Start-Ups are notoriously predictable when it comes to articulating their company culture; ditch the dress-code policy, provide the occasional free pizza, throw a ping-pong table in the corner and all of a sudden you can begin to start boasting that you're on the verge of developing a Google, Zappos or Facebook company lifestyle. Many companies also forget that whilst the addition of an XBox, work-from-home policy and company outings are all well and good, your culture should be more of an ambience instead of bold brash statements of extravagance. We're not saying that we've got it right, but at AutoDeal.com.ph, our approach has focussed on the manner in which we treat our team and rally them around the product that we're building. Hell, we must be doing something right, given the number of staff we've been able to re-hire since the untimely decline of our previous start-up.
I touched upon the subject of how to make people care some time ago, giving my opinion about how certain companies go wrong when providing incentives or fail to understand that there is such a fine line between providing sufficient reward and being just damn right condescending. "Everyone is different" - a simple fact and paradigm of basic humanity that governs a large portion of AutoDeal.com.ph's approach to people management.
The start comes with the environment in which your team work in. At AutoDeal, we're lucky, our involvement with FutureNow Ventures has provided us with definitely the best physical space for any start-up in the Philippines. Our digs on Jupiter Street, Makati is not only an ideal location in relation to proximity to our clients, but also due to the facilities in general; which happen to be modern, secure and spacious.
Good equipment produces good results.
Aside from that we try our upmost to provide staff with the equipment that they truly desire. Do you ever remember in school, when you got a brand new notebook to write in? You'd always try your damn hardest to make your handwriting as neat as possible. Good equipment produces good results: something that thousands of years of human conquest has proven time and time again. When the margins between buying good equipment and bad equipment are often so small, who really gives a shit about a P10,000 difference in the price of a laptop - if you're that concerned about budget, bin your free meals and sell your Playstation, because ultimately, your team taking pride in their work is going to be more crucial to employee relations than if whether or not they got two pieces of chicken-joy last Thursday.
Good academics doesn't necessarily create good employees.
After environment comes attitude. I've heard it far too frequently from start-up founders that they only hire staff from prestigious universities like De La Salle, Santo Tomas and Ateneo. If we've learnt anything from the mainstream portrayals of the likes of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, surely it's that an outstanding academic resume is not always a precursor to innovation and success. For us, attitude, the ability to perform independent-action and a desire to constantly better oneself are things we try to determine in our somewhat horizontally laid back recruitment "process". After all it's the fight in the dog, not the dog in the fight, which is why we look for individuals who are hungry to better themselves. So while it may appear sensible to hire from elitist institutes, perhaps you should take a longer look at the less entitled graduates who have worked hard to find scholarships or self-funded their way through less prestigious institutes before making it to your job interview.
When it comes to retention, many founders think that strong employee retention is something to be ludicrously happy about. For me, I make it blatantly clear in every first interaction with a new employee that I don't expect them to work with me or for me forever. Only individuals who are hungry to better themselves are going to give your company the propulsion it needs to move forward, which is why simple acknowledgement of an employees success or pleasing performance can outweigh a material reward. After-all we shouldn't be conditioning team members to act in a specific way to achieve reward, but to adapt, innovate and overcome.
flooding your company manuals with a plethora of cliché terminology does nothing to show the uniqueness of your institute.
In closing, at Auto Deal we find it important not to chase mirroring the perks of other multi-billion dollar companies, but to a company culture that reciprocates our teams pride and passion in what they do day in day out. If you don't believe me, just feel free to ask them, they're easy enough to find. As a founder, it's our jobs to set the tone and culture of our company, while you may find some inspiration by reading books like Delivering Happiness, you ultimately won't find the answer. Also, please refrain from the use of buzzwords like "Innovate" and "Teamwork" from your company literature; flooding your company manuals with a plethora of cliché terminology does nothing to show the uniqueness of your institute and things such as Innovation and Teamwork should be so innate and rudimentary to a start-up as breathing is to life.
If you're interested in joining our team or want to find out more about our company culture. Feel free to contact us at email@example.com or drop by our office on Jupiter Street for a chat and a beer.