Culture and communication are the foundation for a strong company. We have identified some things that keep us thriving and happy.
A growing company has many challenges that it must overcome but few are as big as establishing clear, effective communication, and instituting a culture of respect and collaboration.
With the hundreds of tools and techniques promising to solve all your communication and culture problems, finding a solution can be daunting. However, through our experience at Springbox, we’ve identified some things that have kept us thriving and happy.
A project manager’s job is to make sure the team is communicating effectively. At Springbox, we have no less than nine official communication tools at our disposal. We even make it a part of the training and on-boarding process. During our on-boarding process, we talk about these tools, provide examples for each, and set expectations from the very beginning.
Springbox has doubled in the past 18 months which has made it necessary to shift to accommodate. When we were smaller, we always knew exactly what people were working on and drive-by 1x1’s were more common. But now, we have to be more respectful of peoples' time.
Office Morale can be affected negatively in many ways, and morale WILL affect the outcome of a project.
Office morale can be affected negatively in many ways. Boring projects, demanding clients, change in direction, and over-burn are all circumstances that can wear on the team. It’s important for team members to feel connected to the project in some way, otherwise they aren’t going to be excited about what they are going to produce and may not invest in the project.
Obvious Tip: BE POSITIVE
A project manager is a leader and steers the ship. If you don’t have confidence that things can turn around, your team won’t either. This doesn’t mean being fake about the reality of the project - it means reframing the problems as opportunities.
Control the information flow
There are some things that are better left unsaid to the team as a whole. Filter client feedback to deal with facts and not with emotions. Try to solve problems with the client before you bring those problems to the team. In over-burn situations, keep the budget on a need-to-know basis. This isn’t about being secretive, this is about being responsible with information and anticipating how it may affect the team.
Be solutions oriented
This relates to being positive. When a problem that can affect morale is identified, don’t keep the emphasis on the problem. Instead, put the emphasis on the solution. Problems should be looked at as something that is in the past. Being in this business, we must be problem solvers by nature and this can be an exciting part of the project.
Be there for the team
If your team is there, you should let them know that you’ll be there for them too. This may mean that sometimes you stay those late nights with a developer even if it means just working beside him or her. Physically being there for your team lets them know that you care just as much about the project and you’re not just a taskmaster. Think of your team like your family. Sometimes you may not be able to provide a solution or input, but just being physically there for them can be enough.
You are not be above bribery/rewards
Sometimes you just have to buy cookies. You can’t underestimate the power of food or the promise of a happy hour. Sometimes something as small as a few pizzas can give the team the boost it needs.
Just as change is inevitable, the good times and the bad are too. There are always ebbs and flows with workload and within projects. Some things stated above are out of your control but your reactions to those events are what you can control, which in turn can change morale. As there is ebbs and flows with work, there are also the same ups and downs with employees and people leaving. Here at Springbox, we tend to celebrate the people who have put in their dues.
We allow people to come and go as they please and we have unlimited paid time off. This works because we hold each other accountable. We are accountable to each other and our clients. Although we have a flexible policy and flexible hours, it is not abused. People want to be here and have FOMO (fear of missing out) when they aren’t.
Bring your best friend to work (dogs allowed)
We all love our dogs. Enough said.
Team games (kickball)
We are all competitive and love team sports. This is something initiated and paid for by the individuals within Springbox and not sponsored, prompted, or paid for by Springbox. We like to hang and we love to win.
Happy hours and other events
We have a lot of happy hours - company sponsored, impulsive team happy hours, project team happy hours, all of the happy hours. Other events also (most likely) include drinking.
Team and company offsites
Team offsites are a huge part of our culture and we all look forward to them. These happen on the team, manager, Senior Leadership, and organizational levels. We go to fun places and have a great time. Some activities in the past have included Top Golf, Blazertag, Ropes Course, Panic Room, Abel’s on the lake, and really anything you can think of!
Holy F*ck!ng $h!t! We work hard and we like to recognize those who have gone above and beyond or have delivered something beautiful, brilliant, or otherwise incredible. Anyone can nominate anyone and these are gathered throughout each month. At the end of the month, Senior Leadership selects one person to receive the award and they receive some type of monetary award.
Lunch and Learns
If an employee goes to a conference, event, or has a topic they would like to present on, they set up a lunch and learn and we all bring our lunch, listen, and ask questions.
Weekly All Hands
Every Monday morning we gather as a company and senior leadership will present updates on the company, general housekeeping; team members present work; we touch base and talk as a united team - only after we’ve had our Monday morning breakfast tacos, of course.
Onboarding and Lotto Lunch
We’ve embraced the fact that we’re growing and need to plan better for new hires so they feel as comfortable as possible. If a new hire doesn't feel integrated into your company’s workplace in the first 90 days, they are more likely to leave within the first six months. We have to protect our culture and do so starting with our interview process. We typically have 3-4 rounds of interviews and by the end a candidate will have met with almost the entire company. We’ve built our onboarding to include more teams shadowing other departments or lotto lunches; a new team member will randomly select two others from a bingo spinner to go to lunch with. We also send out a summary of the new hires and include a picture.
We are surrounded by people with an eclectic mix of backgrounds, experiences, and personalities. Strong and efficient communication is key in positive growth and morale can help or hurt growth. Positive and negative attitudes are infectious - make sure you’re spreading the right one. Team events and activities not only bond team members, but also create camaraderie. Create an atmosphere where your people feel comfortable - the sooner new team members feel comfortable, the better. And finally, it’s important to recognize that people come and go, especially in growing companies. Celebrate the people who have put in their time and who will be missed. It’s hard to lose someone that is awesome, but be happy for them and supportive - don’t be awkward or dog on them for their decisions. Maybe even throw them a party!