Our company’s culture is something I have invested a lot of time and thought in because our culture is our everything. But how do we keep it intact as we grow? What happens as we add additional locations, more people? At Fairlawn we work really hard, but we also have fun, a lot of it. It’s this light, humor-filled, yet professional work hard-play hard atmosphere that makes us unique in our market. From a business perspective it also attracts and retains people, provided they are into having fun while working really hard. So yes, this is something I think about – how do you ensure you’re finding the right people in the first place, who value this type of culture and how do you keep it intact as you grow? And is this even possible?
Fast forward to a serendipitous interview we had the other day with an extremely bright and professional candidate for a role leading our HR Department, which didn’t yet exist. This interview was exciting for so many reasons. Selfishly I was excited to be able to move some critical things off of my plate to someone’s who could do them way better than me, but the real and broader excitement was around being in a position to need to have someone in this role. Though Fairlawn is just under 3 years old, we are approaching the 50 employee mark, which is not only a major milestone but also one that comes with more and different responsibilities as an employer. So while I was looking for someone to lead this important transition, I was also looking for someone to help me keep our culture intact as we grow.
Toward the end of the interview something caught my eye – it was an f bomb. While it’s not typical to have any sort of f bomb in an interview, I remembered earlier in the day when our Project Manager was in this room and used it to weigh down one side of some building plans. Here I was in a situation I wouldn't have envisioned 3 years ago: approaching 50 employees, interviewing someone for an HR role, in our new office because we had outgrown our old one, with an f bomb at the table with us. I obviously stopped the interview to jokingly apologize for the f bomb, which our future HR Manager found quite funny; it was then that I knew that no matter how much we grow we will be able to keep the essence that is us. Sometimes when it comes to culture it’s all the little things that mean the most, and this f bomb was no exception. --GBH