In our last few posts, we discussed what culture is, what it isn’t, and why it is so important. As many CEO’s are now woke to the importance of culture and how it can be a competitive advantage, a new role - VP of Culture - is becoming commonplace at high-growth companies.
We reached out to CK Lin, Head of Culture, at fast-growing, Los Angeles-based VideoAmp to get his insights on the role of culture in general and, more specifically, his role in building and managing it.
At a high level, what is your mandate as Head of Culture?
My mandate is to create the most optimal environment to help our people succeed at VideoAmp.
What does the day to day of your job look like?
There is no typical day to day activity. Much of what I do is observe what is happening and what is missing. And advise our CEO/leadership to put in what is missing to make the difference for our people.
Do you have tips or frameworks for early-stage founders in terms of how to think about, define and develop their desired culture?
Start with the end in mind. What does success look like to you?
What values and principles will support that success?
What resources (e.g. budget, time, attention) are you willing to allocate to reinforce those values?
At this stage of the business, what kind of people will you love working next to?
What is negotiable? What is not negotiable?
As is the nature of successful startups, VideoAmp has grown very quickly these past few years. How have you helped ensure the culture has evolved alongside the company?
Ask the hard questions and regularly examine (along with the leadership and the rest of the company) the gap between our ideals/values/principles and what's actually happening in the trenches.
How do you measure culture? In turn, how do you measure success in your role?
Culture supports people supports the company success. If the culture is doing well, the primary effect is the overall morale/vibe of the company. Is there laughter on the floor? Are people enjoying themselves during work? What is the job satisfaction number? The secondary effect is reflected in our productivity. How is our revenue number? Are we hitting our milestones on time?
What advice do you have for companies that are not in a position to hire someone dedicated to culture. How can they best monitor and cultivate their culture?
Continue to hire people who have high levels of awareness and those that give a damn and have the courage to tell the truth. When your company is full of people who are aware, who are caring, and are courageous, you'll be able to monitor as well as cultivate the culture through everyday conversations that address the real challenges.
VideoAmp recently won a “Best Places to Work” award. Kudos. How much of that recognition do you believe has its roots in having a strong culture?
We were honored that Inc Magazine recognized us as one of the Best Places to Work. But, recognitions aside, we have always been clear that behind our numbers, code base, products, and customer support, are our people. And we believe the most important part of running a business is putting our people first and ruthlessly ensuring there is an environment (that is "culture") conducive for high performance, engagement and fulfillment. If our people are happy and proud to work for the company, the rest will fall into place. We couldn’t have done this without the support of all of our employees who contribute daily to make VideoAmp the place it is today.