Further Thoughts on Culture from UIPath’s founder, Daniel Dines.
A couple of weeks ago, I shared 5 golden rules to consider when building a community-based platform. One of the rules was around Culture and how important it was to factor it in when building out your community. I wanted to explore this rule further and recently had the chance to get further insight on the topic from none other than UIPath founder, Daniel Dines.
UIPath, a Seedcamp company, is known for its culture (which was recently recognised for Happiest Employees and Best Benefits), so recently, when I had the chance to hear Daniel walk us through how he saw his company culture as critical for the success of UIPath, I was keen to hear how he implemented what many feel is a nebulous concept and one that is difficult to roll out within a company with uniformity and with authenticity.
Before sharing Daniel’s thoughts on culture itself, it’s likely worth sharing a little bit about his rationale behind focusing so strongly on culture within UIPath. In his own words, he admits having committed so many mistakes early in his career, that in some ways, UIPath today is simply the manifestation and implementation of lessons learned over those years; mistakes he wishes to avoid for himself and his team in the future. He felt that in order to work somewhere where others could also feel like they could develop, and for him to enjoy working there for his career, he’d have to place his company’s culture front and centre.
His first insight on company culture was that you can’t have too many values/culture KPIs in a company; you have to boil it down to just a few. Whilst it might be tempting to have many, by not focusing on a few, you run the risk of not only confusing your team, but likely not providing enough clarity for them to anchor core decisions around.
At UIPath, for example, he anchors their culture around a core value that works for them: Humility. This Humility is authentic and born out of their roots as founders. They put humility at their core because not only did they see an industry fraught with competitors that didn’t approach customers with humility and consideration, but also because in his words, and from experience: “Engineers can tend towards being prideful in their work, so we needed to encourage them to listen to our customers, thus we evangelise it internally.”
However, UIPath‘s implementation of ‘humility’ as a core value of their culture isn’t limited to just the obvious benefits stated above, but also it helps them hire better and weed-out potentially toxic employees who are only driven by money or other variables that are not relevant. It also helps them make better decisions because no one is trying to save face in meetings… “if you are constantly trying to be the smartest guy in the room, you’re likely not to want to hear when you are wrong”, but by creating an environment anchored around humility, you effectively encourage people to speak up and share+receive feedback.
Lastly, as with everything that is a goal, Daniel shared that they measure the impact of adhering to this cultural value with soft KPIs like the perceived “psychological safety” of employees. In effect, this KPI represents how comfortable employees are in speaking their mind with you as manager.
In conclusion, a strong, clear, and simple culture centered around core values can be be a huge win in many more ways than simply making your company a place you want to work in (although that should be reason enough)!