A company’s culture is a living, breathing thing that will evolve over time as the company grows. However, it’s important to have a high-level idea of the kind of culture you want before you begin hiring--how else will you properly assess if potential hires will reinforce and improve the culture?
Imagine if a construction company started building a project without any plans from an architect. They just started laying bricks with no idea of what they were building, how it would function, or where anything would go. How would that turn out? By the end of the project, they would’ve spent a ton of time and money redoing and fixing issues that they couldn’t have foreseen upfront. This is what it’s like for a company to hire before they’ve defined their culture.
Every detail of a company’s culture doesn’t need to be defined on day one. A company’s culture is a living, breathing thing that will evolve over time as the company grows, both intentionally and unintentionally. However, it’s important to have a high level idea of the kind of culture you want before you begin hiring--how else will you properly assess if potential hires will reinforce and improve the culture or fight and degrade it?
Culture is set by the leaders of a company--plain and simple. The initial team, the founders and key team members, are in charge of defining and communicating the culture then reinforcing that culture through their actions. Culture is what you actually do, not just what you say. The easiest (and best) cultures feel natural to everyone involved. If you’re forced to greatly change yourself to fit a company culture, it’s probably just not a good fit on either side.
At Leverege, we believe people are most effective when they can be completely themselves and bring their full identity to work. Though we have high standards, we also believe the work environment should be playful, casual, and relaxed.
When a culture means being yourself, carrying and contributing to that culture becomes easy. However, this is why it’s so critical to consciously define your culture and use it to assess new hires. If a new employee being themselves is fundamentally misaligned with your company’s values, the cultural clash will either weaken the company culture, make that employee unhappy, or both.
Sadly, too many companies hire without a clear understanding of their desired culture and the result is a dysfunctional team, low employee retention, and a ton of lost time, money, and productivity. Turnover isn’t just financially costly, it’s also costly on morale and the collective knowledge of the team.
So define the culture you want and hire for that. Certain elements of culture will change (and should change), but there are certain overarching elements of culture that can be defined before bringing people into that culture. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is hiring a person into the wrong culture--not just for the company but also for the individual--and how do you expect to mitigate that if you haven’t yet defined your culture?
Keep it simple, start defining your culture from day one, always hire with culture fit as a top priority and adjust the culture as your company learns and grows. Leaders in particular must live the culture every day and understand that no amount of talent in a potential hire justifies sacrificing cultural fit.