I was really excited this week to go to my first EVER tech event, hosted by one of Personably’s customers, Paws.com. ‘High Velocity Culture: Growing up without Slowing up’ was just what it said on the tin and much more (dogs EVERYwhere!🐶).
I’ve only just started my adventure into the tech start-up world and so to have been in the same room with people who have worked at some of the largest and most barrier-breaking tech companies in the world was a welcome that would be hard to equal!
Sophie Devonshire drew from the panelists examples of how each have dealt with, personally and within a company, growth at a rapid rate and how this might positively or even negatively affect the company itself.
There were plenty of beautiful quotes, golden nuggets of advice and brilliant analogies shaping the talks into an engaging and light-hearted evening. There were three themes that kept on coming up as the main pillars for building a positive over-arching culture for a start up: People,Culture and Vision
Each of the seven panelists had differing methods, tips and their dos & don’t’s. Here’s a small summary of what I thought were the most important points.
People and hiring🤝
Make sure you’re not hiring someone just because they tick the boxes. Having the 'right' education or background does not make them the 'right' candidate. Hire for their potential and on whether they will contribute to the company culture. Try and involve the teams who will be working with the new hire in as much of the process as possible too. Once you have hired don’t be afraid to act quickly if it looks like you have made a mistake. It's better to be honest from the out-set and it's in their interests as well, to find somewhere that suits them better.
Your culture comes, in part, from hiring the right people from the beginning, but then continuing to invest in and engage them. Whether it be group dinners or activities, or a morning ritual unique to your team, you have to build a real connection with those you work with. The more you invest in your employees, teams and colleagues the more they will invest in improving the company and its culture.
Where are you taking the company? It may seem like a big question but it’s made up of lots of smaller questions - what are your values as a start-up and as individuals? Where do your priorities lie? Who are you building for?
The panelists seemed to agree that if you can get the right people and encourage the right culture you are more likely to have a team and company who share your vision and will thus be able to make big decisions independently in line with that.
Diversity, equality, hierarchy and inclusivity were also big topics that came up throughout the evening, particularly when the audience got involved. As Kate Burns - a Venture Partner at Hambro Perks - put it, the state of equality is ‘grim’ but it’s improving… slowly. Gender equality and internationality were both recognised as important aspects in building a diverse but strong team.
How? - in the hiring stages, pay attention to the specific words being used and whether your culture is inclusive. For example, a culture of long working hours isn't conducive to a positive atmosphere for those with young families or whether you have a variety of team activities that can include everyone. As mentioned before - avoid hiring someone just because they tick the 'right' boxes. When someone has been given a unique opportunity to progress they'll fight to grow into it.
I’m now in my second week at Personably, and already feel well established and at home. Of course I would, we have just the tool to make the perfect onboarding program 😉! However, it’s not just the sessions of teaching that have made me feel so, but also the coffee and lunch breaks, the friendly team and a shared appreciation for Personably’s values. I can’t wait for what more there is to come.