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Why company culture starts before people join your company Annick Vandezande - April 20, 2017

Joshua Sortino 5581

Commitment is one of the core pillars of a great company culture. If your people aren’t committed, they won’t go that extra mile for the customer, they won’t put passion into their projects and they won’t deliver any ‘Wow’, ever. Commitment is the difference between ‘going to work’ and ‘doing what you love’ and that will eventually reflect to your customers.

But how do you ‘create’ a committed team? Some believe it can be done through RACI-like charts. With a 16-year background in some of the big consultancy firms, I have made tons of those. For those unfamiliar with RACI: it’s a way to streamline the governance of a process by designating certain roles: who is ‘responsible’, who is ‘ accountable’, who should be ‘consulted’ and who should be ‘informed’. While I have nothing against these type of charts (they have proven their value in well-defined processes) I don’t believe for one bit that these very directive – even command and control–type of rules won’t make anybody on the planet more committed. They are about fear, stating that “your head is on the table if this goes wrong”. (I actually heard a customer once literally state the latter to my former business partner.) This kind of approach will kill your company culture, if you’re not careful).

I can call myself one of the luckiest COOs in the world as the nexxworkers (what we call our team at nexxworks) are the most committed team I have ever worked with. They have left their own comfort working environment to jump on a high-speed train full of uncertainty, with extremely high moments of joy but – let’s face it – also lows. Although they are not a shareholder of the firm (yet… we are working on a warranty plan as we speak) they act like one.  Together we are building towards our mission of ‘inspiring companies to act upon their day after tomorrow’. And I think it shows.

As we quadrupled in number of people over the past 1.5 years so did our culture and the strong feeling of commitment. We didn’t apply any magic tricks, only a few basic ingredients. The very core is about hiring the right people, obviously: people that are passionate, enthusiastic, smart, fun, warm, inquisitive, creative (each in their very own way) and eager. People who are hungry to make a dent in the universe. That’s step one. If you don’t get that one right, it won’t work. So I’d advise you to put a lot of effort into your hiring endeavors.

Then follows empowerment and trust. You have to ‘let go to let grow’. That’s why we empower our people to make their own decisions and act on them. Even if that’s scary sometimes. That’s why we are a very flexible company. That’s why we don’t try to control every little thing that happens. But I also firmly believe that some of the small things we do have also contributed a lot to our current atmosphere and resulted in a very engaged team.

The little things really matter as much as the big visible ones for your company culture. ‘Onboarding’, for one, is essential as a good start is half the battle. Culture does not begin and end with your company walls. In fact, it even starts before people join your company. From the moment of the first conversation (because this is what will decide if they will fit). From the moment that they agree to come and work for you. At nexxworks, they become nexxworkers before their actual ‘contract date’ starts.

Some recruits pre-joined team events or strategic team meetings. From the moment they sign their contract, they are already included in our WhatsApp group which ranges from any serious communication to fun and crazy stuff…That’s how they get to know the internal atmosphere upfront. 

We have no secrets…. We also love to put a lot of effort into creating a personal welcome box and welcome message letting them know we are really looking forward to them joining us!  

In fact, we are still working on our own version of the Facebook welcome book. It will not be a book with processes and procedures to follow. That’s not how we roll. It will reflect our attitude, our behavior and our culture.  That’s how we want to infuse newcomers with our company culture in the most fun manner possible. So they’ll feel at home when they walk in through the door on their very first day.

THAT is how you build a company full of committed people: you engage with them from the start. Before the start, even. You welcome them with warmth. Above all, you show them that you are as committed to them as they are to you..    

Annick Vandezande By Sarah Oyserman 1 Web 72Dpi
Annick Vandezande

With more than 15-years of experience in the big 4 consultancy firms and as a former Director of Technology Consulting, Annick has a true passion for bridging business and IT. Her in-depth...