menu

Katie Burke Says ‘Mind Your Own Business’

Katie Burke Says ‘Mind Your Own Business’
Advertising

Katie Burke, Director on the Marketing team at HubSpot, where she runs media relations, analyst relations, and sponsorships, discusses her company's cultural concepts

Katie Drummond
  • 18 july 2014

Last year, HubSpot’s Culture Code went viral. The SlideShare, created by our CTO and co-founder Dharmesh Shah, inspired comments and compliments from partners, customers, industry experts and competitors alike. The deck itself is remarkable, but to me what’s more important than the document is the degree to which we practice what we preach.

A company’s culture isn’t about ping pong tables, free snacks and perks. It’s about collective expectations for how you hire, fire, and work on a daily basis. People talk a lot about business plans as they relate to the P&L, cash flow, and strategy to beat competitors, but invest very little time and energy into codifying how they actually run and manage the business on a daily basis.

Businesses who ignore their company’s culture do so at their own peril. In a recent study of 15,000 millennials, “people and culture fit” outpaced any other option as their top consideration for employment. You can give out all the t-shirts and swag you want, but the next generation of talent is cognizant of the fact that they’ll spend years of their lives at work.

HubSpot is different. Its founders are committed to building a company that matches how 21st century employees live and work. From the outset, they saw culture for what it could be: a significant competitive advantage in building a company that people want to work at for generations.

Below are five ways your culture can be a competitive advantage, regardless of your industry, geography, or company history:

1. Culture Defines What’s Possible: In a recent TechCrunch articleon culture, MIT professor Bill Aulet quotes IBM’s legendary leader Lou Gerstner as saying: “In the end an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.” Steve Jobs was legendary for his reality distortion field, a series of expectations for his team that were described by most people (including employees) as delusional. Companies don’t make the impossible possible by following the playbook of everyone else before them. They succeed because their organization is defined by a different set of beliefs, and they are able to deliver upon those promises. Organizations that inspire their employees with a defined culture of ingenuity and innovation expect more of their team and achieve more collectively – and their products, marketing approach and customers benefit from that commitment.

2. Culture is Powerful Weapon in the War for Talent: The very best employees in the world are often gainfully employed, not searching the web every day for job openings. As a result, companies need more than a boring job description to stand out from the pack in a highly competitive job market. Defining your culture sets a tone for the type of people you’ll attract, and helps job seekers at the very top of your recruiting funnel get a sense for what makes your company tick. Chipotle uses video to highlight how their company empowers employees to grow, a tactic that allows them to be seen as less of a fast food job and more as a potential avenue for a longterm career. Our neighbors at Wayfair in Boston talk about hiring “go-to people” so that driven individuals know their company could be a great fit for them. An attractive company culture not only helps you recruit, it helps you recruit the right type of person for your working environment.

3) A Strong Culture Empowers Employees to Make Good Decisions:  One of the best known global leaders in company culture is Netflix. Their founder, Reed Hastings, codified the values they expect employees to exhibit in his wildly popular slide deck. But he also saw where traditional mission statements fall short: by outlining values without clarifying an expectation of how they should inform behavior. Next to each value in the Netflix deck is a series of examples of the type of behavior that personifies each trait. For example, “impact” is accompanied by, “you focus on great results rather than process.” Remarkable cultures don’t just inform the C Suite – they empower employees at all levels of the business to follow guideposts for decision making. Every single day, employees make thousands of decisions that can impact your business – giving them a roadmap for how to think about those decisions through the filters of the company’s culture saves time, energy, effort and money.

4) Your Culture is a Promise To Your Customers: Twenty years ago, what people knew about your company was largely controlled by your marketing team. Potential customers had to rely upon written collateral and word of mouth to know what it was like to do business with your organization. Those days are long gone. The gap between the customer and your company is now 140 characters. Any prospect, at any time, can get real-time information about your products or services, and people buy based not only on your product, but on what your company stands for. The percentage of prospects researching HubSpot who visit our management pages for more information has increased the past several years because our customers want to know that we are committed to a great customer experience, care about transforming how business is conducted, and practice what we preach. In the post-Enron era, customers know that what companies believe informs how they operate, so culture helps inspire trust in potential buyers, which not only impacts your brand, but also your bottom line.

