What is the culture at your company? How does one answer this question? What is Culture? There are countless books and blogs and podcasts that can go on and on about this topic but at the heart of it, its as simple as this.
How does one feel while working with the company of co-workers? Culture is the driving force that defines how one feels while working with the company.
The company is what you, me and everyone else builds with a common goal and shared purpose. The company is its people, the way we dream, act, build, react and most importantly make each other feel while working together.
We all come from different places and have unique life experiences. Things we find important and interesting might not be for others, yet we have to work together to achieve a shared goal. We are shaped by our individual life experiences, how we act and react to situations evolves as we experience new things in life. Our hope is that your time at Fyle will offer you a great life experience that has a lasting positive impact on your life.
For any relationship to work, it is important to put in the work. Whether it is with your parents, siblings, significant others or friends. The reason for this is that we are all involved and absorbed in our own lives and our understanding of what is important to others is shaped by our earlier understanding of what was important to them. This leads to mismatch in expectations, which leads to conflict and at times bitterness. But when you start to put in the work to make the relationship work, things start getting better and you get to understand each other better.
We spend a significant amount of our active time with our co-workers and in a professional setting and like any other relationship, the relationship with co-workers also requires constant work. This is a many-to-many relationship, and without a common thread or a common language acting like a binding agent, you can feel like there are many cultures within the same company.
As founders, we have been fortunate to have worked with some fantastic people in our earlier roles and we realised the importance of investing in building a culture that could be a great differentiating factor in the future.
Our understanding of culture is also shaped by our life experiences and we do realise that cultural upkeep is a tough job and no one alone is responsible for it. It is the collective responsibility of every single person.
In the initial stages of the company, we were a fairly small team of about 10 people and there were a lot of unsaid, undocumented code that we followed that built trust and transparency. We credited this to the culture that we, as founders built, and we thought that we had done everything we had to do as far as culture was considered, since we had spent a fair amount of time perfecting our interview process. We were so wrong.
In early 2018, our team size grew from 10 to 15 and even though it had not increased much, we started finding ourselves in situations where we were explaining things a lot more than we were doing earlier. It then hit us that even a small change in the number of people can drastically shake up the cultural mould that we had unconsciously created and if we did not act, we could find ourselves inheriting a culture instead of building one.
We then took some time to define what kind of company we wanted to build. What were our values, what do we value in others. What do we find inspiring and what are strict nos. The result was a document that we created that tried to codify our culture that could help us in building that common thread that we could rely on. We also were heavily influenced by NetFlix culture code and we did borrow some aspects from their document.
We started with defining the objective for working towards building culture and for us it is to build an environment where everyone has a sense of belonging and accomplishment. We also wanted to keep it simple so that everyone could not just read a document but internalise the essence of it.
We define culture as a set of common behaviour traits that is exhibited by everyone while working with each other. This simplifies any complex jargon and lets everyone focus inward while working together. It helps in improving self awareness and develops a bias for action.
The other side of it is how do we measure whether what we are doing is effective? We do this by creating a predictable feedback loop which consists of quarterly engagement feedback, glassdoor reviews and periodic check ins from our people success team ( we do not have a HR team )
Our culture document outlines the behaviour traits that we value as
- Being Customer first
- Being Respectful
- Being Self-motivated
- Being Trustworthy
- Being Curious
- Being Empathetic
- Being Open and Transparent
- Demonstrate high performance
As you can see, these are traits that are expected of any decent human being. The challenge is in being conscious of these when we are working together.
In a real-world scenario, we are put in various situations that force us to react before understanding. Being conscious gives us that additional second to evaluate our response or reaction. The list is fairly self-explanatory but the context in which one can and needs to demonstrate this is also discussed in our initial culture session that happens when a newcomer is.
Our goal in sharing this is to highlight 2 things.
- Building culture is like building any relationship - it requires work. It is the hardest and the most important thing
founderseveryone in the company can do.
- It is the collective responsibility of every single person.