Titles haven’t ever been a huge deal at Bamboo. Sure, we have junior and senior positions. Yes, there are managers. But when it comes to leading, everyone is encouraged to step up to the plate. That’s why we added “lead from where you are” to our company values last year. We’d been living it for a long time, but we finally made it official.
Every one of us is asked to be a team player, and we are also expected to be autonomous. So we take responsibility for things we work on, but we’re careful to make sure our projects involve and help our team. There aren’t any taskmasters around here because we’re all expected to have a leadership mentality.
Here are some of the ways Bambooligans lead from where they are (and how you can encourage your employees to do the same):
· No one is exempt from presenting. We try to get together pretty often as a company—about once a month. And there are usually a few presentations from all levels and departments. So, just because you’re entry level doesn’t mean you won’t be presenting some tips on how to get in the zone at work. This reminds everyone that they’re never too senior to learn from a coworker. It also gives everyone an opportunity to teach. Look to every employee in your company to see what qualities or skills they possess. Letting them teach will make them smarter—two studies published in the journals of Science and Intelligence found that oldest children have higher IQs because they spend so much time coaching their younger siblings. Even if you can’t give employees a captive audience to teach, you can have them present something to their team.
· Everyone’s ideas are valid. Our CEO has asked me multiple times, “How did that go?” and “How can we improve?” I’m no exec, but he genuinely respects my thoughts. And that’s cool. Good ideas can come from anywhere, and that’s really practiced here. Steve Jobs really captured the essence of this when he said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Hire amazing people and then make sure their voices are heard within the company. You won’t be able to execute every idea. There will probably be times when you flat out disagree with ideas, and that’s okay. A little diversity in thought from intelligent employees will improve anything you would have come up with on your own. So brainstorm with your employees. Ask them how the company can improve. Whether you have one employee or 100, you’ll at least double the unique ideas being considered for the company.
· Employees are given ownership. Got an idea for improving onboarding in your department? Lead it! Want to create some employer branding collateral? Great! Put together a plan. Now, we don’t just do whatever we want, whenever we want. (Otherwise I’d just read articles about culture all day.) But proposing and leading projects to improve departments is pretty common. Many super successful innovations came from regular ol’ employees—including one you probably use every day: Google. Paul Buchheit was a computer programmer who created Gmail during his 20 percent time—a time given to employees to work on any project they want. (Fun fact: He also came up with Google’s value “Don’t be evil” in a company meeting.)
· Time is taken for professional development. We don’t spend 20 percent of our time on our own projects, but we do encourage employees to spend some work time on professional development. The creative team has one hour of time set aside each week for developing their craft. Our customer service teams are encouraged to watch recorded webinars to help them develop their leadership and other skills. Many departments have even started setting goals for development. When your employees gain new skills, the company gains them too. Plus, opportunities for career growth are one of the top three non-financial motivators for employees—76 percent of them say they want it.
Have you created company values to help promote a great culture at your company? “Lead from where you are” is one of our company values at BambooHR. This is the fourth in a blog series designed to explore different company values, see if they may be right for your company, and discuss how you can apply them in your workplace.