5) Done Well, Culture Keeps You Honest: As you scale, grow, open new offices, and add more people, you can no longer rely on a small handful of people or a weekly tradition to keep your company disciplined around your culture. Like it or not, one person can no longer be responsible for interviewing everyone, for checking references, and for holding people accountable to a “no assholes” rule (we have one of those, so does Eventbrite—I’m a huge fan). Although culture has always been a huge part of our business at HubSpot, employees didn’t want to talk much about it because it wasn’t a discussion or a tactic; it was simply the way we were. That approach erodes over time, so investing the time and energy before you lose sight of what makes your company and your team special is imperative. At HubSpot, we view the Culture Code not as a constitution of sorts, but rather like our software, which we are constantly recalibrating to meet the needs of the customers we serve. Dharmesh frequently updates the Culture Code based on employee feedback, insights from trusted advisors and his own self-reflection, and the company’s ongoing commitment to getting it right keeps us all honest about how well we are delivering on our approach to culture at regular intervals throughout the year.

History is filled with companies who made excellence a habit with remarkable company cultures (IBM, GE, Netflix, and W.L Gore all come to mind), but it’s also ripe with companies whose businesses fell due to a lack of accountability and ethics in their organizational practice (like Enron, WorldComm, and Arthur Andersen). Company cultures are not about plaques on the wall or posters in the office. They are about setting a clear vision and expectation for the type of people, work, attitude, and output expected from your team, and holding everyone accountable to that standard. Truly effective company cultures don’t manifest themselves in one person, benefit, or tactic, but rather emulate the values and beliefs that make your company unique.

Culture gets a bad rap in the corporate world for being “soft” in comparison to say, your balance sheet or P&L. But the truth is that codifying, promoting, refactoring, and committing to a differentiated company culture is incredibly hard. However, when your company culture goes beyond jargon and marketing terminology and becomes the fabric of how your organization operates, it stands as a very real competitive advantage.

Trending

Machine Printer Uses Coffee Drips To Create Intricate Portraits

Arts & Culture
Technology december 2, 2016

Why Nest Doesn't Get The Holidays

PSFK founder reacts to the damaging effects of poor email marketing

Children december 2, 2016

Robots Could Be Joining Dubai’s Police Force In 2017

The real-life RoboCops can salute, shake hands and collect traffic fines

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Travel december 2, 2016

Parka Hides And Charges Portable Devices

Bolt is a jacket that lets people carry and charge their various electronics without the need for an outlet

Related Expert

Benjamin White

Digital Accelerator

Food december 2, 2016

Yelp's New 'Yelfie' Feature Lets Diners Take Selfies

The update is designed to encourage people to attach a selfie when they share their experiences

Design & Architecture december 2, 2016

Build Your Own Savory Cheese Advent Calendar

A British food blogger has created a guide to building a different kind of holiday surprise

Fitness & Sport december 2, 2016

Floating Gym Concept In Paris Is Powered By Your Workout

The proposed design from Carlo Ratti Associati lets passengers ride a stationary bike as they travel through Paris along the Seine River

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed december 2, 2016

Customer Service Expert: Why Offline Retail Has Better Data Than Online Retail

Healey Cypher, Founder and CEO of Oak Labs, shares why we should be thinking about the physical store as an e-commerce site

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Syndicated december 2, 2016

What Does The Future Of Android Look Like In A World With The Pixel?

Google’s decision to make its own phone might have looked like a blow to the likes of Samsung but the reality is much more interesting

Fashion december 2, 2016

Alexander McQueen Designs A 3D-Printed Umbrella

3D-printed fashion arrives in time for the winter season

Work december 2, 2016

Why Training Associates To Be Advocates Is Key To Retail Success

In our Future of Retail 2017 report, PSFK Labs discusses strategies to prioritize customer service, which begins with associate advocates

Media & Publishing december 2, 2016

Netflix Creates Binge Candle To Celebrate A New Season Of Gilmore Girls

The streaming service developed a special layered candle that creates candle with episode-specific smells

Arts & Culture december 2, 2016

Interactive Film Tells A Story About Living With Cancer

A moving song written by a father of a cancer patient comes alive in a 3D environment

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Automotive december 2, 2016

Audi And LEGO Exhibit Autonomous Vehicle Installation

The installation at Design Miami explores the 25th hour, which represents bonus productive work or play time

Gaming & Play december 2, 2016

This Game Lets You Be A Pilot In The Drone Racing League

DRL Racing Simulator recreates actual courses in a virtual environment

Travel december 1, 2016

Hotel Chain Is Giving Away Its Not-So-Super Hotel Art At Art Basel

A lesson in how to advertise a kitschy-to-cool redesign in the middle of Miami Art Week

No search results found.