Praiseworthy Blog

Positive Company Culture Doesn’t Just Happen

Positive company culture doesn’t just happen.  It grows from the people that make up your company. That’s why it’s important to think about your attitude, and that of your employees, when building a company.  Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.

Don’t Just Hire Anyone

This was something I never realized when previously running Nom Nom Truck, and it took me almost 3 years to figure out this important business lesson.  When we first started the truck, we basically hired anyone who applied – no screening needed.  Anyone could make a sandwich, right?  Boy, were we wrong.  Once we saw employee retention at a much lower level than the average in our industry, and saw that team morale was fairly low, we knew we had to go back to square one, and re-do our hiring process.

Find That Needle In A Haystack

Good thing we learned from our mistakes!  By the last year we were in business, we changed our hiring saying from “anyone can make a sandwich” to “at the end of a shift, a great Nom Nom employee can not only make a great sandwich, but also have a great attitude.”  For one position, we would receive over 100 applicants for each week the ad was up, and we would narrow it down after 2 weeks.  We knew we were looking for a needle in a haystack, and that’s how it always should be.  Nom Nom Truck had shifts that sometimes ran up to 4 hours.  Lines could be over 100 people long.  We would sell out of food and have to tell people waiting for 2 hours that we ran out.  I still remember the last year we were in business – even though our SF team would be under a lot of pressure, the environment would still be a fun place to work, and we got through some tough times together.

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At Nom Nom, lines could be 100+ people long. It was integral to build a great team that could work together in difficult situations and overcome any challenges that would arise.

Who Would You Like To Spend 2,080 Hours/Year With?

When we hired Jeff, instead of experience, we hired based off of personality.  For us, grit and humor are key traits we need in every additional member we add to the team.

When I ended Nom Nom Truck, I knew I had to take this hiring lesson to heart when starting my next company.  I applied this same lesson when we made our early hires for Praiseworthy. For example, in engineering, we hired based off of personality, rather than the typical years of experience a standard startup evaluates.  In fact, when hiring our current lead engineer, Jeff, he had only been an engineer for 1 month, having just graduated from App Academy.  Three months earlier, he had never even written a line of code.  Instead of hiring purely based off of skill, we look for hustle, grit and discipline.  We look for a great sense of humor, where it’s okay to be goofy and have fun.  All of these traits are not only transferred into our company culture, but also into our product, and they make up an integral core of Praiseworthy.

As you grow, you must follow this rule because hiring doesn’t necessarily get to be an easier process.  For our most recent position, Head of Growth, we went through over 1,000 applications and it took over 60 days to find the right fit for the position.  It was a lot of work; I wouldn’t say it was always fun, sifting through so many resumes, and interviews.  But if I’m going to spend the majority of my time with someone, you’d better believe that I will pick a stellar person, someone who is not only awesome at their job, but also a fun human being who brings a lot of love to our company and culture.

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This focus on company culture has paid off – I absolutely love working with the people on my team every day.  That is only because we search far and wide for that needle in a haystack – the person we’re open to spending 2,080 work hours/year with, and going on the journey of building a company with.  Only through this process can you build a positive company culture you love and a company that thrives – through both the good times and the bad.

What about you?  What do you think about this lesson?  Have you experienced the same lesson when making key hires for your company?  It would be great to get your feedback below.

P.S.  After our experience at Nom Nom Truck and building that company culture, we knew we had to build a tool that measured company culture, so that others had the insights needed to start building a great company culture.  If you are interested in getting a demo of our product, you can find out more here.

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