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How to Build a High-Performance Culture w/Brett Putter - Ep#98

By Anthony Taylor - April 21, 2021

Brett Putter is the CEO of CultureGene, a culture development platform that helps companies transition effectively to remote work. As a passionate student of culture and an expert on culture, Brett spends his days with leaders defining, embedding and managing culture.

He's also the author of two books: Culture Decks Decoded, and Own Your Culture: How to Define, Embed and Manage your Company Culture.

On this episode of the Strategy & Leadership Podcast, Brett joins us to discuss the impact of making wrong hires, hiring for culture fit, the purpose of culture decks, 6 ways to embed company culture, and much more.


Are you having a strategic planning session soon? If so, make sure you're asking the right questions first:



Here's a breakdown of the conversation (originally live):

  • The cost of hiring the wrong person

"Culture is the oil between the cogs in the machine". 

Brett explains that in large organizations, you can get away with losing key people or hiring the wrong people (maybe just the department suffers). But in a smaller company, by bringing in the wrong person you can break the whole company. It's not just the cost of paying someone you have to worry about, it's the impact they'll make on your business. If you bring someone in that's able to do their job as well as improve the culture, the ROI is there much more clearly.

  • Hiring for culture fit

Brett says that it's impossible to find culture fit - because most CEOs aren't able to define their culture. The culture is changing all the time. It's an intangible thing that consists of good and bad, and that's developed over time. Hiring for culture fit is another way of saying hiring by gut instinct, which is biased, not reliable, and not scalable. Instead of hiring for culture fit or gut instinct, focus on hiring for values, as they're much more consistent.

  • Culture decks: What are they?

Culture decks allow your company to broadly communicate your culture. They include the values, vision and mission, but also the way you work. That means your approach to diversity and inclusion, how you solicit feedback, how you address mistakes and much more. Brett mentions that Netflix and Spotify are among the best examples for culture decks. To look through the culture decks of Netflix, Spotify and more: Culture Decks examplesSimilar to Reed Hastings' original idea of making the culture deck public, Brett says the purpose is for people to be able to understand the culture and think either: "I'd love to work there", or "I can't see myself fitting in there". 

  • How companies are developing remote work culture

Brett explains that the companies that weren't invested in their culture before the pandemic are the ones that are in trouble now - they don't have that glue to keep them together. Meanwhile, some companies a deliberately building culture for a hybrid environment. They're taking a transformational approach to turn themselves into either hybrid or fully remote workplaces. They're looking at fully remote companies to see what they're doing and implementing their best practices. They're looking at ways to build a social connection and implement a communication structure that makes sense. And finally, to reduce Zoom fatigue, they're building in asynchronous communication and documentation methods.

  • 6 ways to embed company culture

Brett explains the 6 ways to embed company culture, including:
    • what you measure and pay attention to

    • who you hire, fire and promote

    • how you train, mentor and educate

    • where you invest and allocate resources

    • how you behave in crisis situations

    • how you reward or recognize

Learn how a strategic planning consultant can help you create a plan that gets implemented:

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To reach out to Brett, email him at brett@culturegene.ai, or find him on LinkedIn

Also, check out Brett's books, Culture Decks Decoded, and Own Your Culture: How to Define, Embed and Manage your Company Culture.


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