When I joined GoDaddy in January, I talked to hundreds of small teams and individuals about what they hoped I would change, and what they most feared I would change. They knew me as a “product guy” from my previous roles, so it was no surprise that the near-universal response to the former was “deepen our technological roots and make our products better.”
I was a bit surprised by their most common fear. They worried that I would change the culture of the company. The culture was described as bold, scrappy, edgy and fun—we put our shoulder in to break down walls and “get shit done.” In my eight months here I’ve learned that all of that is true. But all those descriptors are positives and when discussing culture, I didn’t hear a single negative. It was as if positive attributes of the culture were above the table and negative ones were below—one owned as “who we are” and the others pushed down as “problems we face.”
All companies—without exception—have a culture that contains both positive and negative attributes. As humans, I think it’s in our nature to want to parse our positive qualities from the negatives ones, and only emotionally own the good stuff. And just as with people, disowning the negative attributes of your company culture means that the bad stuff is ignored instead of fixed.
So it turns out that sometimes we put shoulder in to break down walls that should never have been there in the first place. And sometimes we’re scrappy when some structure would have served us better, but never took the time.
I’ve been spending a lot of time looking under the table at the culture we never discussed before and bring those attributed to the light of day. I’m not finding any more (or any less) than the other great technology companies I’ve worked for in that past—just one’s unique to us. On top of the table, they’ve been much easier to tackle, and it’s wonderful to see our culture get better and better every day.
Have you seen the same in your group or company? I’d love to hear your story.
Photo: Jack Crossing