Whether you’re an interviewee or a hiring manager, one of the most important – if not the most important – aspects of hiring is culture. With every candidate I’ve interviewed – and with every company I’ve interviewed at – cultural fit is the one thing I’m looking for above all else. I want to work with brilliant, passionate, motivated, and compassionate people, and I’d expect no less from you. When candidates ask me what Merchant Warehouse’s culture is like, I can (and sometimes do) throw around all sorts of words like “agile” or “lean” – maybe even “fast-paced” or “a startup environment”. And all of those categorizations are true. But they don’t capture the culture we aspire to create. Those are more like side effects of our culture.
Good managers realize that culture happens, whether you plan it or not. Great managers realize that a great culture helps people deliver their best work, and they strive to create it. So if you're going to have a culture whether you like it or not, why not make it one you love?
Creating or changing a company’s culture isn’t an easy task, especially within an established company. It takes time, a lot of effort and constant reinforcement. But it all starts with hiring. Who you hire reflects not only your own values, but also the culture you aspire to create. Jim Rohn famously said, “You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So why not hire to raise that bar? We at Merchant Warehouse hire to elevate. We bring people who will challenge us and can learn from. Our new hires are predisposed to action. They have a sense of ownership. They’re resourceful. They’re life-long learners. In short, they’re people with HEART (Humble, Effective, Adaptable, Remarkable, and Transparent).
I don’t think that any little kid has ever said, “When I grow up, I want to be a manager!” The way I see it, you manage challenges and risks, not people. Instead, we all should demand inspiring leaders - passionate coaches and tireless supporters. Managers should exist to help individual stars make magic. As an employee with his own boss, I want direction on where we are going, not detailed directions on how to get there. And as a manager, that’s the same respect I give to all of my employees.
You see, good managers realize that culture isn’t free lunch, haircuts, and massages. Those are nice perks that companies use to get you to stay at work longer. Rather, culture is about being empowered to do a job you love, and the opportunity to do really rewarding, fulfilling things. So we at Merchant Warehouse strive to give ourselves the autonomy to be awesome. We trust ourselves and we use good judgment.
What does it mean to be empowered at Merchant Warehouse? For our Engineers, it means that we:
- Favor action over inaction.
- Favor self-organizing teams over micro-management. No assigned tasks.
- Favor simple solutions over complex ones. We KISS.
- Favor working proofs of concept over top-down design decisions.
- Favor rough consensus and running code.
- In short, favor people over process.
Our culture, like any good one, is a work in progress. We are committed to kaizen –continuous improvement, and the constant urge to change for the better. If you think this sounds like a place you’d like to work at and would like to help us become a mobile payment giant, please email email@example.com
This post was inspired by and owes a huge debt of gratitude to HubSpot’s Culture Code and Netflix Culture: Freedom and Responsibility. These are two great companies that in many ways we aspire to emulate.