A while back I wrote about Corey Thomas’s take on company culture. Here are some more notes on culture from his lunch talk today.
Figure out what’s important to you
- take the time to clarify your company’s vision: what you want to achieve and why is it important?
- define your culture. what are the default shared attitudes/behaviors/beliefs (about what makes your company successful) that people at your company exhibit?
- focus on the extremes. what behaviors are critical to your success as a company, and what behaviors are a fireable offense?
- these key behaviors will be the focus of your culture enforcement and your hiring decisions
- be forgiving of negative behaviors that are not dealbreakers. point them out as micro-feedback when you see them and invite the transgressor to improve
- practice noticing deep emotions throughout your day. stop and ask yourself “why am I feeling this right now?” the answers will help clarify your dealbreakers
Do your hiring homework
- we’re young entrepreneurs. people are eager to help if we ask
- start your hiring process by talking to people who have built or done what you’re trying to do at the stage of growth where you are or want to be soon. don’t talk to people at 1000-person companies unless they were there when it was 10 people.
- get their story. what was the job like? what was the journey like? what from their background helped them succeed? how do they think about what success meant at that time? you’re trying to define success for your role.
- ask yourself how much you care if people in this role believe in the mission? there are many right answers. you have to be self-aware about your own answer so you can hire people who match what you want
- focus on the key behaviors under stress. push the candidate a little to see how they respond under pressure.
- make sure you let the candidates know what your dealbreakers are. you don’t want to hire someone who’s gonna set you off all the time
- you want someone who’s attracted to what you value and disinclined to do what you dislike. try to understand their tendencies regarding your values and dealbreakers
Remote work advice
- you can’t build a great company without getting to know people on a personal level - what drives them, what pisses them off. set aside unstructured time with everyone you work with
- give each new hire several hours of unstructured time with people across the company
- when things are remote, it’s easy for everything to become transactional
Corey’s one weird hiring trick
- Find people who are excellent at their function and hungry for senior leadership experience they haven’t been given before. Corey calls it “promotional hiring” - give them a chance at that senior role. be up front with them about the opportunity: “I’m giving you a chance. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll demote or fire you.”