Our First Company Handbook

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checkOk, maybe I’m a little late to the water cooler on this one. This instant company handbook has probably circulated through three million employee emails. But it’s too funny not to share, so here it is: our startup now has an official company handbook.

I came across this at an important time for our company. Maybe it’s just the necessary introspection generated by doing 2010 taxes, but I’ve been feeling like now is when we shape what our company is going to be – not what it will do, but who we are and will be. I’ve been thinking about who we can hire and work with and I keep coming back to one phrase – “let go.” The company is not me and the people that we work with and employ are not going to be me. It’s easy to say that but it’s tremendously hard to live. To grow a company though, you can’t impose a culture or mindset or even a method, you have to let go.

That company handbook of course pokes fun at corporate rules and mandated employee culture and values. We want to create a really fun, vibrant, creative, intelligent, and caring company like that hinted at by the handbook. But here’s the conundrum though – what happens when that very lack of structure becomes the mandate? Do we only hire creative people that thrive on lack of structure? Do we only hire people who like wearing jeans every day? For that matter, do we only hire college grads?

“Cool” companies are often subtle dictatorships. No one wants to have obligatory fun, an implied casual dress code, and be forced to play ping pong with the boss at 7pm when they want to be home with their kids or watching NCIS reruns. How do we instead mandate freedom? How do we create a company culture from scratch that isn’t about the people creating it?

It’s an exciting time for our company and these are the kind of things I’ve been thinking about. Of course, the way that we treat each other, inside the company and out, writes the real company handbook every day. We need to focus on living the handbook and leave the written ones for Internet templates.

You can check out the instant company handbook here (it’s fun): http://instantcompanyhandbook.com/

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Marie is a writer for Recruiter.com covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.