Culture alignment is the single best predictor of career success. When a human is aligned with the culture of their employer, team or tribe, they care more, they feel at home, they are family, and they perform at high levels. As circumstances in healthy growing companies change, culture evolves.
Family businesses, small companies, startups may begin as a loyalty culture to a culture of owed-respect. When a company is growing, has more resources and puts a premium on growth, culture evolves from owed-respect to earned-respect, from a loyalty culture to a performance culture. In living, breathing, healthy companies, culture evolves.
I was reminded of this during the ConnectPreneur Conference last week where I had the opportunity to sit down for a fireside chat with Dan Berger, the dynamic founder and CEO of Social Tables, one of DC’s most healthy growing companies.
I first met Don in 2011 and I was one of the first Angel Investors to stroke him a check. I sat on his board and for a while, he was a member of my peer advisory group. In one of our coaching sessions Dan, and I discussed a methodology to define and get team buy-in to a well-defined, intentional corporate culture.
Dan was wrestling with a skilled senior employee who was constantly negative. He would push back on most requests with, “I can’t do that.”
Dan and I developed a strategy to get his team to buy-in to a positive culture of high performance. Dan went back to his team with a vision of the culture he desired and then he and his team defined the Social Tables Culture that Dan had envisioned. They agreed on several cultural traits, one of which is still my personal favorite core value of all times… Yes, If (to learn more about that see Dan’s culture blog from 2015 here). We are a “Yes If” culture. Yes, if you give me more resources. Yes, if you give me more time. Yes, if…
Back to the fireside chat, which by the way, was not beside a fire. I asked Dan about, “Yes If,” and how has that worked out. I then asked about an incident that I witnessed while a member of the company’s board of directors. In 2015 a board meeting was inconveniently scheduled to take place in the middle of a pesky weather event… a blizzard. One of the board member’s wanted to reschedule. I had the meeting on my calendar for 6 months and wouldn’t be able to free up for another meeting for months. I pushed to have the meeting go as scheduled. Dan agreed, and I trudged to Social Tables China Town office through more than a foot of snow.
What impressed me when I arrived at the office? The majority of Dan’s team made it to the office. DC’s Metro Subway system was closed because it was a Wednesday (WMATA shuts down on days that end in a Y). DC was shut down due to snow. But Social Table’s customers all over the world showed up for work and all the Social Tables team all yes-if’d themselves to work.
I asked Dan about that event and his answer was priceless and wise. He explained that back then, the average age of a Social Table’s employee was 22. None were married. None had kids. In those days, another cultural trait was, “ship all day, party all night.” Dan expected and Dan’s team put in ungodly hours.
Today, his average employee age is 29. Many are married with children. His company evolved and with it, culture evolves. Today’s culture reflects the evolution of the company and the team. Companies either move or die. Social Tables is a healthy, growing company. Social Tables evolves… at Social Tables, culture evolves and thrives
Want to talk about your company culture? Want to discuss how you can create a culture where 12 puny inches of snow does not stand in the way of the team serving its clients? Try a one-hour, complimentary, online coaching session. Schedule it now by pressing that little red button down there.
Notice: I am an investor in Social Tables.