22 Feb

What company culture means to me

Every company says they have a great culture. But what does that mean? For some that’s free lunch and ping pong tables, for others it’s remote work and work/life balance.

While those may be a part of culture, they are surface level.

To me company culture comes down to trust.

  • Are you trusted to make decisions and do your work without being micromanaged?
  • Do you trust your teammates to give you direct, honest feedback?
  • Do they trust you to receive that feedback well and use it to do better work rather than starting drama?
  • Do you trust your leaders to take care of your long-term interests?
  • Can you trust that your team member is capable to do their part to hit company goals?

In a previous company the entire product team was regularly blindsided by the sales team and CEO selling features that didn’t exist and had to be built in a rush to meet a contract. That meant we didn’t trust the leadership or sales team.

Once that trust is broken it’s incredibly hard to come back from it.

A gossip problem is solved by taking feedback directly to the person it applies to rather than complaining to someone else.

Trust solves so many problems.

Keep your free lunches, I’d rather have a team that trusts each other over any other company perk.

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6 Responses to “What company culture means to me”

  1. Jesse says:

    Absolutely. Number #1 for me as well. I’m fortunate to be at a company that empirically values trust as one of our key operating mandates. Our founder blogs about company culture a ton as well – you’d probably dig it. His blog is at https://jeffhilimire.com/

  2. I recently applied for a job that offered free lunches.

    They had a lot of other cool company culture stuff, but what you’re talking about here isn’t something I can really see unless I get the job and start working there.

    ConvertKit is still top of my list of companies I want to work for, though ;) And articles like this reinforce that goal.

  3. Franz says:

    Thank you for your thoughts! What did you do to etablish that trust, Nathan?

  4. Bryan says:

    Totally agree, although I’m also interested in your thoughts on what you plan on doing to ensure that becomes a deeply-ingrained part of your company’s culture/DNA. Obviously, saying “I trust you and you should trust me” is nice, but isn’t enough. It’s just as surface-level as ping-pong and free lunches without a concrete plan to make it so.

    How are you going to inspect and measure whether the level of “trust” is changing (in either direction)? I don’t think any company intends to have a culture of a lack of trust… so what are your thoughts on making sure that trust remains part of your company’s DNA? *That* is what I’d be most interested in reading about :)

  5. The question of course is one of incentives. How do you incentivize the behavior you wish to see?

  6. “The highest reach of civilization is a seamless system of trust among all parties concerned.” – Charlie Munger

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