Culture is Everything!

We’ve developed the view at Frog that every single individual must share the company’s values, ambitions and passions. Experience has taught us that anything other than this is actually destructive. Nonetheless, it occurred to me today that we ask what seems like a lot of people to leave the company within a matter of months, sometimes even weeks of them joining – so we had a look at the numbers. It turns out that as many as 30% to 40% of people that join Frog are only there for a few months (and incidentally, only one person has ever left Frog willingly in 10 years – two others did leave for a month or two, but came right back, and were welcomed with open arms).

Hire better, I hear you say! We’ve found this very difficult to determine during an interview, but we are a lot better at it than we used to be! Over the last few months we have refused to take on perfectly good, well qualified people because we were sure that they wouldn’t fit into the “family”, we’ve even let some good people go for the same reason.

Culture comes from the top, of course. We have created a very open, passionate and transparent environment. There are nearly 50 of us, yet there are little to no politics, people are honest when they don’t understand. If people are nervous about something, or feel that something is a bit too big for them at the moment, they say so – there’s very little ego in the company, we’re all pretty much focussed on the bigger picture rather than typical individual drivers. We have a tremendously supportive environment for those that are “in the family” and I know that everyone feels proud to be a part of it.

People that don’t fit our culture stick out like a sore thumb and always have a detrimental effect on the whole group. We’ve found particular issues with people that have come from very large organisations. They bring the sense that authority is a function of position rather than expertise (which is fair enough in big companies, but doesn’t work at Frog). We have a very flat, agile and dynamic management structure. Short term teams are built and broken at a moment’s notice, entire departments are built and broken regularly. People that have joined us from a more typical “role based” culture find this almost impossible to deal with. Respect is earned at Frog, not assigned – only the strongest survive. Every time we’ve added someone that doesn’t fit it has stifled our creativity, demotivated teams and eaten away at the group dynamic of “everyone pulling together as a team – no rules, no real hierarchy, just a focus on getting what we want to achieve done”

Frog has been likened to a cult by our employees and friends – many of our friends and families don’t understand the passion within the company – it can seem unhealthy and obsessive! I’ve certainly never worked anywhere that enjoys this kind of dynamic before. Interestingly, many of our customers feel like they are part of this cult. Sure, the fact that the product is awesome and the service is outstanding aren’t doing us any harm at all, nor does the phenomenal growth that we’re experiencing, everyone wants to be part of a winning team – but if we were a distant, faceless company, we wouldn’t be enjoying the kind of relationships that we have with most of our customers. We’re part of something special. (I know this sounds arrogant but it is generally accepted, even by our competitors nowadays, that Frog is a wicked product)

Over the years we’ve learned that Culture is Everything. It would be silly to say that nothing else matters, but it definitely comes a distant second…

3 thoughts on “Culture is Everything!

  1. I agree with everything above (it might have something to do with me being a part of said cult though ;-) ). There’s something about the whole place, the people that work there, it’s special.

    I wonder if it would be worth looking more at interview techniques – perhaps having potential candidates (when you get it down to one or two promising ones) spend half a day with the team they’d be working with. This would give both parties an idea of what they were getting themselves into.

    It’s never going to be a perfect system, you’ll always get people who seem ideal at interview then after a while just don’t fit in/get it.

    We have a unique product, maybe we should devise a unique interview style too ;-)

  2. And it makes me feel all the more welcome for being part of that cult/family :-)

    If we kept the people who didn’t fit in, it would be all the more difficult for the people who DO fit in to realise it.

  3. Frog is unique.

    The way we operate has a major benefits to staff they all feel like they own a little piece of Frog and are full of enthusiasm, motivation and commitment not only in providing exceptional products and services to our customers but they support each other in a way I have never experienced before. If people don’t fit then unfortunately they do stick out like a sore thumb and to be honest 99% of people are aware they don’t well before we have to say anything to them. It is never easy asking people to leave the company but we won’t take the risk of “our family” becoming unbalanced and de-motivated. We have learnt that leaving people in a role that doesn’t fit has such a detrimental effect on the company as a whole, that it really isn’t worth it.

    Obviously peoples skill sets are a priority when recruiting but they have to also understand that they need to possess the Frog Factor!

    We have an outstanding team and without them we wouldn’t be where we are now.

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