Culture: Why it matters in your HRTECH company.


Thomas keynote

Last week I was in Cascais, Portugal. It is a beautiful place. Running along the coast road in the gentle sun was bliss.  My main purpose for being there was my first in person event in some time. I was speaking at the Beqom’s company meeting. I’ve worked with beqom for the last couple of years, and I’ve known them pretty much since their inception. Stephan, the COO is a dear friend of mine.

I’d forgotten how much fun it is to present at a company kick off; the sensible covid-19 precautions of masks indoors, testing and lots of outdoor time not-withstanding. Once I saw this picture I admitted I needed a haircut, urgently. 

Talking at an all-company meeting is a bit different from a sales or product kick off, and in my talk, I focused on the broader organization. SaaS is so much about the second S, after all.  Building longevity in a software business requires all the pieces of the business work together. I spent some time on the broader market dynamics, and how specialized vendors can play a vital role in the HRTECH ecosystem. I explored the building dynamics of the large enterprise. I reminisced a bit about how HRTECH has grown since the Lyons Tea Room payroll. I dusted off some old metaphors and tried out a couple of new ones. I riffed a good bit about continuous delivery and its hip twin, continuous discovery. I rambled on about my youth in presales too. (Dave Kellogg has a couple of great posts on demos etc.) I ran over time, but no one left the room. 

This post isn’t just about my keynote though. I internalized something quite profound this week.  Talking with and listening to Fabio, the CEO, I was struck that building a resilient and long-term business is really about establishing a culture, and reinforcing it, deliberately.  How you onboard new hires into the culture, pass on the legends and create new ones,  establish and inculcate the values are really fundamental.  This doesn’t happen by accident. In the company awards ceremony, the HR administrator got an award, and received the loudest cheer. After al, If you are selling HRTECH it makes especially good sense to have good HR. 

 I think an all company meeting is important. Creating the connections as you grow, between sales and support, or product and consulting need more than just serendipity, especially in our ever more distributed world. (Great post by James Governor on distributed work btw).

I’ve had the pleasure to meet many founders over the years, and when I look back at those that are successful, almost always boils down to how they think deeply and deliberately about building the organization culture.