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KNOW HOW

How to Bring New Employees Into Your Culture
 

Get it right. Because culture trumps just about everything.

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People could die if we get things wrong. A lot of our employees are young, and they operate with little direct supervision, putting on events in fields thousands of miles from where I sit. We're a very specific kind of company, and we need very specific kinds of people.

To find them, we have to do four things: run really good recruitment, induct people, train people, and assess people. We use the acronym RITA.

1. Induction is the most complicated. It's easy to put your values on the wall. It means nothing. It's about behavior. Culture is really just how people behave when they think you're not looking.

2. We teach people how we expect them to behave. The induction period is three weeks. We started doing it in May of last year. We got to the stage where we were happy with our organization and the culture we had and felt like we were in a position to scale it.

3. Part of that time is spent sitting in a classroom and having people come and speak. We also have group discussions and give people mentors, with whom they can discuss things confidentially. Then we do team bonding activities, like sending people out on treasure hunts or taking them surfing. The point is to make them feel they have a set of peers across the company. I also personally sit down with groups of new people for an hour and a half and let them ask me anything they want.

4. Culture eats strategy for breakfast, and it's far easier to keep the right culture on track than get the wrong one back on track. So figure out which behaviors are sacrosanct at your organization and which ones are profane. Then take all four steps of RITA and ask yourself three months later, Am I really seeing the behavior I want to see?

As told to Inc. staff writer Issie Lapowsky.

IMAGE: Klaus Thymann/Trunk Archive
From the November issue of Inc. magazine




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