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Better Know a B: Galileo Learning Maintains Positive Culture

This guest post comes from Glen Tripp, founder and CEO of B Corp Galileo Learning.

One of the best parts about being a B Corp is being part of a community dedicated to creating great places to work. Galileo Learning has had the good fortune to be named to several “Best Places to Work” lists, which sometimes leads to press interviews. During those conversations, the reporter inevitably turns to a question like this: “So, what’s your secret? What kind of crazy perks do you provide for your employees?”

As a B Corp, you already know the answer is not about free sushi and foosball tables. Being a great place to work goes deeper than that. The best places to work have total commitment to a meaningful mission, and values that are brought to life in an authentic way each day.

At Galileo, our desire to create an uplifting culture is complicated by the fact that 95 percent of our 1,500 employees are seasonal, joining us for just a few months each year to run innovation summer camps for kids. That makes it all the more important that we invest in making our mission and values real. These three steps have worked for us:

Clearly define our mission and values and establish their primacy. Each year, we revisit our mission and values and get clear on what behaviors reflect those values. As we do this, we reiterate that we will not sacrifice these to achieve short-term business results. As a B Corp, we have safeguarded this by building this commitment right into our bylaws. It’s crucial that all those with power, be they company leaders, investors, or frontline employees, are aligned on the primacy of mission and values, or the rest will fall apart.

Create an intense hiring process that screens for both technical competency AND mission and values alignment. For example, we ask candidates to complete a group challenge like creating a skit that requires collaboration and playfulness. And we ask history-based questions that get at what worked and didn’t work from a cultural perspective at their last workplace. We are willing to say no to all finalists and continue the search if they are not the right fit. Company culture gets either stronger or weaker with every hire.

Create systems and rituals that reinforce mission and values at every step. Once someone is hired at Galileo, our intention is that that everything they experience be consistence with our beliefs. Weekly meetings with your manager to exchange feedback and discuss goals, group line dancing when we hit milestones, dress-up days, and an elaborate system of buttons that we pin on each other to recognize performance are examples of systems that shape our workplace. Ultimately, culture is a systems challenge. Recognition, pay, goal setting, professional development, and office design must all be aligned to support connection to mission and values. This includes parting ways with those that turn out to be the wrong fit.

At the end of the day, organizations with strong cultures are able to say yes to the following questions:

- Are you willing to invest time and money in rituals that clarify and connect people to your mission and values?
- Are you willing to say “no” to a technically strong candidate that does not make your culture stronger?
- Are you willing to part ways with an employee who is weakening your culture, even if it creates short-term pain?
- Are you willing to slow your growth to strengthen your culture?

If you are able to answer yes to these questions, then you are on your way. If you’re unclear, then dealing with these foundational questions is a good first step. Fortunately, B Corps by definition have a head start in this goal.

Author: Glen Tripp is the Founder and CEO of Galileo Learning. Galileo’s summer programs, which seek to develop innovators who envision and create a better world, serve more than 20,000 kids in 45 locations across California. Galileo has been a B Corp since 2012. Learn more about Galileo Learning on their B Corp profile page.


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