Culture, values and attitudes
I’ve been in IT for some time now and worked for many different companies.
I’ve experienced and learned a great deal in that time especially what makes a company awesome, or awful to work at. I’ve made a list below to describe what I believe to be the philosophy towards the building of a great team, and therein an awesome company.
The most successful quality within any company or team is a system of trust.
By sharing a common trust, there is no need for onerous micro-managing and cross-checking, to ensure the team is doing what they are meant to be doing. A circle of trust also secures any point that would normally have to be governed by layers of process, saving time and money. Trust also secures valuable resources within a company. Employees are often entrusted with company secrets, you have to trust each other. Establishing the rules of a circle of trust is critical.
Like mindedness and unity
Finding the right people fit is often more important than finding the right skill.
Skill or knowledge can be taught, but being an inherently trustworthy, dependable, self motivator is not always as easy to instil. Also, some talents like leadership, accuracy or natural analytical abilities, cannot simply be taught. These are talents which people are born with and finding those people that know how to leverage their special talents is invaluable. (Yes we do have X-Men amongst us).
Being unified improves productivity and team dynamics. Bad attitudes on the other hand are toxic for any workplace and skills. Experience or technical expertise just can’t make up for a terrible attitude.
Collaboration and team learning
A student inventor recently stated,”In the science world, interdisciplinary teams are a key to success. You have to merge the different fields of knowledge.”
All teams benefit by collaborating knowledge, skills, and ideas. Valuing a strong atmosphere of collaboration ignites synergy.
The happiest people are those that aren’t obsessed with themselves. When you give, you receive much more in return. The teacher becomes the student in most cases.
Proactive versus reactive *this and the next 2 points are based on ideas from 7 Habits of highly effective people
It’s so much easier to complain when things don’t go right, even easier to pass blame and try move out the line of fire. I call this the “pass-the-buck, cover-your-a**, dodge-that-bullet” syndrome. When things go wrong in a trusting, proactive team, it’s easier to just accept and acknowledge fault and then solve the issue. It’s another sure way of saving time and money. On the contrary, some company cultures aren’t satisfied until a full witch-hunt is executed and the scapegoat is thrown to the wolves. This is defensive, reactive behaviour and often ends in a destruction of trust and synergy. Another ripple effect of a reactive environment is that employees are scared or worried about uncovering any serious issues and things start getting buried.
Fostering a culture of ownership on the other hand, encourages early discovery (early warning) of issues and employees are acknowledged for finding and fixing issues (yes, even if they created it) before they becomes a massive headache in production and impact customers directly. Encouraging a culture that promotes discovery and ownership of flaws will minimize risk and fosters a ‘fix-it,’ instead of a ‘blame-it’ culture. Corrective measures don’t always need to end in judgement and tears, cut the drama and just get it done.
There can always be a win-win
In so many cases, especially in corporate politics, there is a tendency to make yourself look good by putting others down and passing blame. We all have special talents and abilities, but when used in isolation, they often aren’t that effective. Accepting your own flaws, sharing your abilities, and magnifying the abilities of those around you, will always end in a win-win situation. To be successful doesn’t mean you need to destroy those you perceive as rivals. Instead, partnering will bring about a win-win. There is more than enough work for us all to share.
Sharpen your saw
A man was trying to saw down a tree and it was taking ages. His neighbor couldn’t take it anymore and went over and suggested that if he sharpens the saw, he could cut it down faster. The man then replied, “But that takes time”. So often we relentlessly attempt to ‘saw’ challenges in life and work, but we never want to spend the time to read the book or investigate a better way, even for just 15 minutes. By taking the time to sharpen our saw we naturally become more effective. Ongoing training and saw-sharpening are imperative factors to success and professional longevity. They keep employees engaged, challenged, and involved. Knowledge is power and a stepping stone to wisdom.
Of course, things like this don’t work for everyone and this is not meant to be a fix for everyone and everything, but internalising a few of these principles will make you and your company more awesome and encourage your hidden powers of creativity.
Now let me get back to my code and trusty nerf gun, and may we all live long and prosper.