The way you attract, retain, develop your talent, and keep them happy may have a larger role in your company’s success than you suspect. Numerous studies show that beyond employee engagement, fancy marketing, and short-term perks, the employee experience as a whole is critical to a startup’s success at any stage, in particular during periods of fast growth, and is a driving force behind customer experience.
Having a clear idea of what gets the right (not just the best) talent to work for you, to stay around long enough to achieve real impact for your bottom line, and develop as people and professionals is central to sustained growth and profitability.
Company Culture Building Insights by a Unicorn CEO
David Gentile, CEO and Founder of GPB Capital, has focused from the start on delivering a superior employee experience. He has built his company from a startup into an alternative asset management firm managing more than $1.5 billion in assets, with 160 portfolio organizations under its wing.
Gentile explains, “Companies should strive to build ladders. These are the very same ladders that we can all climb together, as we progress up the road to our personal success and the success of the company. These ladders are built by laying the foundation of company culture.”
Companies that invest in employee culture and engagement have been shown to bring in an additional 147% per share. Furthermore, case studies show that when they engage both customers and employees, organizations can experience up to a 240% jump in performance-related business outcomes.
It can be challenging to keep up with evolving markets, products, and industries while maintaining the culture and growth of a company into the future. You cannot sacrifice culture; otherwise, the building blocks of the company itself begin to crumble.
Few have mastered this delicate dance better than Gentile.
We recently had the chance to interview him about the “special sauce” of his company’s success and what a startup needs to do to keep its employees engaged and happy.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career? What did it teach you about yourself and your team, as it relates to designing company culture?
First and foremost, I can never compromise on operating at the highest ethical standard on behalf of my investors. When I’ve encountered people in business and throughout my career that do not hold this same standard, it’s sometimes quite challenging. It is so essential to hire people who are intelligent, but above intelligence, they must be ethical. Those who possess the same values as you do put more effort into caring for others than they do for themselves. While it might prove difficult, it is important to remove people from the organization that don’t share your ethical standards. Challenges often have positive outcomes; they enable you to see the true character of a person in those times of adversity.
Tell us about the biggest challenge you overcame in your personal life that informs how you see the world and how you serve others?
The biggest challenge in my personal life was the loss of my uncle, who was more of a big brother to me. He died in a tragic accident and it was completely devastating to me. With this loss, I learned many lessons. This helped me realize two things in particular:
Life is fragile, and what we take for granted can change quickly, so appreciate the simple things in life like a friendly hug or smile.
Secondly, this loss taught me that life moves on, and it is important to be aware of your emotions, and also to keep your emotions positive. Always be aware that you and only you can create happiness in yourself, and others. You cannot be dependent upon others for your happiness.
What is your life mission? How does GPB Capital’s mission align with your personal mission? Be specific.
When I was just beginning my career, someone told me that their life’s purpose was to make the world a better place. I remember that moment quite well. The idea of dedicating your life to uplifting those around you blew me away. That’s how I became inspired to elevate my role and responsibility above just that of a CPA for clients. I made it my mission to be a trusted and reliable advisor to all of my clients. I’ve spent my career serving my clients and now at GPB Capital, I serve our operating partners, our investors, and all our employees. Being of service is the most important component of the culture in any business, regardless of industry. You cannot succeed here unless you understand the necessity of serving your partners, investors, and peers before yourself.
What are your best practices for attracting top talent and keeping it around?
One concept of our culture, which is vital for any company’s culture, is to have a workspace that makes people feel comfortable and inspired. If I expect my employees to put tremendous care into their work, I want them to be able to do it in a space that they enjoy physically being in. At GPB, we work and play as a family, and I’ve always done everything I could to ensure the office feels like home.
What’s GPB Capital’s “special sauce?”
For us, this is the principle that relationships in business transcend the transactional. People have to feel comfortable being who they really are in word and in deed, at every level of the organization. Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.