I recently visited a fast growing company with nearly 300 employees. As I entered, a friendly, cheerful receptionist greeted me. Since I was a bit early, I sat in the lobby admiring the decorations. Team pictures and recognition awards of all sorts covered the wall. I also noticed the receptionist was putting together nice frames containing employee service award certificates.
The CEO walked me through the office and I was impressed that she knew everyone by name, speaking with them as peers. Everyone seemed happy and working hard. They explained their work to me with enthusiasm and pride.
When I commented on the positive culture, the CEO described several team building activities the company runs, some as simple as playing mini-golf in the hallways of the building. These activities take just an hour but gather employees together for a good laugh and a little friendly competition. It reminded me that team building exercises don’t need to be elaborate, expensive off-site affairs.
Any activity that encourages interaction between groups that may not normally work together on a daily basis helps to build culture across the company. The key is to do it consistently without waiting for the excuse of a big milestone or achievement. Focusing on the people as well as the product releases provides positive results for both company and employees!
It is important for employees to feel valued and empowered so they dare to try new things. Even though their attempts may not result in immediate success, employees will learn and grow from their experiences. Supporting their efforts to take risks, and accepting periodical failures, is as important to new employees as encouraging a baby to walk knowing that occasionally she will fall!
After my short tour, it didn’t surprise me to learn that this company is doing rather well. By focusing on its people and making them feel important and empowered, the company has created a culture where every employee believes they can make a difference. As a result, they actually do. It reminded me of the “good old days” at Newbridge Networks, where I was lucky enough to work for several years.
My first boss at Newbridge always told me I would be more rewarded for trying and failing than for not trying at all, as long as I learned through failure to reach higher levels of knowledge and confidence. He was a wise man (and still is!).