On Culture

I see a lot of people talking about “culture fit”. I wanted to spend some time telling you what it means to me.

First, let’s establish the baseline. I am an engineering manager at Globality. I have 16+ years of experience in this industry and I worked for and with startups and big companies like HP, Intel, SAP and others. I saw a lot of teams and a lot of “cultures”.

I feel that a lot of people often miss the point when they talk about culture. For a lot of people it’s a term of exclusion, of not being “cool” enough or not participating in the bro “culture” of Silicon Valley (or whatever).

For me, culture is not about whether you watched The Game Of Thrones, Star Wars or any other pop-culture reference, culture is about the way a team and an organization do things and go about the routine of daily work.

Let’s take an example. For us, at Globality, we have a culture of writing Tech Designs for various things. Participating in this culture means that you write it even if you think you don’t need it. We have a culture of doing the right thing for the team even if it’s harder for you at this moment.

I am usually very curt in meetings (without being rude hopefully). However, part of the culture at Globality is to discuss things until it is clear to everyone what you want to achieve and what problem you are trying to solve.

I will gladly discuss things in meetings until it’s clear everyone either buys in or disagree and commit.

Another part of the culture is that you can challenge a decision, even if it is made by a superior. You can and you should challenge, fitting into this is what culture is about. As a manager, this is often challenging to me, frustrating even, but I always remind myself that this is what I expect and this is how we work as an organization.

Personally, I never felt that I am excluding people based on the way they look/talk when I say “culture fit”, it’s always about whether I think you can and want to buy into the way the team does things.

In The Internship they say something about “Who would you rather be stuck with in an airport?”. I also heard this reference as “Who would you rather sit down for a beer with?”. I never hire like that for my teams nor do I think you should. If we can be professional together and adhere to the organization values, it’s a good culture fit. I don’t even FXXXing drink beer.

Conclusion

This was more of thought-dump for me. I had a very interesting conversation about it with a friend and I just wanted to put my thoughts into writing and share them with the world.

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