July 17, 2018

We've all heard about the importance of company culture. You may have been told that you're a "good culture fit" when you got hired in at your current job. Or, you might have been rejected because you're not a culture fit.

But what does "culture fit" really mean, and how can a company successfully build a culture that promotes creativity and autonomy while also crushing company goals and outperforming competitors?

In this episode, Claude Silver from VaynerMedia is here to tell us how she helps her organization create and evolve its culture. As VaynerMedia's Chief Heart Officer (more on that in a second), Claude manages to personally know and understand all 800 people within the organization. Her job is to connect with everyone on a personal level to help them develop and get better so that the organization as a whole can continue growing and moving forward. 

Bringing psychology to the world of HR

You're probably wondering, what is a Chief Heart Officer? That sounds like a made-up name. And, well, you're kind of right. The name isn't traditional by any means, but, then, neither is the role. Think of it as sort of a cross between your traditional HR manager and a therapist. With her background in psychology, Claude is able to apply positive psychology to HR to help people perform at their highest potential. 

The fact that Claude holds this position is a prime example of how culture works at VaynerMedia. She has a unique skill set of being formally trained in psychology and human development, combined with a background working as a strategist. She is able to apply all of these skills to the HR function in order to fully understand what motivates and inspires each individual within the organization to develop a strategy to help everyone she meets rise to their full potential. She can do the functional tasks required of HR (as she says, she's able to think "inside the box" when she has to), but her additional skills bring an "out of the box" creativity that keeps the workforce happy and productive. 

When it comes to hiring for other roles, VaynerMedia takes a similar approach. Claude describes the culture as one of addition. Instead of asking "does this person fit our culture" during the hiring process, VaynerMedia asks "will this person add to our culture?" What skills does this person have that will add to the existing team? How will this person bring value to the team? By viewing every hire as an opportunity to bring a new skill to the team, VaynerMedia is able to consistently broaden its reach and add value to its customers.

You might have noticed that I haven't used the word "employee" when describing the VaynerMedia workforce. That's because Claude doesn't like the word. She describes "employee" as nothing more than a title that keeps people in a box. It generalizes people and assumes that everyone with the title "employee" wants the same things and is on the same trajectory. By instead looking at everyone as an individual with their own unique experiences and skills to add to the team and organizational culture, VaynerMedia is able to develop its workforce and grow creatively as an organization.

How to create a high-performing company culture 

So, how does all that translate to high-performing company culture? 

According to Claude, there are three simple but key steps to getting the most out of your workforce: trust your people, give them what they need to do their job well, and listen. 

Sometimes, giving people what they need to do their job well includes offering criticism. Claude refers to this as "radical candor," and stresses the importance of offering helpful, candid feedback to encourage individuals to get better. By offering timely feedback in private and from a place of kindness, not fear or authority, managers and leaders can help their teams get better and move forward.   

You're going to get fired up listening to Claude talk about how VaynerMedia values its workforce, and you might even want to apply for one of their available jobs before the episode is over. Make sure to listen all the way to the end of the episode when Claude reveals the secret sauce for getting your foot in the door at VaynerMedia. It includes having the following: the right skill set for the job, an attitude of possibility, a recognition of purpose, a willingness to work hard, resilience, and, of course, passion.