Is Good Company Culture Really About Ping Pong and Beer?

I often hear about how great the “culture” of an organization is. You know, where people are bragging that they get to wear jeans, use the in-office gym, drink beer, and play ping pong.

What is culture anyway?

This is what I get when I Google “culture”: The complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.

Culture is more than hacky sack, lattes and smoothies. Culture is more than just the superficial trappings of a cool place to work.

I mean, ReadyTalk has an informal culture, food and fun activities. We have beer. We have ping pong. We have casual dress and an in-office gym. But we have more than that — we care about each other and our customers, accept and revel in new ideas, trust people to make good decisions, and show results, too.

It’s about caring

Caring about others is important here. We have brown bag sessions on empathy and how to help customers. We do this naturally — it’s who our leaders are and who we’ve hired. I mean, I’m pretty results driven and wondered if this kind of caring and compassionate environment could deliver results. But we can and we do. In fact, I think the caring enables us to deliver better results, and with more thought. We band together and help each other out. And we’re respectful of everyone and consider all sides of the issue. We really don’t have any in-fighting among departments either. We trust each other.

what is company culture

Culture is about innovation, at least to us

New ideas and innovation are important to us. We like to deliver good products that really solve a need, letting people be productive. As the Chief Strategy Officer, I get to see cool ideas come to fruition like our video meeting and collaboration tool — FoxDen. It’s really awesome and the on-site meeting box is so easy to set up. We were able to develop this in about a year and already the team has ideas on how to expand and improve. That’s the culture here, too — creative. I like that.

Culture is trusting people to make the decisions you hire them to make

Part of what helps ideas come to light is decision making. We haven’t always been so good at this, but we’re turning a corner. Like most companies, ReadyTalk was fairly hierarchical. Fortunately, we have kind leadership and caring to make the culture better. But it meant everyone was waiting around until a decision was made – decisions they were perfectly capable of making. Things were taking longer than they should. Now, we’re pioneering Culture 2.0 at ReadyTalk. What would happen if as a result of knowing that you are cared about that now you were trusted to make sound decisions? Would engagement and job satisfaction increase? Ultimately, would the company perform better? Heck yeah; we think so. We’re empowering our team members to make the decisions, and our team members have a way to get the right advice about the decisions. We’re expecting good results — faster decisions, too.

I recently read an article about a leading predictor about the health of technology companies in Silicon Valley. The leading indicator was ping pong table sales! The article stated that there was concern about how Silicon Valley companies were doing because the number of ping pong tables being sold were decreasing quarter over quarter. I think culture is more than beer and ping pong. It’s the belief in teams, the expectations of what the team can deliver and the ability to trust and enable teams. It’s knowing and allowing team members to be experts – what they were hired to do. It’s also the caring compassion and innovation. That’s ReadyTalk!

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David Chao

david.chao@readytalk.com

David Chao is an experienced strategic thinker and has been a technology thought leader for the past 20 years. With a diverse background from motion pictures to the Internet, he brings a unique perspective to the technology market with his experience in financial services, movies, manufacturing and technology. His skills are focused on setting clear, sustainable strategic differentiators and then manically executing. David enjoys spending time with his family and being outdoors fly-fishing and playing golf.

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