What does Culture really mean?

What is culture? Is it free lunches? Ping pong tables? A “vibe” at the office? The majority of 2017 was listening to people talk about “culture” and how it’s so important to have a strong culture and an awesome culture. It was spent reading job descriptions about how amazing “our” company culture is. It was spent listening to panels talk about the importance of a strong culture. But the one thing I noticed continually throughout the year in and out of the tech world was that very few teams could clearly articulate what their culture was.

Everyone used the words of the day, diversity, inclusion, fun. But when pushed for how or why they couldn’t get deeper. These companies aren’t bad companies and many of them have an amazing work environment but here’s the thing. If you can’t clearly communicate what your culture is how can you guarantee to maintain it? How can you help it evolve if you can’t articulate what it is?

I rarely write from a Hubba standpoint, but I am today not just because it’s the best (shameless plug) but because our founder and our leadership team have stepped upped beyond the words of the day to really instill a culture, and help evolve our culture as we continue to grow.

Yes, we are a diverse and inclusive company. That however is a byproduct of our culture not actually our culture. Yes, we are fun, we do typical start up activities, but again not our culture but a byproduct of our culture.

What is Hubba’s culture is a question I’m asked on every single call and in every single interview. Sometimes I wonder if they care (sometimes they don’t!) and sometimes I wonder if they just hear it so much they think they are supposed to ask (majority of the people). Very rarely does the candidate actually know what they are looking for in a company culture.

So, let me articulate to you our corporate culture. What I tell people when they ask, and often even when they don’t! We are a group of selfishly selfless people. We all want this business to be wildly successful because we; believe in what we are building; want to be part of the next huge Canadian IPO; all want to open the NYSE, or what some people say here “I want to hit that button and turn the whole city orange!”. We know that the only way to attain these “selfish” successes is by being selfless in our work. By supporting our team, picking up where people may have had to drop off, by empowering our more junior employees to take risks and see what new ideas come out of them, by pushing our leadership to think differently and about a thousand other examples of the way our people support, empower and motivate each other daily. We are selfishly selfless.

We are a culture of opinions. We are opinionated. Very. Very opinionated. And this is coming from someone who is VERY opinionated! People here need to have opinions. We don’t want “yes” people for every single task, we want people that will question, make suggestions, push us all to think bigger and broader. We don’t hire strictly for skill sets, we hire for passion, motivation, drive and the ability to have independent thoughts and ideas.

We are a culture built on trust. We have faith in each other. We believe that everyone who comes on board is bringing something new with them and we want to learn it. We spend an inordinate amount of free time together doing things because we want to, because we look for people who beyond skills are good people, who want to be in a better world. We trust when we delegate, and we catch each other right before we fall off a cliff (don’t do it earlier or we’ll never learn!).

We are a culture that looks beyond the today. We care about your wellbeing and your future. Our benefits package reflects that and not because we’re using it as a sales tactic, but because we believe the coverage we provide helps keep our employees well cared for in whatever they need. We don’t invest in their RRSP’s because it’s a good recruiting tactic but because a lot of these hires are young, they are just starting their careers, they have school debt, and this is a good way to help them start thinking about their future. Our mentorship program exists because we have people who have things to share and people that want to learn and have someone to lean on. This is how you build healthy leaders for the future.

Our culture has evolved both consciously and unconsciously into a team that is diverse, inclusive and maintained by each and every employee here. To have new ideas and new perspectives you need a mix of people, places, experiences and skill sets. And yes, we also have fun and we are awesome but again that’s a byproduct of the effects of above. You don’t have to want to spend every waking hour with us, we just want you to really want to be here when you are.

So, for all the leaders and job seekers out there, know what kind of culture you want to build and be a part of. Be able to articulate, emulate it and help build it.

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