Oct 14, 2010

How a CEO can build a strong Organizational Culture

Great post on the VentureBlog Advice on Building Company Culture Wonder how many CEOs can follow this list :-)
And in a recent talk given by Scott Weiss, former CEO of IronPort, he enumerated the many things that he did maintain a strong and unified culture at IronPort. Scott is a widely respected leader and CEO, and one need look no further than his list to understand why -- Scott suggests the following 20 rules of thumb while building a company for 0 to 250 employees:

1. Interview every new employee (until 50 then interview everyone that will manage others)
2. Spend 30 minutes per week on Mondays talking to new employees as part of their first day. Stop by their desk within a month to see how things are going.
3. Have lunch with every employee (After 50 you can take 2 out at a time) and get to know them not only by name but some details about them.
4. Hold at least one all hands meeting (at least two execs should speak, not just you) every quarter
5. Go over the real board slides after every board meeting – let everyone know what was discussed.
6. At every meeting with all employees, you must set aside 30 minutes for questions and press for no fewer than 5.
7. An email (or internal blog) to all after every customer trip, conference attended or major news from a competitor e.g. notes from the road
8. Personally roll out the values, strategy, and history of the company during a comprehensive employee orientation within the first 90 days.
9. Attend every company function, event and party as though you are the host
10. Review every significant communication to ALL and ask your team to review yours before it goes out.
11. Give a performance review to your direct reports at least twice per year, spending no less than 5 hours preparing each person’s review and at least an hour giving it. Get 360 feedback in person.
12. Set annual and quarterly goals (between 2-5 is about right although I prefer three) as a company as well as each individual employee.
13. Promote mainly from within and always based solely on performance.
14. Personally roll out the performance review process to everyone – you are the lead speaker, not human resources.
15. Emphasize "speaking up" as a value every time you get the chance (e.g. interviews, evaluations, all hands, employee orientation and lunches)
16. Follow the rules e.g. fly coach, park in the back lot, have a modest office
17. Constantly demonstrate that no task or chore is beneath you. E.g. Fill the coke machine, clean up after a group lunch, pack a box, and carry the heavy crap.
18. When a team has to work a weekend, you need to be there too - even if it's just to stop by and buy them a meal to show your appreciation.
19. When something really goes wrong, you need to take all the blame.
20. When something really goes right, you need to give all the credit away.