Is a love culture at odds with fast growth?

Chewse calls itself a love company. But, given the refrain of how fast growth kills healthy cultures, people (including our team) ask how this will scale.

What is a love company? It’s one where we live wholeheartedly and bring our hearts to work. That means we deal with the racy topics of emotion and love. You know, things that should never be spoken about at work.

However, I believe that a love company cannot exist without the discipline that growth relies on. The two are deeply complementary. Without discipline and the push for better, you have a free love commune, not a business. Without love, you lack the humanity that makes growth sustainable — you burn people out.

We didn’t build a love company to serve food. 
We serve food to build and spread love to companies.

In millions of offices across the world, people live their 9–5 without authentic connection. Without compassion. Without being seen as human. At the heart of Chewse is the call to bring our hearts to workplaces everywhere. And we can only achieve this mission by being a high-growth company.

We intend to prove out a new way of doing business, where you treat people with compassion and humanity. And we’re not alone. Managed by Q’s Good Jobs Gamble and Buffer’s transparent company philosophy are examples of an industry that doesn’t want to be pegged as replacing the workforce with machines. We want to replace the “workforce” with humans. Which requires companies treating people like humans.

What about holding people to high standards to drive that growth? How can you be loving and also push people — or even let them go? Isn’t that making the choice of growth over people?

Being compassionate requires tough love.

One of the most counterintuitive things I’ve heard was Brene Brown’s interview on compassion, where she says:

The most compassionate people I have interviewed over the last 13 years were absolutely the most boundaried.

Compassionate people are clear in what’s okay and what’s not okay. They choose momentary discomfort over simmering resentment, and they have the tough conversations on behalf of their own well-being and the well-being of others. They don’t let people get away with behaviors that aren’t okay, and that allows them to be truly loving and generous.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard better advice on good management.

When someone isn’t performing, a compassionate manager will hold that person to a high standard and be clear where they aren’t performing, but will also provide the resources and coaching to help their teammate.

I’ll never forget when one of our managers went into momma bear mode. A restaurant partner had mistreated someone on her team. Her manager got on the phone and calmly but firmly told him why this was unacceptable and that she would end our relationship if this kept up. She was fierce. And it ultimately helped the relationship not just survive but thrive — without the resentment.

Managers at a love company must be a fierce advocate for their team on one hand and then turn around and demand the best of their people. They know what their team needs to succeed as a whole, and they know when an individual is adding to or detracting from the team. Which means that sometimes the most compassionate thing you can do is let someone go. If their performance or lack of culture fit is hurting the team, then no one is happy. Not them and not the team. And everyone feels it.

Sometimes in a startup you don’t have the time or resources to help individuals grow on the right path. When that’s a reality, then the most compassionate thing to do could be letting the person go to their next journey and further their learning with better resources.

The strategy behind a love culture

Ultimately, we are a business. We have to make decisions that are good for the company overall. But our purpose is not to maximize shareholder value. As Jack Welch, former CEO of GE — once dubbed “Manager of the Century” — explained, “On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world. Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy… your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products.” Our true purpose is to bring a shift in the way companies think about compassion and growth. Shareholder value follows.

I believe that the best strategy to grow long-term value is to show love to the team: show them you care through compassion coupled with tough conversations. It is in this modeling of love that your team then shows love and delight to your customers. This customer love drives retention, upsell, and referrals, which ultimately drives revenue.

This is how love drives real, sustained growth.

And couldn’t the world use a little more love right now? ❤