As a professional services company, our team is the heart and blood of our business. In order to keep a business growing and thriving in a competitive market, the team and more importantly the leadership, needs to be consistently engaging with each employee in strategic and creative ways.
One of my favorite quotes comes from J.W. Marriott, a man who came from poverty and started his career with an A&W root beer stand, but with hard work and determination in time he created a worldwide hospitality empire.
He said, “If you take care of your employees they will take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself.”
Today, we were recognized as one of Crain’s Cool Places to Work in the state of Michigan, which acknowledges 100 different companies that provide an enjoyable place to work and a place where employees feel appreciated.
We have been very intentional about creating a positive environment at Twisthink. Here are some things that have worked for us and may work for you as you find ways to improve your company culture:
Get the right people on the bus, in the right seats
One of my favorite books is “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. In this book he says, “Leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with ‘where’ but with ‘who.’ They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”
We have found that the way people feel about working with their co-workers has a huge impact on not only job satisfaction but also daily satisfaction. We place importance on the people that are part of our team.
When Crain’s asked our team what the organization does that makes it a place where people would want to work, many of these answers were focused on the people that make up our team.
For example, “At Twisthink everyone cares about each individual on the team and it shows.”
In a competitive job market, it can be easy to fall into the trap of quickly filling seats with anyone who might be capable of doing the job. When we look for new people to add to our team we follow Patrick Lencioni’s philosophy of the Ideal Team Player, which is a combination of 3 virtues: humble, hungry and smart. We have hired many people using this philosophy and found that when you start with these three characteristics and then evaluate skills, it has led to great success. We highly recommend this philosophy to anyone looking to grow their team, and this video does a great job of describing it.
We know that the skills required to perform the job are important but often times we can teach these skills. We also know the other characteristics can’t be taught, but are critical to having the ideal team player.
“Twisthink has done a great job carefully hiring very capable individuals that fit well into the organization – they resist the urge to hire just anyone simply because we need more bodies, but are very intentional about hiring the right persons,” is what one of our employees said in the Crain’s survey.
Motivate your team by celebrating victories, big or small
Basic human need is to feel appreciated.
Problems acknowledge themselves but victories require attention.
These victories (both big and small) must be acknowledged and celebrated. Ways we celebrate victories as a team include multiple quick huddles throughout the week, the occasional cookout or end of day beer n chips or wine and cheese cart. We also enjoy a monthly team harvest from our kitchen hydro-garden.
One new thing we tried this year was to celebrate the close of a project with a client, just like we would as a team, with a gourmet cookout on the patio. Our intention is to have our clients see us as an extension of their team and this team celebration was a huge hit for us and for them.
Another small way we celebrate victories is by honking an old chrome and rubber horn when we land a new client or job!
These types of celebrations have a huge impact on any organization and show team members that they are appreciated for the work they do.
Take care of the space you choose to call home
It would be easy for us to find a location in a strip mall that is affordable. Instead, we choose to work in the prime downtown location in our city and make investments to improve space and create a space that promotes curiosity, imagination and supports collaboration and creativity. These investments may look different depending on the company and industry. For a creative services company like Twisthink, here are some things we have invested in and would recommend for other companies to try in their own spaces.
- Our spacious Kitchen / Conference Room is one of the most popular places in our office. Not only is it a great place to re-energize but it also serves as a helpful place for people to reconnect with other teammates on both professional and personal levels.
- Prioritizing natural elements such as multiple large skylights, large windows with an attractive vista, live trees, beautiful ceiling fans and an outdoor workspace have also helped boost creativity, reduce stress and increase productivity. This has been proven in various studies, for example, Harvard did a study that found when people work in green-certified offices, they see a significant boost in cognition and a reduction in sickness related absences.
- The hardest and most unique element to our office space is the surround sound music system that plays in every room (yes, including hallways and restrooms) throughout the office. We believe having music in the space is fundamental and essential. It helps keep the team energized and focused by canceling out other distracting noises from conversations and phone calls, it can be used for motivation and generally makes our team happier at work. This has also been proven by studies including CBS news that found 90% of all workers surveyed saw their work performance improve when listening to music during office hours. The reason this is the hardest is because everyone has different preferences in music.
By focusing on how you can make your team feel appreciated, inspired and cared for, will have many positive effects on your business. For Twisthink, it has attracted other top talent to our team, resulting in positive business growth. Attracting top talent is only half the battle. Keeping existing talent fresh and motivated is the other. At Twisthink we often say leaders are learners. Leaders MUST be curious and embrace lifelong learning. The demonstrable commitment to lifelong learning matters because we need to inspire each other and, as a C-Suite Leader from a mid-Fortune 500 ranging said upon visiting our space recently, “I come here to work with you because I always feel inspired.”