MVF founder Jules Hopkinson talks about his experience of scaling company culture within MVF. He explains how company culture is crucial - it is a reflection of the people that sit within the business and it's the people in the business that spot the opportunities.
Set your values high
Scaling that culture comes down to having an agreed set of values. Having the right values defines your culture, so that as you scale you know what it is you're looking for in your people. This means you can hire more of those people because you know you've got a formula for attracting the right sorts of people. It’s always about people and character. When recruiting, spend more time screening for character than for skill. While skills can be learned, it is much harder to cultivate attitude and character. This practice, known as “hire for attitude and train for skill,” was pioneered by Southwest about 40 years ago. Once you’ve hired the right people, treat them right. The best long-term retention strategy is to mentor people toward meaningful roles. Within MVF specially what matters more than any extrinsic rewards is pushing and developing people towards their full potential.
Aim for Longevity
Scaling company culture is important for the longevity of the business and for it to thrive after its founders have moved on. In order for a company to prosper it is dependable on great people and culture, and great people and culture are affiliated most with high performing organisations. Fundamental to the company culture of MVF are what employees feel when they come to work, and what clients feel when they do business with the company. The founders believe they have been lucky enough to hit upon the right culture, and now are working to preserve and scale it.
Give your People Purpose
Jules has observed some important principles for building and scaling a culture that can live beyond a set of founders to become a lasting institution. The company must start with purpose, so from the outset you need to understand the cause behind your brand and why your company is focusing on what it is doing. This is about mission, not marketing. What calling does your business serve? This should feel authentic, inspirational, and aspirational. Leaders must reflect the firm’s values and standards, thus leading by example. They must be the strongest representations of the firm’s culture and purpose, not just writing or memorising the mission statement, but rather adopting and exemplifying what the company stands for.
Secondly, the business must define common language, values, and standards. Great cultures need a common language that allow people to actually understand each other: first, a common set of values, which are the evergreen principles of the firm, and second, a common set of standards by which a business will measure how they’re upholding those principles. A cohesive culture will happen only when you have common language, common values, and common standards.
Pursue, project, and act with truth. This falls under the company values category, self-awareness and truth-seeking are crucial. This may also be called integrity, but truth seeking and self-awareness are slightly different. If integrity is best described as “doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching,”(C.S. Lewis) then truth-seeking and self-awareness are about having the ability to be completely honest about your own strengths, weaknesses, and biases. This applies not only to the leadership team, but every single employee in order to create an authentic and strong culture that can scale up with ease as the company grows.