If you want to work alongside the team you helped build – happily – you have to prioritize company culture.
Above and beyond any of the (very expensive and often useless) lessons I learned in business school, is this lesson that I learned beyond the walls of that prestigious university: invest in your team.
I’m a curious person by nature so when I get an idea into my head, I have to find out what the world has to say about it. When I started thinking about company culture, the way I learned about it, and how to do it right, was simply by talking to everyone around me. I asked clients what they thought, I asked friends what is done in their companies and, perhaps most importantly, I turned to my own employees and asked them what they wanted to see at WadiDigital.
I used to believe that everyone should come to a physical, central office every day. But what ends up happening? The managers go in and out as they please, as the employees work at their desks. A culture of “do as I say, not as I do” builds, which leads to resentment and negativity. This ultimately leads to employees leaving. Regardless of how much free food and table tennis you offer them. No one wants to feel like they are forced to put their work before their personal lives.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong.
I now believe in “work-life-integration” as opposed to “work-life-balance”.
Integration takes into account how we act as real people. I know and you know that just because you are at work does not mean that you aren’t thinking about and dealing with personal matters. Integration means that I understand that you have needs outside of work, so get to them when you need to and make sure that your work is getting done. It can be between the traditional work hours, or not! As long as the work is getting done and you are responding to the client’s needs. Need to get to the dentist during the day? Go for it and grab a toothbrush for me too. Just finish up those emails after you get home.
Company culture isn’t just about allowing your employees the freedom and trust to make their own decisions, it’s about how that works into the team as a whole functioning seamless operation.
Here are the 3 steps we take as a company to make sure that our culture is one where everyone is pulling their own weight and also fits into the larger picture:
1. We communicate – about everything
Every workday at 9:00am everyone at Wadi gets on a call to talk about “everything”. Not work related, no business, no client talk, just hanging around like we would if we were standing around the coffee maker.
At 9:15 we break off into team meetings. The purpose of these team meetings is to make sure everyone understands what they’re supposed to be working on and how it fits into the larger picture of what the company is doing and how we can best serve our clients.
Even when we aren’t in a meeting, everyone is helping each other all day over Whatsapp. There is also a Google Meet link that is always open for people to jump into – video required – so they can see each other, and work together like a team.
2. We get together outside of the office
The whole team gets together once a month outside of the office for a non-work related activity. The bonding and teamwork that is forged outside of work, is always brought back into the work in the most positive and productive ways.
3. We share our knowledge
Once an employee has been working for Wadi Digital for a few weeks, they are encouraged to post regularly on LinkedIn.
This is for 2 reasons:
It is a tangible representation of the company culture of “giving and providing value”. Career development is very important to me. Many employers don’t want their employees to post on LinkedIn because it increases their visibility and may lead to more approaches. But with open relationships and transparency with my team, I don’t see it as a threat but as a way to help each other, engage on each other’s posts and elevate everyone’s personal brands.
The bottom line for me is that I strongly believe that understanding and trust are the foundations of a strong company culture. I make these the basis of every leadership decision and action that I make. As a result, I have almost zero turnover in my company amongst my employees and I am sure that it is because I have taken the time to learn about and invest in them.
Trust me, invest in your employees and you’ll see the ROI every day. I do!