Yes, that culture thing, IS important

58-culture-pic1-19sep2016“…over the course of the first…two and half or three years, we fired 40% of the people we hired…and it was entirely my fault…we didn’t have a really good process for thinking through what a culture fit was.”

This was the candid admission of Nick Francis, Co-founder & CEO of Help Scout. Nick joined me on a recent episode of the From Founder To CEO podcast. Nick is a great guy and gave a great interview.

However, I was a bit shocked to hear him say this. 40% is a large portion of a startup team. But, what really caught my attention was the reason for firing 40% of his team…culture fit. He didn’t blame anyone but himself. He reveals that in the beginning, he had not considered how to include assessing candidates for the culture he wanted to create at Help Scout.

This IS really important. And, it deserves a significant amount of our attention as a Founding CEO.

The challenge is not only creating a process for screening and assessing, but what to do even before that. What type of culture do you want to create at your startup? How can you create a hiring process that takes into account the cultural fit of a candidate unless YOU are clear about the culture you hope to create?

Here are some actions to take to help you get clear.

  • Assemble your core leadership team and collectively define what you want your culture to be all about.
  • Interview fellow Founding CEOs in your city about the positive dimensions of their cultures and how they made it more concrete and tangible.
  • Write down the TOP 10 negative cultural elements of the organizations where you once worked.

Hiring is tricky. Hiring without considering culture fit is problematic. Hiring without YOU even understanding the culture you are trying to create is a recipe for failure.

How have you developed your culture at your startup? Send me an email and let me know. [email protected]


2 thoughts on “Yes, that culture thing, IS important

  1. Full Disclaimer: I haven’t listened to this podcast yet, so this may have been addressed. Something to be careful of when discussing culture, is to avoid using culture and fit as an excuse to exclude women and minorities during the hiring process. Culture is sometimes code for “people who look and act like me.” This can lead to a process that immediately excludes talented individuals who bring high qualifications and experience to the table. Culture is definitely important and should be a part of the thought process when making hiring decisions. Just be careful not to use it as an excuse to avoid diversifying your team.

    1. Hi Tamara. Thanks so much for sharing your voice on this important topic. I think you are absolutely correct. Great point. As a matter of fact, Nick talks about this specifically toward the end of the interview. 🙂 Enjoy.

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