Culture is typically perceived as having ping pong tables, dogs, bean bags and beer kegs at the office, but there is a reason why this blog isn’t titled How to Have the Most Fun at Work. While these may be office perks, they are not the key to building a great work culture.
We define culture as the daily experience of working in an organization through interactions and relationships. Our vision and mission make up the destination that we’re heading toward, and culture is the journey of what it’s like every single day on our way there.
The Magneti culture is really important to us and is composed of transparency, trust and care – we want people to know that we support them and have their backs. Everybody wants to enjoy their job, work hard, grow and love how they spend their days—that’s culture.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” – Jim Collins
The Magneti Culture
In a recent interview, I was asked: “What were some of the intentional things you did from the beginning that helped lay the foundation for the culture that exists at Magneti?” My answer:
The focus from the get-go was always on culture. We knew as founders of the company could all go get jobs making a lot of money for other great companies, but how much would we enjoy that?
The first thing we wanted to do was create an environment that we all wanted to work in. That kind of environment is really centered on our three laws of gravity, which are: over-communicate, nail the details, and have fun. Those are the only three rules of Magneti.
Having fun is really not a trite comment. At heart, my nature is very playful and goofy. I’m always making a joke and can’t take anything seriously. So when we started we made sure not to take everything so seriously and that really became a core of who we are. If our team is not having fun, they’re not going to do good work and I think that’s true for any work you do on a daily basis.
Enacting those laws of gravity really took investing in talent upfront which I was nervous about in the beginning but it’s helped us build a great reputation and execute from the get go.
The Magneti culture directly correlates with our three laws of gravity:
- Overcommunicate – We don’t leave our people hanging. Employees always know where Magneti stands and what our next move is. We have a super transparent leadership style—no one is left in the dark.
- Nail the Details – Our team knows the most crucial details to business. We clearly outline things that can get us in trouble internally and externally, and we don’t communicate that by instilling fear. It comes from a deep trust in our employees that they share the common mission for Magneti’s success. And, whenever a detail is missed, employees aren’t reprimanded—it’s an opportunity to learn.
- Have Fun – When we get together to brainstorm, present or check in with one another, we have a blast. There is so much brain power, trust and collaboration in one room…and lots of laughs. We also plan team events throughout the year, including ski days, Rockies games and various celebrations. So yes, we do get out of the office.
Setting the Culture Tone
We work really hard to show people that we have their backs and that they are loved and valued for who they are and what they bring to the team. We encourage people to do what’s best for them, even if it’s not best for Magneti. At the end of the day, we hope our team knows that we have their best interests in mind, not just the financial interest of the company.
“Treat people so they can leave, treat them so they won’t.” – Richard Branson
We are growing to the point where the team can keep the culture without the leadership there. It’s not about me and Jesse – we were there to drive the culture at the beginning, but it is no longer in our hands. The biggest challenge of building a healthy culture is patience – you can’t just stand up on a Monday and say, “Hey, here’s what our culture is.” It takes years. We reinforce it and holding people accountable for it before it starts to become tangible. We are no longer involved in the little culture things that happen daily, and it is so powerful for us to see culture thrive.
Hiring for Culture Fit
Jesse and I conduct all initial phone screens with potential employees—something that is pretty rare in the business world. The most important component to Magneti’s growth is hiring people that will carry on the company culture. This is an aspect that a lot of companies miss; they hire people that are capable before hiring for culture.
Here is how our hiring process looks: hire first for culture, second for skills, third for experience and fourth for fit regarding the role. We ask ourselves: “How will this person enrich the Magneti work environment?” The people we hire are the people we will be spending the most time with—starting with culture gives you a good baseline.
Culture is just as much about the expectations that you set and filter for during hiring as it is the ongoing accountability of those values. Expectations mean more to people than you think, so we set them from the very first phone screen.
A healthy culture always comes back to a sense of trust and delight – do we have trust in one another and the people who we hire, and are we able to say that what we do together is actually fun? We spend a lot of time together as a team, and making that time wonderful, meaningful and life-giving is such a privilege for us. It also happens to lead to some pretty great work!