Culture Eats Perks for Breakfast | Promise Phelon, CEO, TapInfluence | Guest Blog Post

Game room, free lunch, fully stocked kitchen, on-site barista, and free beer. These elements of a job description are used to capture the the attention of industry talent.

However, it’s not what truly engages or retains them. In today’s technology field, perks are a game of one upmanship in the recruiting wars and while they may land you some good people, your best people stay for the culture that underlies the glossy perks.

Culture is a very different animal, but unfortunately I often see it conflated with perks. I understand the value of perks for both businesses and their employees. At TapInfluence, I want to make our office an enjoyable place for people to work, and providing creature comforts helps employees stay in the game. But perks should simply be an extension of culture, not a mask for a weak one.

I’ve developed the metaphor of an iceberg to visually represent our culture roadmap. What can be seen above the surface is such a small part of what drives us, that’s where perks lives. What can’t be seen is the deep work we all do everyday to build an enviable culture. This is where our executive team and leadership focuses our attention.

It’s not easy; hard work never is. But if you don’t define your own bespoke culture, it will be defined for you. Without a strong, defined culture you cannot reap the innovative business outcomes, high engagement teams and potential that’s within reach.

One of the foundational elements of our iceberg is Ownership Culture which takes many forms but the most obvious is Equity. For everyone. We are all owners of TapInfluence. I believe in investing in our people, every one of them. I ask a lot of each employee and as owners of the company they will see the fruits of their labor. It’s not an environment that works for just anyone, but for the ones who are willing to take the risk with passion and enthusiasm, there is a potentially high reward.

Another element is transparency. We focus on being operationally transparent including the way we talk to each other–straight talk, no BS. It’s about outcomes rather than effort. I believe in harnessing intrinsic motivations, helping people become better versions of themselves is critical to their happiness and our joint success. Transparency builds trust and creates an environment where autonomy and mastery can take hold. Employees are encouraged to lean into their roles and push themselves to become ever better creators. The more the team is included and understands that their voice matters, the more invested they are in the organization.

So if you’re thinking about what fun and unique perks you can roll out, first consider how they fit your culture. As CEO, I know that my actions and behaviors set the tone for the company. Whether it’s perks or other policies we implement, I know they will contribute to our culture and build a sustainable competitive advantage that no fancy espresso machine alone can compete with.

This is a guest blog post by Promise Phelon, CEO of TapInfluence and soon to be Business of Software Conference USA speaker. You can see her, and the likes of Gail Goodman, Dharmesh Shah, Jason Fried and more at Business of Software Conference USA on 12-14 September 2016.

Promise also will be holding a free Ask Me Anything on the topic of culture on August 25th, 1100EST. It’s live, and you’ll leave with a better sense of how to implement a great culture in your company. To be reminded before the event goes live, register your interest below.

Remind me about the Promise Phelon AMA, August 25th, 11o0EST

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