Teams of all sizes struggle with their processes at some point in their lifetime. If you’re a startup, one of the your advantages is how quickly you can move in a space where the big boys take a while. But what happens when your team is in transition mode and needs to keep scaling up as quickly as it did in the beginning? And how do you this in a design capacity?
At the best companies, "company culture" is more than just a buzzword. Here's how the most innovative companies make company culture real.
For a comprehensive look at company culture, read our guide Company Culture for Startups.
Productivity is everything at startups. And, with all the chaos that happens at startups (growth, hiring, legal – you name it), it’s easy to lose sight on tracking your productivity.
That’s where Markitors found themselves last year.
Markitors is a growing digital marketing agency in Scottsdale, Arizona with 3 full time employees and 15 small business clients. If you Google “digital marketing company”, Markitors usually appears on the first page of the search engine results. As a result, you’ll find a lot of the chaos at Markitors that you’d find in a typical startup. Onboarding new employees. Finding new office space. Delivering results for clients. Making sure deliverables are met. And, ensuring that the company is operating at max productivity to bring on employee #4.
When we first started I Done This, getting to know our customers was easy. We also didn’t have a ton of customers.
As our subscriber list grew, getting to know our new customers became challenging. But we didn’t want to give up the close relationships we were developing with our customers. Our customers’ insights have been super valuable. And frankly, we genuinely like our customers and love connecting with them in a casual environment.
I Done This users are now based all around the world—so when we travel, we jump at the chance to get to know local users and have started hosting customer meetups. We carefully plan each step of the way, so that we set ourselves up for success. And by success, we mean having great conversations, really connecting, and positioning ourselves to maintain new customer relationships in the future.
Here’s how we plan our meetups to grow our customer relationships.
Every remote worker I’ve seen stumble and fail over the last year has had one thing in common. They weren’t involved in the team culture.
I don’t just mean water cooler talk – culture includes almost everything aside from your actual output. The system you work by, the amount of meetings you have, the very structure of your teams is governed by your culture.
So when an employee doesn’t engage in culture it causes three things:
- A feeling of isolation
- A communication barrier
- A lack of motivation
- Lower productivity
However, when culture is done right, it powers motivation, encourages communication, and forms a solid, centralized base for your entire workforce to draw from.
Over the last year of remote work the practices I’ve seen benefit our team the most have been:
- Assigning mentors
- Hosting competitions
- Posing problems instead of solutions
- Centralizing information
- Documenting processes
- Giving structured freedom
Let’s dive right in!
A 2015 study at NYU Langone showed that when mice were given oxytocin—the hormone that enhances bonding—they started caring for other mices’ babies, as if they were their own. This behavior continued even after the mices’ oxytocin receptors were shut off.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could give some to your manager?
It turns out oxytocin can actually teach us a lot about working together as a team and building great work relationships leading to more trust in the workplace. Here’s how it works.
People like to dismiss project management methodologies (PMM) as frivolous techniques that won’t really improve their business’s productivity. While they’re wrong on that account, they actually miss the point completely.
What people don’t realize is that PMMs are more than just process-improvement tools. Project management is really about changing attitudes to create a trusting, collaborative company culture. By adopting practices that encourage communication, unity, and openness, a company can instill positive values within itself and become a great place to work.
We’ll take a look at how companies can use project management methodologies to unify teams and encourage collaborative attitudes for a better work culture.
Qualaroo has been leveraging I Done This to continuously improve their ops, communication, and efficiency. Their team wanted to streamline their weekly all-hands on deck meeting process.
The Qualaroo team was slogging through a Google document maze for weekly meetings but switched over to I Done This 100% to run more effective meetings. At the start of the week they now list their goals with a #weekly in I Done This. Every day they see how their team is progressing against their weekly goals.
The team limits each team member to five talking points from their #weekly entries and the rest of the entries were reviewed independently on I Done This. Any communication that involves one other person or small group would be moved to after the meeting to ensure a speedy meeting. Qualaroo’s CEO, Brad Wittwer, called ecstatically about how I Done This just saved everyone on the team 30 minutes. After doing the math, this was a huge cost savings for them. From Brad, “I Done This just cut down our all-hands meeting by 33%, which means you just saved us thousands of dollars.”
Hollywood would have you believe that workplace conflict is awesome. Movies depict the best offices as filled with macho dudes in suits screaming at each other, throwing around insults, and somehow also getting fantastic results.
That’s entertaining, but let’s look at the facts: a 2010 study revealed that the average U.S. employee spends 2.8 hours a week dealing with disputes at work, resulting in losses of $359 Billion across the American economy. In reality, conflict pulls people away from their jobs and kills productivity.
With that in mind, your instinct might be to ruthlessly stamp it out wherever you see it. But that’s not always the best course of action. You need to recognize that not every workplace conflict is the same. It’s like criminal justice—a first degree crime is sentenced differently than a second degree crime. The context, causes, and intentions should influence how you deal with conflict in the workplace.
Here’s a rundown of three of the most common types of office workplace conflict, what they mean for your company, and how to solve them.
Not only is Google rated the #1 place to work year after year, but it’s one of most valuable companies on earth. And that’s by no coincidence. To get there, Google spent years perfecting their employee perks to create a positive and highly-productive environment.
But Google has only been able to grow into a $360 billion company by trying bold new things and constantly iterating their systems—not by blindly applying the successful models of other companies.
To succeed as a startup, you also have to be careful not to just adopt trendy fads, but rather find what works best for you through constant iteration. In fact, there are tons of companies that do the opposite of what Google does and thrive as a result.
Here are some examples of super successful startups that refrained from Googlifying their environment.
We do a lot of collaborating these days. But despite the number of open offices, designated “thinking” areas, and our managerial focus on small teams, we still haven’t mastered collaborative work.
In fact, we’re really bad at it.
The point of collaborating is to get everyone in a group involved and exercising their strengths. But according to the Harvard Business Review, “In most cases, 20% to 35% of value-added collaborations come from only 3% to 5% of employees.” In most collaborative teams, the bulk of the work still comes from a minority of participants.
In response to this imbalance in their own organization, Google launched Project Aristotle, an internal research project studying Google teams to discover why some were superior collaborators.
Google has a known penchant for quantifying everything. Project Aristotle expected to find something quantifiable, like the optimal team size or the most productive structure for group meetings. But Project Aristotle hit the ultimate irony: the key to collaboration is not a quantifiable. In fact, it wasn’t even codified. The best teams don’t have a measurable, highly visible solution to collaboration—they have an unwritten social code.