Fault-tolerant while high-achieving company culture

High standards but forgiving

A culture of a company consists of a few fundamental values which the staff of a company holds dear. Fast-growing companies like startups are very conscious of this aspect of running the company. One of my favorite values I have been championing in the last few years is high standards while forgiving.

With high standards while forgiving I mean that the work ethic should be to get to the absolute best possible result in each circumstance. It is a careful balance between resources and time, but when the outcome is not great you sacrifice time and resources. But at the same time avoid being competition between people and teams.

In my experience, competitive attitudes as part of the culture typically lead to a toxic atmosphere where only competitive types feel somewhat at home. Granted a competitive culture can lead to great results and super high standards, but it doesn’t end up being a very inclusive culture. The non-inclusiveness leads to missed opportunities because these companies tend to be more inward focused than outward. The culture drives people to be more concerned about their position and standing than moving the company forward as a team. In the worst possible scenario, it leads to a super political environment – especially when there is a very authoritarian leader with insecurity issues.

The forgiving part is super important. It fosters inclusiveness towards people and the team. It makes it ok to reject work because it does not meet the high standard without putting the blame on the work. In the end, every person in the company needs to be working as a team to get to the best possible result. Sometimes this means sacrifices because of lack of resources or time. But more importantly, it breeds creative thinking about overcoming shortcomings in resources and time while aiming for that ultimate goal.

I’ve seen this at work at one company and it worked really well. It makes it easy to attract and retain talent, fosters a happy atmosphere in the company and the ultimate team spirit in bringing the very best work. I cannot champion this enough.

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