Values of My Hypothetical Company
This is what matters to me in relationships, so why wouldn't it matter for companies.
Company culture matters. Culture is made up of a lot of things, but it is not solely office perks, events, or free stuff. It’s an expectation of how people communicate with and value each other.
Looking at the top three Google search results around what company culture is, I noticed a trend:
“Company culture is important to employees because workers are more likely to enjoy work when their needs and values are consistent with their employers.” Source.
“If they work for a company with a strong culture that aligns with their own beliefs and attitudes, they’ll be more likely to work hard and remain with the company for the long haul.” Source.
“In aligned organizations, the same core characteristics or beliefs motivate and unite everyone, cascading down from the C-suite to individual contributors.” Source.
Clear company culture creates alignment, and unity is important for employee happiness. This is not to say one culture is objectively better or worse, right or wrong. More specifically, different people function differently and feel most comfortable communicating with people who communicate in the same way. There are parallels here between company culture and relationships (both friendships and romantic ones): people gravitate towards others with similar core values.
There are drawbacks of course to surrounding yourself with people too similar to you which I’ll get to later on. But first, what I value in every one of my personal and professional relationships.
The Big 4
Values aren’t just a set of vague words that can be interpreted differently by different people. Personally, I do not believe “respect” is a value. To some, respect means not speaking up because someone holds a higher position in the organization. To others, it means speaking up aggressively all of the time to show respect and care for someone’s well being and good decision making.
Here are my biggest principles.
Value people and make them feel it.
First, people need to feel valued. A good idea is good no matter who it came from. That means encouraging everyone to speak up and propose ideas. It also means no arbitrary authority based on title or status, no egos, and no aggression. In addition to feeling valued, people need to systematically be valued. Value is reflected not only in compensation, but in promoting and rewarding based on merit and not social status.
Balance between logic and emotion.
If two websites do the exact same thing but one is objectively uglier, it won’t perform as well. Why? Because of how it makes people feel. Logic and emotion both have a place in business—being ruthlessly logical and being guided by blind emotion both have faults. When building product, talking to coworkers, or really making any decision, always consider the benefits of logic versus emotion in the particular situation. Be driven by both logic and kindness when it comes to building product and managing people.
Let go, trust, and be flexible.
Leaders do not control, they guide. Letting go means trusting the employees you hired and trusting the processes you put in place to build a business, grow a team, or execute building a product. Empower anyone to do their best work whatever that means to them—in a WeWork or at home, communicating more in meetings or starting with Slack before syncing up.
Work with urgency and intention.
How you do anything is how you do everything. Your personal brand is what people you work with say when you’re not in the room, and that concerns everything you produce. Everyone should make intentional decisions, weighing the impact you have on others. A sense of urgency drives productivity and results, while intention drives quality and efficient work.
I have not built a company, nor have I scaled a 50 person team. Many of us doubt ourselves based on experience or other qualifications. Anyone who has been an employee, however, has seen company culture either succeed or fail. They have felt either joy or misery coming in to work.
With scale comes diversity—diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking. However, diversity does not mean differing values. People from different backgrounds can still trust each other, listen to each other, and communicate similarly. Diversity is important to make sure you’re not ideating in a bubble.
I have been fortunate in experiencing mostly joy when coming to work, and had the privilege of seeing different sides of the spectrum, different cultures. What I hope you takeaway is one person’s observations about what made them feel motivated, empowered, and happy.