LinkedIn's Head of HR Shares Why Company Culture Should Be Your Top Priority

November 14, 2016

When Pat Wadors, Head of HR at LinkedIn, thinks about company culture, she doesn’t consider it a nice to have – it’s absolutely critical for every company.

Why? Because when it comes to business success, “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” says Pat. According to her, you might have a great strategy, but if you don’t have the energy, freedom, respect, and appreciation that healthy culture provides, your employees won’t get you over the finish line.

“If you have a high performing, engaged culture, they have higher discretionary effort, they have higher innovation, they wake up problem solving, they collaborate, and they ask people more questions to get diversity of thought,” she says. And, it’s that type of behavior that will lead a company to success.

The question then becomes, how do you build that company culture and scale it as your organization grows? In this weeks Talent on Tap epsidode, Pat discussed this exact challenge with LinkedIn’s Head of Talent, Brendan Browne:

According to Pat, building company culture all starts with an assessment - you have to step back and find out how people at your company feel and what they believe. Ask them: why are you here? Why do you stay? Look at your engagement scores, the conversion rate from recruiting, and what the causes are behind candidates leaving. “Bring that together and it ends up being your magic sauce,” says Pat.

And “You’ll also find out some not so pretty things,” she says. “You’ll find out people are there for different reasons - some for money, some for purpose, and some for people. And when you have people following people, they will leave if that person leaves. If they are there for the culture and vision, you will keep getting healthier,” she says.

By gathering this information, you can find out where the breaks are and fix them. At larger companies, it can take up to two years for change to happen – you have to keep taking the pulse and watch your progress.

And for leadership, “you have to look in the mirror and figure our how you make decisions today,” says Pat. “How do you show up? Are you lackadaisical? You have to do a self audit and then say is this the kind of behavior you want from others? If you can’t role model what you seek, it won’t be true for your company culture over time."

“From start up to scale up, understanding the value of culture is a life cycle,” says Pat. “VCs and other founders are discovering the impact of culture – it’s a competitive differentiator because the people you bring in tend to stay and be engaged. If you don’t harness that today, its an opportunity cost.”

Talent on Tap is a weekly series where Pat Wadors and Brendan Browne break down some of the hottest topics, biggest challenges, and most enticing opportunities in the world of talent. Talent on Tap will also give you an opportunity to hear from other organizational leaders, subject matter experts, and thought leaders in the space. Stay tuned each week for the latest.

*Image by Jo Chou