide on your core values.
Your culture stems from your core values, the guiding principles and beliefs that form the foundation of your business and guide every team member’s actions. If you don’t already have a written list of your core values, take time out of your schedule to develop them. (For ideas, you can check out ours.)
2. Walk the walk.
Your core values and company culture aren’t just nice words displayed on the walls or in your employee handbook. They should be embedded in the atmosphere of your workplace. That all begins with you. Don’t forget: Your employees are looking to you as a role model. As a leader, you must work to embody the values and culture you strive to achieve.
3. Keep an open door policy.
Make sure employees feel comfortable enough give you honest feedback—positive and negative—about the company culture as they see it, and what can be changed or improved. Seeing your commitment to the culture is automatically a step toward improvement. And even the most negative reviews can be turned into something positive.
Ultimately, the difference between a good company and a great company comes down to culture. Your company’s success depends not just on a vision or product, but on the people who carry out that vision and build that product each and every day.
When you create a culture in which they can flourish, your business will, too.
(By the way, I delve much deeper into these topics in our monthly Leaders Forum, a full day workshop for leaders of growing businesses. Over 125 business owners have already attended the Leaders Forum and gained clarity on how to manage growth and scale their businesses. Click here to learn more and apply.)