Company culture is a personality. While it may start with the CEO's vision, it ends up developing a life of its own, evolving and maturing based on a unique set of tangible and intangible components. These include the people, values and behaviors in the workplace, your company's purpose, and even your office's location. Of all these, the most important factor is the people and how they interact with one another.
Whenever I ask someone why they love their job, it's never, "the free perks," but rather, "the people I work with." Some companies, especially in Silicon Valley, focus on free massages, gourmet food, and the like. Sometimes, these perks can be more manipulative and seductive than valuable. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos elicited laughs a few years ago when he jokingly said, "If you're ever talking to some college student who you really care about -- maybe a niece or nephew -- you should definitely advise them that the best way to pick a job is who has the best massages. It'll really lead them in the right direction for the rest of their career." While I agree with Bezos, perks, when offered in the right context can be valuable. Catered lunches in the office, for example, can provide an opportunity for colleagues to get to know each other better.
Hiring the right people means hiring the right skillset, but it also means finding people who have key traits and qualities that will positively impact the culture--and ultimately the growth--of your business.
What are the important qualities to look for?
They actually care
Does this person care? Is there a sense of passion about the company or product? More importantly, can they point to multiple experiences in the workplace where they have demonstrated care? My company issuu is a digital publishing platform, so an engineering applicant may or may not have passion about content itself, but I look to see whether they're passionate about technical challenges that need solving.
Asking about someone's interests or hobbies can give you a sense of what they care about most. If we care about something, we are laser focused and uncover new and unique ways to solve a problem or make the tiniest refinements. Care often inspires creative solutions that would otherwise be dismissed or unconsidered.
They're willing to be accountable
Will this person go the extra mile? Do they strive for excellence? What are some examples of how they have been accountable beyond just the role they've had in ways that are constructive and impactful?
Being accountable is about understanding the impact of a project, and the trickle down effect of a missed deadline or obstacle on the business. It also demonstrates respect toward the people we work with. Accountability includes acknowledging mistakes and suggesting ways to address them rather than assigning blame.
Accountability doesn't mean micro-managing; rather, it's about having an understanding of what needs to be done and by when so that it all comes together. Being accountable for ourselves, our work, how we fit into a team or group within the company means there's alignment. As a result, everyone is marching toward the same outcome.
They have a learning mentality
Is this person willing to learn and looking for growth? There's a common theme among successful and admirable leaders: a curious personality and enthusiasm for learning.
Mark Zuckerberg is a great example of a curious learner--rather than hiring an interpreter, he decided to learn Chinese himself. Rather than continue to hide under his hoodie, he has become a more humorous and engaging public speaker, which has increased his ability to move his ideas forward.
There is an enormous feeling of satisfaction that comes from growing and accomplishing something new, and the only way to grow is to put yourself in that position. Look for people who are willing to learn a new trick, become an expert, refine their knowledge, and expand. Business and customer needs are dynamic, evolving and changing. Being able to respond maturely to these changes requires a learning mentality and an openness to creative solutions, which provide a natural gateway to wisdom.
The people at your company have the strongest influence on company culture. Curating a team to create a culture where people are caring, committed, accountable, and have a learning mentality pays off in the long run. Investing the time to hire people with these key traits will not only result in building an incredible company culture, but will also set up your business for success.