I can simply describe company culture as the shared philosophy of an organization. It’s the way people feel about the work they do, the values they believe in, where they see the company going and what they’re doing to get it there. Collectively, these traits represent the personality — or culture — of an organization. A company’s culture influences result from the top to bottom.
The average American will spend one-third of their life at work. The environment in which they spend that time will largely dictate the quality of an employee’s professional life. If they work for a company with a strong culture that aligns with their own beliefs and attitudes, they’ll be more likely to work hard and remain with the company for the long haul. If, on the other hand, the company’s culture does not reflect their own personal feelings, they’re much more likely to leave — or worse, remain with the company but underperform.
I am proud to introduce our culture at APPI, and for many team members, it will become one of the key reasons for working for the company. Our core company values are: be humble, seek feedback, and always solve the fundamental problem.
Encourage humility in both client and employee interactions. Humility helps us build a logical culture by encouraging self-awareness. Being open about strengths, weaknesses, and room for improvement is a ballast against politics, arrogance & excessive pride. Humility is great for business, both internally and within customer relations. It helps employees build authentic relationships with customers and one another. Humility wins business, it’s inclusive, it keeps us nimble and honest and it leads to high voluntary employee retention.
When we consistently identify conflict, we are more likely to resolve it. The first step to reaching such a resolution is feedback.
While some people believe feedback should be given anonymously, this approach is not constructive. In a truly open work environment, feedback shouldn’t be seen as an attack or a punitive measure, but as a helpful starting point to improve the company starting at an individual level.
Discreet and polite feedback, especially when given one-on-one, is constantly encouraged at APPI. Here are some phrases you will hear around the office:
- “How can I be better?”
- “How can we be better?“
- “Have you told them that, directly?“
- “Do you have the support you need?”
- “Can I give you some feedback?”
Rapid, direct feedback gets ahead of resentment. It discourages back-channeling and faceless complaints, which are unhealthy and prevent open communication. Candid feedback strengthens the employee-to-employee relationships that are critical to our work, as well as improving clients’ view of our company. This openness encourages humility, trust, courage, clarity, directness, logic, and care. It is a fundamental requirement of a healthy, growing company.
Without an environment that supports feedback, individuals can’t improve, teams become blind to shortcomings, and the organization suffers. There cannot be growth without feedback.
Always solve the fundamental problem
While excelling at your craft is difficult, knowing how and where to apply your efforts can often be even more challenging. For that reason, prioritizing the most important task is the third tenet our company swears by. Some people refer to this concept as “first principles,” while others call it “focus.” We call it “solving the fundamental problem.”
To solve the fundamental problem, you must recognize what doesn’t matter. Through this process, you will know what you can safely ignore — allowing you to allocate all your attention to the most important area. This ability to understand what is most important comes from a combination of experience, righteous judgment, forethought, ingenuity, imagination, logic, vision, and creativity.
Solving the fundamental problem means engaging frequently with customers, reviewing your services early and often and always experimenting.
Every company’s product is a playground — engineering, design, sales, manufacturing, machine learning, marketing, supply chain, logistics, and more. There are so many fun things to do, and there is so much to learn.
However, this breadth of topics provides endless areas where you can focus your expertise, making it difficult to decide where your efforts would be most productive. Therefore, we value people willing to invest their time in identifying the dilemma we have to address first.
These three values — humility, feedback, and intentional focus — will bring our company great success in the coming months and years.