Values matter. Not only for large companies, but especially for startups. Over the course of my time working for a VC, I’ve seen companies struggle with the absence of a proper value system more than with anything else.
The dethronement of Uber and its battered image is a powerful example of what happens if you neglect building a proper corporate culture and pursue the wrong values.
Growth requires fundamentals
In the beginning of the life of a company every employee sits in the same room as you, the founder. You watch them and they watch you. There is clear transparency on values, even though they are not written down. Everyone sees how they are lived.
If you grow from a small company with less than 10 employees into one with more than 50 or even more than 500 employees, the leadership team does not see every employee anymore. And you also don´t see how your team leaders are leading their employees. Do they still live up to your values? The issue becomes even more salient if you operate in different locations.
Implicit and explicit values
Every company has a corporate culture. But it’s up to you to define its nature and check if it’s aligned with your company goals to double up on power and speed. You may have a good compass for your values and people watching you may understand them. But they might be missing a navigation system helping them to take decisions when you are not around.
And in case a single team leader is not behaving according to these values, each and every one should have the right and even better the duty to remind him of these values. But that requires a shift from implicit to explicit values. You need to define them and make them binding.
For instance, if your CTO is an excellent architect, but a lousy team leader, should you tolerate it because he is such a brilliant guy and you don’t want to let him go? No! You can’t tolerate it as it will destroy your culture.
Every employee would observe that you are willing to compromise your principles if other benefits are given. Either you make him change or you redefine his role making him the chief architect without disciplinary responsibilities. If none of that works, you have to dismiss him.
Wrong values exist
Defining your values takes time and doesn’t bring your company forward immediately, but missing this exercise will hinder your company to grow later on. There are many examples of company values available online the most prominent probably being Netflix‘s. You don’t…
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