...says Eric Schmidt, Google’s adult-in-residence. He goes on to say, “The Google culture makes sense if you’re in it, and no sense if you’re not.” (Business Week, May 12, 2008)
And that’s exactly what strong cultures are supposed to do: resonate with the folks who work there, and repel everyone else.
In the same way that a healthy body will reject tissue transplants, foreign objects or infection, strong work cultures repel people that just don’t fit. It’s no wonder that most of the Next Companies we work with have cultures that seem foreign to those outside of them:
- Ricardo Semler of Semco allows his employees to choose their hours, and their salaries. This is unheard of in most industries, but it works well for Semco in part because employees working ‘normal business hours’ would spend hours in Buenos Aires’ traffic. By setting their own hours, they avoid rush hour and have more energy to focus on their work.
- Google encourages employees to invest 20% of their time working on projects outside their job descriptions. This is heretical at other software firms, but Google knows that big-brained engineers want to work on the coolest projects and technology. The 20% rule facilitates their natural tendencies to do that.
- The Seigfried Group has injected a layer of Team Leaders to its org chart. TLs’ primary responsibilities are to connect their 6-10 teammates to the firm through social and company events, coach them in their career aspirations, and ensure that their performance reviews are delivered in a thorough and timely way. Most CPA firms don’t invest in these kinds of efforts. Siegfried wouldn’t do it any other way.
Each of these practices is counterintuitive in their industries. But those eyebrow-raising practices attract the right kind of people, and repel the rest.
What differentitates you from other companies? If your list is short, it might be time to strengthen your culture with a few practices that will set you apart from the herd… and attract the right kind of talent to you.
P.S. Props to Business Week for its fresh new look. Both the magazine and the website are more user friendly and engaging.