When you start a company the focus is on execution, production market-fit, hiring the right team and raising capital. HR and insurance are definitely not the first thing that comes to mind but these things are realized as the company grows.
Culture should be number one. Culture starts at the top with the founder being thoughtful about the community they want to foster inside the company with core values.
I have talked to companies that literally had not thought about community culture until 100 people were working there. They then had to work insanely hard at creating the culture they wanted across the organization. Of course a culture was already there but not really what they had in mind. Thoughts about executing on a connected culture early on creates a better work environment towards a united goal.
This past week I sat down with a founder who is growing his company his way. He put together a list of ten words that were then defined on what they mean to the core values that represent the company he wants to build. He wants to get it tighter but each word connects with each other. The words that really rung out are humility, pride, joy in the process and janitors.
Humility goes a long way. Start-ups founders would be better off with a little bit more humility. It is a good look. Figuring out how everyone in the company finds pride in what they are doing and more than that have fun. We spend a lot of time working and feeling good about the work makes life so much better. Last is janitors which backs up the first two. It can be as simple as if you go to the bathroom and you used the last roll of toilet paper and replace it. Nobody is above that.
It is that kind of thoughtful founder who realizes there is a responsibility for what they are building to the people that work there that I love working with. Setting core values early on is part of building a solid foundation.
also it signals to potential employees. spoke with a person that told me a CEO said “If you aren’t for ripping down every Robert E Lee statue, I don’t want you working here”. Regardless of what you think about Robert E Lee and statues, that CEO is sending a signal. if I agreed with him I might wonder what other opinions they have and if I didn’t agree, would I want to work there?
The CEO incorrectly assumes that they will either a) attract a person who agrees or b) a person who disagrees who will stay away.But there is a 3rd possibility. Someone who accepts the job but then has no loyalty and will leave easily when they get a chance. In other words (for lack of a better way to put it) a mercenary. So the CEO thinks they are being smart by sending that strong signal but they aren’t if they end up with door number three.Also the entire idea of stating something as either a question or a demand isn’t the right way to achieve what the CEO wants. They could do the same by simply (as I often say) ‘telling a story’ and then judge the reaction to the story. Asking a question invites gaming a response as ‘right answer’.