On Building Team Culture : This Entrepreneur Doesn’t Let The Team Work on Fridays and Weekends

A lot of companies thing culture is about nice perks but it’s really about your Mission Statement and the Teams excitement. I think it’s impossible to have great company culture if you have a Mission that doesn’t really matter.

As an entrepreneur, it’s really easy to lose focus on softer aspects of the business. One of the core areas which entrepreneurs often ignore is building the team culture and setting some policies right.

Ryan Carson, Treehouse Founder
Ryan Carson, Treehouse Founder

Meet Ryan Carson, Founder of TreeHouse. He has successfully built and sold two startups and is now working on Treehouse.

Ryan is a firm believer in building a great team culture – he ensures that Treehouse office is closed on Friday and nobody sends out any email during the weekend (i.e. strictly 4-days week culture).

And did we tell you that Ryan is a firm believer in *NoManager* Policy? The company fired all managers!

Read our interview with Ryan Carson.

NextBigWhat: How do you define ‘team culture’? What advice do you have for early-mid stage entrepreneurs who are way too busy fighting out the daily chaos and not thinking about building a culture.

Team Culture is measured by one thing: Is your team passionate about your Mission?

At Treehouse, we truly believe we’re going to change the World. It’s like a cult 🙂 A lot of companies think culture is about nice perks but it’s really about your Mission Statement and the Team’s excitement. I think it’s impossible to have great company culture if you have a Mission that doesn’t really matter. Deep down, it’s got to matter. It’s got to make the World a better place or you’ll never have a lasting company culture.

NextBigWhat: 4 Days Work Week @TreeHouse. How has TreeHouse managed to build a 4 days week culture?

We started working a 4-day week back in 2006 and we never stopped.

NextBigWhat: How much of this is reinforced vs. optional?

It’s set in stone. The office is closed on Friday and we actively discourage people from emailing anyone on Fridays. I don’t work Fridays because I want to spend the time with my wife and kids.

NextBigWhat: Given the competition in this space, don’t you get ‘tensed’ about losing a day (+1) of productivity?

Yes, sometimes I wish we worked a 5-day week so we could get more done. However, I think we would get more done in the immediate short term but long term we’d have more burn out and turnover. So I think the 4-day week is a great long-term investment in our Team and keeping them happy and productive. In the end, we offer our whole team 50% more time with their family and loved ones. That’s insane. We’re making a real difference in our Team’s lives by doing that.

NextBigWhat: How do you set weekly goals for the teams, ensuring that the goals are ambitious enough for a week’s task?

We don’t have managers so every day, each employee decides what’s important for them to do. My Co-Founder and I set company-wide priorities and goals that map to our vision but it’s up to the Team how to accomplish these. I’ve been writing a series of articles on how our NoManager company works.

NextBigWhat: Quite intrigued by ‘No Manager’ policy. What career growth path do you show to employees?

We don’t have traditional career paths because there’s no managerial ladder to climb. The only way to advance at the company is to be really good at your job and make a real difference.

NextBigWhat: How have you managed the geographically wide team?

We use an internal reddit-clone for company-wide messaging. For chat we use HipChat which has great desktop and mobile apps. We actively discourage using email because it creates information silos. When you run a NoManager company, you need to keep all information public so everyone can make informed decisions.

NextBigWhat: How do you keep them informed about the company details, keep them in the loop, replicate similar culture across different geographies?

We use an internal tool called Flow. Everyday each employee enters the status of the Projects they’re working on. This light-touch project tool allows everyone to quickly get up to speed on what’s happening with a Project without having to go through a Manager.

NextBigWhat: How do you hire? How do you spot a ‘potentially misfit’ employee way early in the cycle?

Almost all of our hires are referrals from the current team. We give everyone a 1-month trial period where they can leave or we can let them go if it’s obvious they’re not the right fit forTreehouse.

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