Culture is hands down the most important factor in any organization. It's like the silent but powerful force that sets the down about how everything else in the company work.
When I look back on my work experience, it's almost like the industry or product I'm working with doesn't even matter. What matters are the internal dynamics of the organization and its culture.
Culture is a combination of values and norms that everyone in the organization shares. Values are beliefs that guide the decision-making process of individuals. They serve to align a group to a common direction. Norms are the expectations or rules that influence behavior.
When these elements come together, they create the organization's identity and shape how people interact with each other. A strong culture can create an engaging and collaboration-filled environment, where employees are motivated and productive.
The early days a company hires are critical for setting the tone for the culture. It's all about hiring the right people with the right attitude and values.
The first few hires will shape the culture and set the standard for the rest. They'll also influence others by acting as role models. People will naturally be motivated to follow their lead because social mimicry is a powerful force. The first few employees also decide who is brought in and who isn't, and act as role models. The early employees set the standard by their words and actions, and lay the groundwork for the culture that will carry on.
It's like a snowball - it starts small, but quickly grows into something big.
In a previous company I was in, management tried to fix multiple bad cultural fits that were hired early by either firing or sidelining the individuals. This not only resulted in bad first reactions from the team at-large, but also didn’t give the desired results. The third order effects were already in full force. Other team members were already influenced, the bad apples already planted some seeds. It’s very hard to stop a domino effect after it starts.
It's important to be intentional and thoughtful when hiring in the early days of a startup in order to avoid prioritizing speed over quality. Whether you're intentional or not, it's important to recognize the snowball effect of culture when it comes to hiring. At the end of the day, it's the culture of the company that will determine its success.
This is why blitzscaling is such a fascinating topic, and why it can be so tricky to navigate. It’s important to be deliberate in the early days of a company when it comes to hiring. Be deliberate!