BLUF: Build a culture that attracts the talent you want.
Provide a package to attract and keep the right talent. The benefits package gets people in the door to make them excited about the opportunity, but it doesn’t always keep them there because priorities change. This is a delicate balance. I have seen pet insurance coverage, college tuition reimbursement, family leave, etc. These are great but what if you don’t have a pet or don’t have time for college. There are some benefits that are great for some but not for all. Here is the biggest thing, if you say you have a benefit, then honor that benefit. I have been a part of a company that touted that they sent developers to conferences and professional development courses, but they never approved any of the requests. We had 100% turn over in less than 2 years for a team of 11 developers at that company. Not because of that one issue, but you can imagine what the rest of the culture was like.
When interviewing candidates make sure you are giving them the correct information and not the smoke and mirrors to get them to accept. If you have problems, then put them on the table. I don’t like wasting my time on a company that told me one thing, but then I saw the truth and it was nothing like what they provided in the interview. The interview is your first step to setting up your culture with a no BS information session.
The opposite is true. If the candidate does not meet your culture needs and characteristics, then don’t hire them. Your culture is what makes people happy and keeps people productive. If you hire someone that injects their own culture and doesn’t fall in line with yours, then you will see the change.
Set your culture expectations from the start. Have new hires know what the culture is with everyone operating the same and instituting that knowledge across the board. You will not always be around, but you want your team to embody the culture that you need to accomplish your mission. There is ownership in this. It is not just your team. It is the team. The team members have as much ownership in the final product as you do. You need to present that way to them and show that you are doing the same thing and providing the same day to day work ethic and culture characteristics that you expect out of them.
Build a culture that provides champions. The strength and scalability of your team/company lies in the fact that you have culture champions. These are the people that follow the culture rules and institute it without being authoritative. People get on board without being persuaded or forced into the culture. If your process was fully engaged, then by this time you attracted the talent with the right benefits package, you hired the candidate that had the right characteristics and skills, and the employees are part of the team and understand what it means to be a team player.
Culture is what makes people jump when you say jump. Culture is what makes people listen to you and perform when the days happen that you need someone to work until 3 A.M. to get the deployment done for release. Don’t take advantage of people’s time because you failed as a leader to plan and execute tasks well.
A couple books to check out is:
Radical Candor by Kim Scott. Kim explains how honesty up front keeps people happy.
Culture eats strategy for lunch – Peter Drucker