Thoughts on Company Culture
Company culture has become a common vernacular used by leadership and recruiting among all different industries because it is an intangible offering that young people searching for jobs crave and expect to find. While companies are starting to place an importance on culture, it will always be difficult to create and deliver consistently and genuinely. And, as I mentioned in my earlier post, the new generation of employees can read right through the inauthenticity delivered through an interview or on the job. Saying you have culture and living it out have noticeable differences. Just as important as having a mission, vision, and core values to communicate to your future partners, clients and employees, culture should also be prioritized as you weave it into your guiding principals and the DNA of your company.
Culture can often be hard to explain and put into words, so I find that the best way to gauge the culture of a company is to spend as much time as possible with the people who make up the fabric of the company, which are the employees. When interviewing with Chick-fil-A corporate for my first job right out of college, I spent about 6 months and 28+ different interviews with my future team, boss, and coworkers. As an employer, this helped them really understand who I was and how I would fit into the strong culture of CFA, and it also gave me a great idea of the authentic and positive work environment that I could be stepping into. The relationship to them is so important that they relate it to a marriage, and at Knight Eady we want to take a very similar approach. Our work is easy to love and generates passion because it revolves around sports, but we want to make sure that the people representing our company share the same character and identity that our company has worked so hard to produce. We do care that a potential candidate possesses experience in the field and has a strong work ethic, but as the Director of Culture, I want to make sure that above anything else, he/she will fit into the unique environment that we have created at Knight Eady. This does not mean that they should fit into a mold and be just like the rest of us, because our differences keep work entertaining and interesting and provide various perspectives. We just want to make sure that their personal values and approach to each day fall in line with that of our company.
I have a great responsibility as the caretaker of our culture to make sure that we are holding ourselves accountable for living it out daily and not just hiring the right people, but maintaining a healthy environment for our current staff. Before we can begin pushing it out to our clients we must embrace it within the framework of our own organization. If our employees get it and are excited to live out our mission each day, then it will be evident to our sponsors and partners how we operate and they will be more pleased to work with us. Because we are a lean company right now, this may be easier to do, but the challenge for us as we grow is to stay true to our core values and our culture that we have established. It is easy to get caught up in the “mega moments” of a company such as landing big clients, acquiring iconic events, or celebrating milestones, but culture is more about the every day work life and the interaction on a normal week because that will set the pace for the work environment.
Culture is defined by much more than happy hours, attending sporting events, and celebrating birthdays. It is about nurturing the people within your organization and giving them opportunities to be challenged. It is about constantly innovating and learning. It is about living out a purpose that is much bigger than selling tickets or sponsorships. It is about being fun and laughing at one another. Culture is about being transparent, honest and unique. At Knight Eady we aim to be a disruptive brand in the marketplace that is not only trusted but loved, and that all starts with the culture that we create in our office.