My wife cooks spaghetti a lot and she really likes making the sauce from scratch. She has the general guidelines she sticks to, but from there she wings it. She's always tasting it and adding a handful of different ingredients to move it towards the taste she likes. Sometimes salt, sometimes pepper, sometimes garlic, you name it. Overall it's Italian tasting but there are 1,000 variations from there.
What does this have to do with Company Culture? Everything in my opinion. Company Culture can really be thought of like a taste. Or to be more specific the taste of a sauce. Think about it. The Company Culture is going to likely start with one or two people, the owners. I would compare the owners to the cooks. They will be the ones adding the ingredients, and the ingredients are the people.
Every single person in a company is a part of it's culture (the taste). The more I've studied culture the more I realize it's always changing. You can hold your company to a certain type of culture, but the reality is it changes with every hire. Maybe it only changes slightly or maybe a certain person enhances it, but it's a evolving thing. Oh don't forget, the wrong ingredient and you can ruin your sauce! Be careful.
Here's how you can make some bomb-ass company sauce:
1. You need to pick your type of sauce up front and stick to ingredients that work well with that type. Think of this like choosing: Italian, Mexican, Chinese, etc.
Translation: Figure out what type of culture you want, and stick to hiring only people with certain traits. Think of things like : honest, hard working, ambitious, family oriented. This is your type of person, and every hire needs to have these characteristics.
2. Now that you know the ingredients you're working with, start adding. Start with a lot of the base ingredients.
Translation: Many of your hires are going to be that "type" so start adding a lot of them. You're going to have a very solid base in no time.
3. Throw some spices in on top of your base, and check for taste.
Translation: Throw in some occasional "interesting" or "different" type hires, as long as they fit your type of sauce. These are the people that will enhance your culture, even though they are just one person.
4. When you taste, think of what you'd like more of. What spice needs to come out more in the sauce. Add more of that!
Translation: When you find those special people that enhance your company culture, hire more of them. Have that person help you on the next hire. Explain that you're looking for more people like them because you love what they have done for your company.
5. Go slow when adding spices, you can ruin the sauce. You can always add more later.
Translation: If you are ever hiring big personalities, go slow. See how they affect culture over time. Make sure everything jives well before adding more. Get too many big personalities in a company and you could have conflict. You can always hire more down the road. For the most part, stick to your base type hire.
You're Done! Sauce is complete. Although company sauce is ongoing, and eventually you will be training chef's not adding ingredients, so be sure to communicate your values and tastes well into the people you manage. Also, if you are running a company or own it, it's good to be the final sign-off on all ingredients (people.)
I hope this analogy helped you and you too can make some BOMB-ASS company sauce.