Gone are the days when employers can sit back and suck blood from their employees, confident that the minions should be grateful just to have a job in such a glorious institution.
It’s competitive out there – if you want to attract and keep the best talent (and the best talent wins in any business), you need to be offering inspiration and fulfilment in the workplace.
You’re asking someone with perhaps many options to choose your company for their financial security and their family’s livelihood; their professional aspirations, hopes and dreams, and what might well be the single biggest contributor to their sense of worth and self esteem.
You’re asking them to not just show up and go through the motions, but to bring every bit of drive and creativity and tenacity and awesomeness, every day. And if they’re inspired and fulfilled, then they will bring it, and a whole lot more.
Here are five ideas that we’ve applied in our business:
1. SHARE YOUR VISION
This is where it all starts. For your team to be inspired, they need to know what your vision for the company is, what you stand for, and where you’re headed. So get your vision documented – real and direct is better than elaborate and full of clichés. But it’s no good just sitting tucked away in your secret business plan.
Print it out in a big fat poster and stick it on the wall. Then work with each person to see where they fit in the masterplan.
Inspired by a Seth Godin blog, we recently asked each person to describe what they actually did, in one sentence, in their own words. Not their job title, but what they brought to the team, customers or suppliers. This has proven to be more relevant than three-page job descriptions. With this clarity, find a measure that is relevant to each person and their contribution to the vision, and set goals around that – the simpler this is, the more effective it will be.
Reward the reaching of this goal. Think about rewards that validate significance and acknowledge individual commitment and effort to their peers – sometimes a little reward with a lot of acknowledgement and celebration can go a long way towards fulfilment, without inciting too much destructive competitiveness. Think carefully before setting individual monetary rewards, you can quickly unravel a team dynamic this way. It’s a fine balance. We go for shared bonuses across the whole team for achieving company goals, and non-monetary rewards for individual achievement.
2. OPEN UP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION
More is more. Not necessarily more meetings, but more effective communication.
There’s a lot of bashing of meetings these days, but poor communication can be far worse than time wasting. We actually have a lot of meetings because we’re big collaborators, but they’re on a need-to basis, with a single agenda point most of the time. If it can be a stand-up meeting, it is, but if we have to lock ourselves in a room for half a day to really nut out some solutions, then we’re not afraid to do that either. But it’s not just what’s going on that’s important to communicate. How are you feeling? Any big wins last week? What did you achieve? Any challenges or obstacles? What needs to happen to solve them? What is your focus for this week?
These are questions we ask of every person every week, through a nifty app called 15five. You can plug in your org chart and a weekly report is automatically delivered to your managers and team leaders, giving them a great understanding on what is happening in their teams and stimulate conversation. For us, it means nothing festers until the next performance review, people feel like they are being listened to, and we can address any people issues quickly and effectively. I highly recommend it.
3. CREATE A GREAT SPACE
The physical space that is your workplace, though prosaic, is important. You don’t have to have a funky Dropbox warehouse funhouse, but you should make an effort make your space welcoming and inspiring. This is about more than just bean bags and ping pong tables – although a good coffee machine rarely goes wrong – this is about light, space, colours and configuration. There are very few instances where boxed-in cubicles are inspiring. Isolation is rarely as productive as collaboration, so think about how people are positioned and how they work together. And shared “breakout” spaces should be reinvigorating, not just functional.
Giving someone the freedom to make a space work for them can be game-changing for their validation and their positivity. It’s the little things that make a big difference, so why not let your people create the workspaces that they feel comfortable in. Involving your team will also get you real buy in, a sense of ownership. At Vinomofo, we created a volunteer workplace task force.
4. HAVE A BALANCE OF FREEDOM
We’ve learned the hard way that a good culture is about balance. Work smart not hard is a dangerous place to be. Work smart and hard makes for a better culture.
It’s nice to think that starting at 8 or 9am shouldn’t be necessary, or that you can really only focus productively for 4 hours a day. But we found that rocking in to work whenever you want can foster sloppiness in other areas, and creates resentment from the rest of the team who do put in the hours. It’s so important that everyone feels that the people around them are committed to giving their best, all the time.
As an employer, if we trust that someone is committed, we’re happy to extend whatever flexibility and freedoms they require to make their work life work for their home life. I don’t care if that means taking time out to get a haircut at 2pm on a Tuesday. But you can’t take advantage of this flexibility. It’s give and take. We don’t want to ask someone to work back the next day to catch up, we want them to want to. We don’t encourage remote working as a rule – it’s a poor substitute for the high fidelity of face-to-face, team collaboration, and it’s hard to build a cohesive culture when people aren’t together. Occasionally is fine, but unless you need it because you can’t get the talent where you’re physically located, get your team together!
5. HAVE FUN
Seriously – you cannot overvalue the power of laughter in the workplace. At the ‘Fo, we’ve got a bit of a meme thing going on in our internal communications, and they get hysterical. It’s a small thing, but it’s become part of our DNA. Happiness is the key to everything, right? And happiness at work comes from the satisfaction of knowing you’re a part of something special, you’re giving it your all, you’re kicking goals, and you’re having fun doing it.
*Original Article by Andre Eikmeier: http://www.brw.com.au/p/business/mid-market/ways_eikmeier_create_an_inspiring_WoCBdEdYmyhQoN6q1eRz5L