A message from our CEO, Jonathan Sacks
At PUSH, our company culture forms the basis of everything we do; from the way we interact with clients, to how we work with our diverse regional teams, right through to what is acceptable behavior in the office.
You see, to us, culture is more than just our dog park, or monthly rockstar awards; it’s a series of values that dictate the way we operate, and why we do what we do. We will be talking more about those values in future articles, but in the meantime, I wanted to discuss the importance of defining a culture to us, and what we have experienced as a result.
Like most businesses, we didn’t start out with clearly designed culture. To a certain extent, a company’s culture is dictated by those within the organization itself, and something I’ve learned is the importance of owners and managers being the guardians of that culture, and adhering to something larger than themselves through apportioning responsibility to the business. Put another way, at Push, we have a way of doing things, and it’s my job as the primary guardian of the business, to ensure that actions taken by everyone in the organization, reflect our values and culture. That means, empowering managers to make decisions based on what PUSH-as a hypothetical entity-would do. In a sense, the business itself has become a personification for how we should act, and interact with each other, our clients and our prospects; our look and feel, if you like.
The best example I can offer is the way we choose new staff members. In the beginning, recruitment was fairly reactive; we would hire based on requirement, and whoever ticked most of the boxes was offered a job. The thing is, while our retention rate was good, we found ourselves in a position where we were ending up with people that ticked most of the boxes, but not all of them. For example, we would hire people who could technically do a role, but weren’t proactive, and didn’t like to take the initiative – which is very important to us. Now, we can interview based on this, but asking questions like that flat out, just encourages candidates to embellish facts.
The answer lay in our company culture. Instead of asking more questions, we told the story of PUSH; from its origins, through to how we became the largest supplier of promotional talent in North America. Through this narrative, we were demonstrating who could thrive in our environment, and equally, those who would be better served elsewhere. We encouraged candidates to talk about how they would see themselves in an environment like ours – highly energetic, diverse and perhaps at times annoyingly loud. We have heaps of fun in the office, but there is a lot of pressure, which comes as a result of each person setting high expectations for themselves and others.
When interviewing based on culture, we discovered that candidates would eliminate themselves, if not literally, it will become apparent quickly who was excited about working in a culture like ours, and who would become frustrated.
We have echoed this approach through to other parts of our business, allowing the core narrative to be the dominant force in promotion, internal rewards, and our management ethos.
A big part of our success in establishing our culture has been clarity around what it is. Paying attention to who we are, and, importantly, who we aspire to be, has been crucial as we continue to develop and grow. Reaching the point where we could confidently ask the question, “is this who we are?” made decision-making far easier, almost as if there is another person in the room, reminding us of our original vision.
While our culture will continue to develop, and we will remain fluid as it does, our fundamental values and vision will remain the same. Through defining, and understanding who we are, we have put ourselves in a position where we can move more quickly, do more things properly, and have more fun.