March 4, 2015
In the startup world, we’re constantly talking about the importance of company culture. We define our corporate values and put them on t-shirts and posters all over our offices. But company cultural values don’t mean much until you find yourself in real life situations where they’re put to the test.
I work remotely for AddThis from St Louis, MO. I come into the Northern Virginia office for three days every month to have some quality face time with the team. It’s always an incredible few days of jam packed productivity.
Family Comes First
Last week, when I was in VA at the AddThis HQ, I got a call from my wife that my 8 month old son was extremely congested and that she was taking him to the emergency room to get him some medication and relief. This had happened a few times before, so I wasn’t too concerned.
He ended up staying a night in the hospital and the next day they were saying they may want to keep him for a second night. I knew that I needed to head for the airport and go home. So, I checked with my boss Charlie. He said one thing to me: “family is #1.” Within hours, I was at the airport and headed back to St. Louis to be with wife and son (who’s bouncing back from the gnarly upper respiratory virus).
At our 2015 company kickoff, CEO Rich Harris presented the company with our new company values, including being nimble, sensible, and transparent. My boss Charlie was very nimble in quickly approving the new plan of getting me back to my family as quickly as possible. The situation showed sensibility in that there was no question that family came first. Finally, it showed transparency in that I was upfront with Charlie & team about the situation and they responded with the same level of trust.
It’s so common for corporate culture to look to squeeze profits and productivity out of every employee at any cost. What AddThis did by letting me come home from a work trip early may seem counter productive, but it tells me something important. It shows me that AddThis cares about me and my family. It endears me to the company and the people who I sit in the trenches with. It makes me wanna kick even more ass. I work at the best company in the world.
Helping define your culture and company values is incredibly important. It may seem ephemeral and not important, but it’ll save the day when real life events hit your team, which they will. Your cultural and company values will provide you with a guide for how to care for your company’s most valuable assets: its employees.
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