How to Define Your Recruitment Company’s Culture, with Bretton Putter, Ep #47

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By Mark Whitby. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

If you have ambitions to scale your recruiting and staffing business, then developing your company culture needs to be one of your top priorities.

On The Resilient Recruiter podcast, I’ve interviewed many founders of fast-growing recruitment companies and they all agree on the importance of creating the right culture. But what does that really mean and how do we achieve it?

“Nine out of ten companies do not have a strong functional culture.”

My special guest, Bretton Putter of CultureGene explains what makes a company culture strong and functional and why it should matter to you as a recruitment business owner. Brett also explains how to address a degrading company culture environment, especially in this challenging time of the pandemic where most employees are forced to work remotely.

Brett is an expert on company culture development. He is the founder and CEO of CultureGene, a Culture Leadership Platform helping high-growth companies build strong, functional cultures.

Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [1:25] What is company culture and why it is important for growth companies?
  • [3:35] Codifying the culture development process - what it means.
  • [8:28] Why invest time to be intentional on your culture versus just having one by default?
  • [13:30] “There is no right or wrong culture, it is either strong and functional or weak and dysfunctional” What makes a culture functional?
  • [21:55] Hear the initial steps you should take when starting the culture development journey.
  • [32:55] Why it is impossible to hire based on “culture fit” and why you should hire for values instead.
  • [35:49] How to address degrading company culture in a remote environment.
  • [42:20] Brett talks about one of the most challenging experiences he has to overcome.
  • [48:30] Brett tells the story of having lunch with Nelson Mandela.

“The way we do things right here”

Our conversation started off with how Brett would define “company culture.” He gave a straightforward response, “My definition, or the definition I like of company culture, is the way we do things around here. Which is like an all-encompassing thing, but that is deliberate. Because company culture really is the DNA of your organization and it drives everything.”

Brett also raised very two important points when talking about its importance.

  1. Where we are and how our company is adapting around this time of the pandemic is really driven by our culture.
  2. The most important thing we have to think about is that your company culture is degrading over time in most cases.

Listen to the whole conversation as Brett and I drill down further on these key points.

Invest Time to Design Your Culture

If you are a small startup, you might have hesitations about investing time to design and codify your culture. Why does it make sense to not just settle for a default culture and way of working and be proactive in designing your company culture? After doing deep-dive interviews with 50+ leaders who took it upon themselves to build a functional culture, Brett mentioned a number of solid benefits. Some of the payoffs that were mentioned are:

  • Quoting David Cummings, “Company culture is the one sustainable competitive advantage that you have complete control over.”
  • The glue to your team is your company culture - without it, you will not get the right behaviors.
  • It helps you attract better talent.
  • Among other things, having a functional culture can help your company out-position others that do not.

The CEO Must Get It

Taking the culture-building journey starts with the most important step: the CEO must get it. Culture starts from the top and trickles down below. Brett discussed the critical parts of creating a functional and strong culture:

  • Define your values. This involves understanding two things:
    • What the actual current culture is?
    • What is the aspirational culture?
  • Define the expected behaviours against your values. This involves being really clear with how the members should interpret these values.

Listen to how Brett illustrates the above critical points as well as their practical application.

Bretton Putter Bio and Contact Info

Prior to founding CultureGene Brett ran an international executive search firm working with high-growth tech companies to expand their senior executive teams in Europe and the US. His first book Culture Decks Decoded was published in 2018 and his second book, Own Your Culture: How to Define, Embed and Manage your Company Culture was published in September 2020. He writes a popular blog on culture-driven companies and is a sought-after speaker.

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