How to integrate employees with a different company culture?

Benjamin De Point

VP of Engineering at Olly Olly



Datto recently acquired another company, which has a different culture. At Datto, our number one driver is bringing value to the customer, regardless of the technology they are using. However, the acquired company was more theoretical and cautious in their approach, and were, therefore, quite averse to change. Several engineers joined my team, and I identified a number of them who were not a good fit for Datto. The easy answer was to ask the engineers who were not a good fit to leave the company. However, there had already been significant turnover, which was affecting morale, so I did not want to make that worse by firing people.

Actions taken

Instead, I decided to be clear about the direction of the company, to seek buy-in and then to let people decide for themselves whether they wanted to stay or go. This way, I could ensure that the remaining employees would be good fits culturally.

"To be effective, people have to buy-in to their company's, department's and product's direction."

Firstly, I presented a 2017 vision to the engineering team, which was quite innovative. Knowing that it would raise concerns, I discussed Datto's culture - a can-do attitude, progress over order, and failing quickly. I also announced a tech stack change and offered training courses to assist engineers if they had any knowledge gaps.

Secondly, I had one-on-one conversations with the employees who I believed were not fitting in well with the company's culture. In these conversations, I explained why I had asked to have a meeting with them, acknowledged objections they had about Datto's culture, and tried to address their concerns. At the end of these meetings, I let the engineers decide for themselves whether they could buy-in to the company's vision or not. Two of the three software engineers I thought were not a good fit have resigned and one is on the fence. However, I think he will stay. The people who have stayed have bought-in to our company's values and are actually energized.

Lessons learned

I learned that when integrating new people into a company, a good cultural fit is as important, if not more important, as a good technical fit. To be effective, people have to buy-in to their company's, department's and product's direction. I suggest being very transparent about your company's culture and project's direction so that no-one will be surprised by it.

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Benjamin De Point

VP of Engineering at Olly Olly

Engineering LeadershipLeadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementSprint CadencePerformance Metrics

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