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How to Keep a Culture you Love

Dawn Lively • Sep 11, 2017

As Director of Culture & Talent at DeveloperTown, I have a great gig at an awesome place to work that, in my opinion, had a great culture before I even joined. Seriously, who doesn't want to work in a #tinyhouse, wear flip flops to work most of the time, play ping pong at will, and so on?!? But the expectation is for us to maintain our awesome culture in the face of constant evolution and growth.

See, DT iterates. Constantly. We champion how we iterate within client projects, but we're doing it for ourselves as well. And we're growing, the pace at which can be surprising to many. My second day on the job, just over a year ago, we were having a cookout. The guy in line behind me asked who I was and what I would be doing. When I told him, the response was, "Holy sh!t! We're big enough for HR?!?". He'd been here at DT for four years at that point, and I thought it was both hilarious and poignant.

Okay, DeveloperTown's big enough for HR. I was here...now what? There's a few things for which I'm deliberate, watchful, and conscious of at all times:


OUR VALUES

Again, I was fortunate when I started, as the Management Team had already started the work of defining our Core Values. My first few months involved quite a bit of iteration on our core values, all Townies involved, to make it ring true to Us. We got them there, Marketing made them pretty, and now we get to live them and iterate on what they truly mean to us.


OUR PEOPLE

No two individuals here are the same - Thank Goodness! We have some who have been here quite a while, some who have been here a year or two, and some who are brand new. We branch across four generations - five if you count our interns for the summer. The most common thread is that we are Learners. Add to that, we take the time to hire the right "fit" people from the get go, who realize quickly how serious we are about working independently and iterating. Last, at the heart of our people is our Leadership - - If our leaders didn't help form, match, and drive our culture, we would be in serious trouble. It starts at the top, but learning and evolving is embraced throughout DT. It helps when the HR person matches the culture, too. A lot.


THE MOST COMMON THREAD IS THAT WE ARE LEARNERS.


OUR PACE

Taking our people, taking our values, and taking what our leaders in particular believe and live themselves, makes it easy to create a great culture. So as far as keeping it, I've had the pleasure this last year of learning about our values, our people, and our pace. As we continue to grow and evolve, the amount of conscious, articulated effort to be aware of who we are and what we stand for becomes more important than ever. We have been evolving in quite a few ways - - documenting our values, progressing our employee engagement survey, starting to put structure into career evolution with communication and feedback - - but at a pace that everyone can be involved, everyone can embrace, and everyone can agree is needed and helpful.

Knowing what makes us awesome, seeing how we need to grow, and creating structure that matches our people and values, at the pace we can embrace: That is what I get to do in my role here. The work is never done, and the work is so much fun. And I can't think of anything I would rather be doing more!