Inspiring your team: Learn from the best
Inspiring and engaging your team is one of the keys to a successful business. Otherwise known as your company culture, as legendary business consultant Peter Drucker once said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Although strategy will never cease to be important, culture acts as a guide for this strategy that, if your employees are fully a part of it, will always be going in the right direction. Culture attracts talent that shares the same values and goals as you. Culture makes it all the more clear whether a business decision is right or wrong for the company.
Here are three companies with definitive working cultures, that we can learn from in terms of inspiring and engaging teams.
The global travel search site Skyscanner promotes flexibility as a mainstay of their core offering. This has become important enough to feed through into their working culture, and the lives of their employees. Skyscanner encourages its team to fit their hours around the times that suit them best – as long as you do your best work, and are committed to the success of the company, it doesn’t matter to them when you do it or where from.
Of course, this has added benefits for a company that has offices and employees based throughout the world, as well as a very international customer base, as it means that there will be a point of contact in the company at most points throughout the day, rather than being limited to 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. Skyscanner is all about travel – particularly travelling cost effectively to far away places. This feeds through to their company culture in the form of a generous holiday policy so that their employees can experience the very products that they’re dealing with on a daily basis.
Etsy is an online marketplace for artists, vintage fashion sellers and anyone remotely crafty, and is known for its beautiful imagery and vibrant, ethical online community. The company inspires its team through creativity in all aspects of its operations. Their headquarters are populated with furniture and items sourced from Etsy’s international sellers, as well as some employees' canine friends after they introduced a dog friendly policy for their staff.
This commitment to a creative, homely environment is reinforced by the laidback attitude Etsy has to their employees, through, for example, what they wear, how they decorate their desks and meeting spaces, and facilitating groups and activities to keep the creative juices flowing. As well as having vibrant surroundings to reflect their website’s quirky nature, they are also committed to doing good, ensuring that all employees get involved in bike riding, composting and volunteering.
No discussion of inspiring and engaging your team would be complete without looking at Google. With the world’s information at its fingertips, Google makes use of the latest research to ensure they’re doing the very best for those who work for them.
There are free doctor and dentist appointments 'on-campus', because Google wants to minimise the time employees have to spend away from work on these visits, and also because management truly want their employees to be happy and healthy. This has also led to there being gyms, nap pods and organic meals cooked on-site – anything to facilitate people working at the top of their game on very creative, and very highly technical projects. To help engage the wider Google community, there are even “Bring your parent to work” days, where you can take the time to show your parent what you’re working on, who, depending on their age, may not fully understand what it is that you do at the high-tech behemoth.
If we can learn anything about inspiring and engaging teams from these three masters of culture, it's to never do anything by halves. If you’re committed to the future success of your business, you should be willing to do whatever it takes, within budget and reason, to inspire your team.
That being said, you need to have a defined culture to begin with for this to happen. Skyscanner is all about being flexibly and internationally minded. Etsy fosters creativity in everything their employees do, just as they try to do throughout the world. Google’s pivots on a love of learning, productivity and doing good, which has sparked their unique culture that even has goats to mow their campus lawns instead of lawnmowers because they’re fun for the staff, more efficient and better for the environment. Goats might not be for you, but this creative way of thinking about engagement could well lead to the productive, inspired team your company needs for success.
Do you engage your employees in a creative way? Is your office a particularly inspiring place to work? Tell us in the comments below!