Culture: More Than the Writing on the Wall

Image: Monkey Business Images/

When you think about it, recruitment is really about selling. You’re selling your business, along with your dream, to a person who’s expertise and skill set you need.

But given today’s crowded startup market, finding the right people to “buy” your vision is harder than ever. In today’s tech economy, anyone can go get a job anywhere, and that makes it crucial for business leaders to understand that they are now the fish in the pond, and talent is the fisherman.

How do you figure out who’s right for your business?

You look for someone who is going to not only get the job done, but who has similar goals as your organization. In some instances, you will need someone who is not afraid to roll up his or her sleeves and become a Jack of All Trades… and if you have hired a ton of Masters of One, you will start to swim in place as an organization. This will not only affect your culture, but could also have a dramatic affect on your time-to-market strategy. It’s because of this that you need to look at the cultural fit, and remember that a company’s core values aren’t the same as its perks. “Use your culture to help manage your team, including it in evaluations, feedback, promotions, and bonuses,” is how Frank Gruber once framed the issue in his Startup Mixology.

That means prospective new hires are clear on the values that define your company. Post-hire, perks such as team activities can be used to motivate employees to embrace those same principles. So as you or your hiring team start to assess where this person fits into your team, make sure you recognize that liking the same team activities and values are two different things. For example, liking that a company has team happy hour in the office every Friday is a very different thing from understanding that a company value is Motivation. While Motivation can come through team activities, the activities themselves are perks of the job or the vehicles to help teams become motivated for a common goal.

Because, culture “is the belief in your people,” Sheila Marcelo, CEO of, once said. “It’s not just lip service.”

By embracing the writing that you’ve put on your walls or on your career website, you are starting to build a company culture: one that you value and believe in. Because by actually living the list of values that are associated with your company, you start creating a real live culture that exists beyond paper.

The San Francisco based ticketing company Eventbrite is just one company that’s recognized the need to build a strong culture through cultivating people, something that allowed it to grow to a firm of more than 300 employees. With a strong enough culture, a business becomes increasingly self-operating, no matter who’s in charge in the C-suite at a particular moment.

How do you start to build a culture that defines your company? Begin by writing down your firm’s core values, and figuring out a way to articulate those values in each aspect of operations. Then start living them. Once you’ve accomplished that, the most skilled and talented workers will buy into your dream.

Till next month,


@Jkay007 @DiceStartups
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