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Improving Company Culture: The Importance of Supporting Your Employees’ Personal and Professional Sides

Company Culture
Feedback
Retention
Productivity
Toxic atmospheres
Health / Stress / Burn-Out

13 November, 2018

Sidharth takes an inside-out approach to addressing the challenge of joining a company and building a new team from scratch. Rather than framing the situation as a challenge to find “better people”, he focuses on improving the culture of the company before introducing new people to the teams.

Problem

I joined a company in which the majority of the tech team had recently left, so it became my responsibility to build this team back up from scratch. I wasn't sure which path to follow since we were in a geographical area which would require me to recruit freelance developers or outsource. This did not seem ideal.

Actions taken

I knew that before we brought new people in, we had to identify what the underlying issues were that led to so many people leaving in the first place. Through talking with coworkers, I learned that the previous developers were generally satisfied with their financial compensation, but less-so in terms of creativity and job-fulfillment. To attract new talent and retain current talent, I came up with a few key processes to increase engagement and build a positive sense of culture for our organization. I consulted with CEOs and colleagues from other companies to get ideas of what worked for them. Some of the bigger changes I made included holding bi-weekly workshops for developers to increase knowledge and support them in meeting goals, committing to monthly one-on-one meetings with reports, delegating leadership responsibilities effectively (to avoid carrying too much of the burden myself), and fostering an open-feedback culture for the organization. It's important for an organization and its members to recognize that feedback can't really be bad if it's constructive. We want people to feel safe sharing opinions and observations with everyone in the company. I actually request that my reports bring me at least three pieces of feedback for me to every monthly check-in meeting. Hierarchy doesn't apply - we work together and we need to have open communication with each other.

Lessons learned

When it came time to choose candidates, I realized that having these things in motion was beneficial in terms of how attractive our organization appeared during the hiring process. People want to work for an organization who appreciates both their professional and personal sides. This is especially true in engineering, as we tend to be a very diverse population. Time has shown that these processes have also significantly improved our retention rates once we brought on those great new developers. The work isn't done, though. Every three weeks, I take time to evaluate things and determine if different types or amounts of support would be beneficial for the team or for individual team members. So far, the feedback from our employees has been extremely positive!


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