As I have mentioned before, I work for an awesome company with an awesome bunch of people. With all this awesomeness it may seem at times that it’s just that: awesome. And it is. But like every company out there, we sometimes have our challenges. One that has surfaced lately is the balance between the system (the small set of rules that is supposed to keep us in check and healthy as a company) and our culture (which has suffered a bit considering our massive growth over the years).

The challenge

Like I mentioned, we have a small set out rules. One of these specifically is aimed at keeping us financially healthy as a company: the amount of turnover each consultant needs on a monthly basis. Simply put each consultant needs to generate 4 times their gross salary each month in turnover. As long as you comply to that simple rule, there’s technically nobody going to bother you how you invest your time.

Things are more complicated than that though. We don’t really care about individual numbers, for instance, unless there’s a significant, long-term issue. The accumulated numbers of a team are more important and that’s what counts. This means team members can compensate each other, which is great because people get sick, go on holidays, etc.

But the system also has one major flaw: it allows people to work just, say, four days a month, get their required turnover, and do nothing for the rest of the month. Add in the unlimited vacation days we have and you may see where this is going…

The solution

Okay, so we have to fix the system, because obviously somebody could really easily abuse this. Right?

No.

Fixing the system will only remove this issue right now and likely introduce another, it would take away freedom and it would likely introduce a whole bunch of rules making things more complicated. The system is actually fine, because it relies on trust, responsibility, entrepreneurship, teamwork, and honesty. But those things aren’t things that are secured in the system, they are secured in our culture.

We need to fix our culture.

We, as a team, have allowed this to get this far, into a situation where things seem out of balance. So we, as a team, need to have that conversation on how we use the system because our culture is the sum of the culture of each of the team’s members.

While that conversation may be hard, as it could very well involve having a tough conversation, it will fix the problem. But more importantly: it means we retain the immense amount of freedom we have, which allowed us to grow at the pace we have, which we appreciate as a team and which helps us whenever we need it.

Culture should beat the system, and if you focus on your culture and keep fixing it when things go the wrong way, it will.