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8 Culture Lessons for HR and Managers from HubSpot’s #INBOUND13

/ 8.26.13

Marketing and HR are merging. It makes sense. Both are about showing love for and engaging people. HR is in the business of culture, and marketing is in the business of brand. Culture. Brand. Are these different things? For many successful companies, no.


“Your brand is your culture, and your culture is your brand…An appropriate and well-aligned culture can provide a brand with a sustainable competitive advantage. It’s not so much about how customers value what they receive, but how it’s being delivered. Brand-driven organizational culture is about having the motivation and inspiration to be different.”


IDRIS MOOTEE, 60 Minute Brand Strategist

Work life integration and balance at HubSpot Inbound13This past week I saw culture and brand merge when I attended HubSpot’s annual marketing conference, INBOUND. In addition to being a leading technology provider in the marketing space, HubSpot is a leading provider in culture. Participating in our Best Places to Work in Boston, the company has placed first or second in its size category for the past four years. HubSpot released its Culture Code to the public in a beta slide deck earlier this year.



Last week at INBOUND, I heard and saw first-hand a few of the lessons that made the company a Best Places to Work. Attending sessions presented by CTO Dharmesh Shah and CMO Mike Volpe, here are a few lessons I learned about HubSpot’s culture:


1. Be as proud of the people you build, as you are of the company you build.

What a great statement. Some companies don’t build people at all. It’s a shame. Why wouldn’t you want to be proud of the people you have working for you? Developing your people’s skills provides you with not only a more talented workforce, but also a more dedicated workforce. When you show people you care, they will care about you and the goals you’re trying to achieve.


2. Don’t penalize the many for the mistakes of the few.

“Hey, Manager Mike, why do we have this rule in our employee handbook?”
“Well, Johnny, once upon a time, this ex-employee…”

HubSpot has one employee policy: Use good judgment. Vacation, in-office hours, social media? Use good judgment. What I like best about this policy is the resounding message of “we trust you.” If one employee fails to use good judgment, it doesn’t mean you should stop trusting all other employees. Trust is powerful. Trust earns honesty. Trust gains respect.


3. Don’t just hire to delegate. Hire to elevate.

Pretty simple. Look for talent that is going to do more than just take over responsibilities. Look for talent that brings something new to the table. Hire people who are better than you at something, so you can learn from them.


4. Hire quirky people.

Hey, Dharmesh, have you been hacking into Quantum Workplace’s annual letters? We don’t call ourselves Qwirks for nothing; being quirky is one of our core values. In Dharmesh’s talk on crafting culture, he explained if you hire average people, you get average results and an average company.


Be Quirky


5. Focus on outcomes. Manage by metrics.

Does anyone actually like micromanaging or cracking the whip on employees? I know I don’t. Do any employees like that sort of management strategy? Of course not! HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe manages by metrics. He stressed the importance of clearly explaining outcomes and results and why those outcomes are needed. When employees understand the metrics for which they are accountable and have the ability to see progress toward those metrics in real time, you can “let the metrics crack the whip.”


6. Set the tone that feedback is good.

Giving feedback can be difficult. As a manager, it’s up to you to set the tone with your employees that feedback is a good thing. Make sure they know that you give feedback because you love them, because you want them to be awesome, and because you know that they are really good and that’s why they can take and address your feedback.


7. Promotion doesn’t have to be financial.

Especially with Millennials, employees want plan and structure to their careers. They want to grow and learn and be recognized for doing so. Providing a checklist of things to learn and do can provide the structure and sense of accomplishment employees are looking for when it comes to elevating in their careers. In addition, providing more frequent reviews and more opportunities for frequent, small pay increases can be more appealing than larger increases paced out over a longer period of time.


8. Recognize and motivate frequently.

Within the marketing team at HubSpot, employees are recognized weekly with the Golden Unicorn Award. In addition, HubSpot has a monthly champions dinner, where each company group sends one person to dine with the HubSpot management team. Mike admitted that sometimes recognition can be easy to forget. He recommends giving yourself speed bumps to remind you to celebrate by putting it on your calendar.

HubSpot has a lot more to say on culture, so be sure to flip through the Culture Code deck above. I leave you with one more thought from Dharmesh,


“Compromising on culture is mortgaging the future.”


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