Organizational culture is the heart of every company. When you have a terrible one, your engagement level is also terrible. When it's a thriving culture, your employees will, too, thrive. It's as simple as that. But the hard part is building and maintaining that thriving culture as your company grows.
We got a chance to chat with a company that knows a thing or two about amazing cultures. Here's what Jorg, CMO of MessageBird, had to say:
Q: Tell us a little about your company and its culture.
A: In the end, your company culture is the only true identifier. It is who you are collectively and inspires your team members to act individually. And it's the most valued thing you have. Your innovative technology will be copied, your prices will be matched, but your company's personality is unique and authentic.
"The way we treat each other is the same way we treat our customers, suppliers, and the guy that's cleaning our office at night" is one of the explanations of our culture that would be given when you'd be interviewing for a new position or just visiting our offices. It is the simplest way to explain the core of our culture.
But there's more to it. Our growth has been crazy these past few years. We're trying to change the trillion-dollar telecom industry by making complex communication technology simpler, which we currently do for over 10,000 customers in 42 countries. As we started in 2011, we scaled mainly on the technology side of things, but later on, our team started to grow as well. Considering that it is our aim to automate as much as we can and mainly scale through technology — going from 6 people one-and-a-half years ago to 31 now — is quite something for us.
We've learned so many things from it. One of those things is that it's unreasonable to think that the culture you have now will be the same when you hit 50, 100, or even 200 people. Your culture changes slowly. Every new person is getting things out of it but also puts their uniqueness into it. In a way we even expect you to do so at MessageBird. This manifests itself in people organizing a game night, going to see the new Star Wars, helping others move house but also introducing much-needed procedures to improve the way we work or communicate with each other. The latest effort I noticed is the start of a mini-library at the office with great books we all think others should read and learn from. While culture is ever-changing, it's best to define the core values that live within your company.
Q: What's one thing your company practices that sets its culture apart from everyone else?
A: That it feels like a family to everyone. We focus a lot of our activities on creating that family feeling. One of which is that we always want to have lunch together at one huge table. Another one is that we have awesome company gear that everyone wears proudly:
A photo posted by Jorg Ruis (@jruis) on
Q: What advice can you give to organizations seeking to close the communication gap?
- Do one-on-one meetings (Tip: check Ben Horowitz's book The Hard Thing About Hard Things). It's a 30-minute meeting where the employee can set the agenda and address anything that they're not able to address via our channels
- Start with TINYpulse (Seriously, anonymous responses given)
- Do regular all-hands meetings
Q: What's the most common mistake you see companies making with employee onboarding, and how does your organization succeed at the process?
A: Thinking you don't need an onboarding process. We designed an app that will take you through all the things and that will explain what we do as a company, what the different departments do, and what we're trying to achieve. We also explain a little bit about the way we do things. The app is called "Your first days at MessageBird."
Q: What was your favorite Cheers you've ever received?
A: "Cheers! I appreciate all your help and valuable insights which you kindly share with me. Thank you for helping me to set everything up. P.S. I will stay cool and mysterious."
Q: How does your organization help your employees recharge or maintain morale?
A: We bought a bunch of old game consoles (NES, SNES, SEGA Megadrive, etc.) on which we try to finish Super Mario with the whole team in one day (without cheats!) and play FIFA matches at the end of our day. And we have Nerf guns laying around to ease the tension with a friendly shout-out. Next to that we go out for dinner every other month and organize movie nights at the office.
Q: What's the one piece of advice you have for any organization or leader out there?
A: Your innovative technology will be copied, your prices matched, but your company's personality is unique and authentic and can't be stolen. Done well, it will give you that competitive edge among competitors. Your culture is the most valued thing you have.