What I've done in my first 90 Days as the Chief People, Purpose, and Culture Officer at Parcl
At Parcl, we are solving fascinating problems in Web3.0 and Data. As a team, we feel immensely lucky to be shaping an industry. However, we don't just value culture; we put culture at the center of every decision because we know if we don't have a team that trusts each other, believes in our mission, and has a blast while going to the moon, well, it's not really worth all the effort we make every day.
While culture is in my title, it's actually the sum total of everyone on the team. It's complex because of the multivariate dynamic: it's not just one input that yields value.
Trevor, CEO: At its core, culture is what we are. We noticed this very early in our journey and prioritized building a culture focused on embracing grit, creativity, and positive communication to solve extremely interesting technology challenges. We are focused on scaling this culture as we grow to intend to unlock personal and collective potential beyond what we thought was possible to change the world.
During my first 90 days, it felt urgent to hire a recruiter or start implementing new benefits. But instead, Trevor (CEO) and I made a thoughtful effort to start with our values first to have a foundation for our people and purpose strategy as an organization. But, when it comes to culture, where do you start?
Inspired by Simon Sinek's Golden Circle, we focused on where the ideas of purpose, culture, and mission come together but arise from the entire team. We hypothesized that if all three were to resonate and be held by our team, then we could curate our culture organically from the start, not retroactively.
Here’s how I approached culture:
Mission: What you’re achieving as a team (organization)
Values: What you believe in
Purpose: Why you believe and how you find impact in the mission (link back to the story/brand)
Behavior: How we measure what is happening vs. the ideal (culture)
Culture: How people feel at work (when achieving the mission and embodying the values)
David Josephs, Head of Blockchain: Our values make it easy to hire the right people. They act as a framework for attracting folks who share our values while also deterring candidates who have different priorities.
How we captured the team’s values:
What I didn't want to do: Create something in a back room somewhere and present it to the Parcl team. "Hey, look at what I think your culture is!"
I believe in observing, asking human-centric questions, and mapping out the themes and insights to develop a product that aligns with the population's needs; similar to products, values are no different.
I asked the following questions to arrive at Parcl's values from our first eight teammates, who built the product and focused on our mission from the very start:
- What do you want to be known for at Parcl?
- What do you want Parcl to be known for in the industry?
- When you hear Parcl, what is the one word you would want to be associated with it?
- What do you want Parcl's legacy to be in 10, 20, or 100 years?
- What words come to mind when you think of Parcl today?
- What don't you like about places you've worked? A manager you've had?
- What did you love about your favorite manager? How did they communicate?
- What would we fire someone for?
- Why did you join Parcl?
Jason, Chief Data Officer: I love all of our values as they set the foundation for who we are as a company, but one that resonates particularly strongly with me is "We are voyagers" - doing what's never been done before can be scary. Declaring upfront that the entire team is on a journey of pushing the boundaries of what's possible on several dimensions sets the tone that we recognize stepping into the unknown can cause an amount of uncertainty, but we have a team of voyagers who are in this together and are here for one another - the other values augment this in a compounding way that drives Parcl forward each day.
These questions led me into a world of strong themes that nearly mapped out the values themselves. I grouped and coupled similar words into themes and then applied some creativity to get closer to the values.
I presented these at the end of my first “sprint” to get feedback. We evolved the verbiage as a collective team, and we landed with the following:
Be Gritty: Grit is our intense focus, driving persistence in our craft– we don't let setbacks define us.
Unleash Courage: Sometimes, we'll need to rumble, but we know our greatest asset is our ability to tackle each problem with the confidence that we were designed to solve it together.
We're Voyagers: Curiosity is in our DNA; outlandish ideas energize us. While we don't always know what's ahead of us, we are agile and open to the unknown.
Embrace Gratitude: We lead with empathy. Our energy and time are our greatest currency; let's enjoy the ride.
Here is a sample of one of our values. A collaboration between our Chief Marketing Officer, Will Leatherman, and myself:
Next, we embedded the values into ways we could measure them behaviorally:
1) Hiring: developed questions aligned to each value in a behaviorally measurable way
Example: In my first 60 days, we implemented Greenhouse and aligned every behavioral interview question to a value across all roles. This enabled us to ensure we’re reducing bias and aligning to measurable behavioral questions that are rooted in our values, not individually sourced questions.
Will Leatherman, Chief Marketing Officer: Our values are the foundation of our team. They guide us to find like-minded individuals who are along for the ride as we work towards our mission. While independently motivating, some of our values equal a greater whole which is the Parcl team. Setting these early has given us the framework needed to source key hires, which is ever more crucial as a startup.
2) Critical business investments
Example: As we wrap up my first 90 days, we curated our benefits selection to embody our values, and we doubled down on investment in mental and physical wellbeing beyond just healthcare coverage. Because we all need support to unleash courage every day and achieve our mission.
3) Talent practices (performance, leadership development, and while we are building it, we aren’t there yet).
Example: As I go into my second quarter here at Parcl, we are now entering a phase where we are building out our talent practices. Something rarely a start-up of our size invests in this early. We are investing in leadership development, team dynamics, coaching, and communication. Moreover, we are researching how we can embed our values into team-based performance, feedback, and other talent practices. We will be updating our community on these updates as we progress and learn! Most of all, we want these to represent our values and our spirit of transparency, trust, and reduced bureaucracy.
We're just getting started on building our culture, we look forward to bringing you along for the ride!
David Neal, Talent Acquisition Lead: Since coming on board, we have really taken a priority on cementing a seamless and efficient hiring structure which we TRULY believe will increase the overall candidate experience and show we really do value hiring, people, and culture here at Parcl.