What interview question do you always ask potential hires and why?
“Are you a leader or are you a follower?”
This is a question that always gives us great insight into the way an applicant thinks. In hiring for certain positions, we know exactly how much leadership we want for each, and we’re looking for applicants who can correctly assess where they will fit in our structure. However, most importantly, we’re looking for applicants who aren’t afraid of the leading role, which shows us they have the confidence to both produce great work and challenge assumptions respectfully.
What makes your company culture unique?
I won’t pretend that we have some magic sauce other than the obvious: We hire wonderful, passionate people who share our core values. However, because I work with the cultures of many other organizations, I will say that we seem to act very differently from the norm in our accountability policies. We are the opposite of micro-managers; we look at our employees to set the work ethic, set the deadlines, provide solutions and fulfill client needs. In this way, my business partner and I serve as coaches instead of jockeys, which I believe empowers our people to see the direct impact they have on the company.
How can you make sure team outings or activities appeal as best they can to all employees?
Great question, but you’d have to ask my employees. My business partner and I only plan one event per year around the holidays. Every other activity is planned and organized by members of the team, which we actively encourage. They collect feedback, arrange schedules, plan the events, etc. We’ll “sponsor” a few of them, and others are entirely paid for by the group.
What’s your best tip for keeping a personal touch to onboarding and training as you grow?
We take a tremendous amount of time to check in with our employees. In the first several weeks and months of a new hire coming on board, we check in with the new hire, the new hire’s manager, other people in the new hire’s department, and other people in other departments to get a litmus test for how the new hire is doing. We seek all perspectives, particularly because seeking perspective is a cornerstone of our values and our culture. And we’re open about it; we’ll actively say, “We’re glad you’re doing well! We’re going to check in with other members of the team to see how they think you’re doing.” At the end of the day, every team member needs to have accountability to the other team members because they’re all relying on each other to move the company forward. It is essential that all of our team members understand and internalize that fact.
What’s one quick, easy way any company at any stage can invest in their company culture?
It’s shocking how few organizations actually ask their employees, “What could be better?” One great tip from the Entrepreneur’s Operating System is to ask, “What should we start doing? Stop doing? Keep doing?” If you ask people to give feedback, don’t worry – they’ll tell you! Then act on that feedback and communicate your actions. Otherwise, your employees won’t respect you, or worse, they’ll resent you for wasting their time by asking for feedback in the first place.