Like many startups at this stage of growth, :Different didn’t have anyone in-house with the specialist skillset they needed to take action. A referral was made to the founders of :Different, letting them know that the The Lab17’s Culture and Leadership team were available to help. Mina, reflected:
I think the thing that we came to realize is that this is a discipline. People and culture is a discipline of its own. In the same way that engineering is a discipline of its own, or product management, or sales. And we were like ‘we don't have anybody at the company who understands this discipline or comes from this background’. It would be like, ‘Hey, can we build this engineering product, and not have an engineer to do it?’ And I think that was a really big thing for us. We were like, ‘we don't have the skill set here to be able to do it - we need to bring somebody in who understands it and can work with us.’
We grew really quickly as a company, and one of the things that we hadn’t figured out was how to create a culture around performance that felt fair and objective.
There are so many things when you're growing as a start-up, you're growing so fast, everybody's just doing the best they can. But, ‘how do I know I'm doing well when everyone is just working hard’, was the thing that we really struggled with.
We didn't want to make employees feel like we didn’t value their hard work, but, at the same time, we also needed to have an objective way of evaluating the quality of work, not just the quantity.
None of us had really ever put a performance structure in place originally, and it's really tough as an employee, because when you're working very hard, you want to feel like your work is valued, but you also need to know how you're doing. As a business, that's our responsibility - we just didn't have a fair or objective way to be able to say that consistently to people across the business”.