"Know who you are" is part 1 in blog series: 6 extraordinary ways to be a great place to work
A few years ago, NetGain Technologies’ leadership team set a new goal: Every employee should be able to say in one sentence what our company does. Sounds simple, but it raised all kinds of issues.
NetGain Technologies was already a 20-something-year-old company when we set that objective. After two decades of business growth and expansion to several states, our team all had slightly different ideas of who we were and what our place was in the world. How could we explain in a single sentence the complex work we did, the unique relationships we created with other companies? More importantly, what would that sentence say about our values?
Next month we’ll turn 33. If you walk into any of our offices today and ask a random person what our company is all about, I know you’ll hear our mantra: Creating happy clients through effective managed service solutions. It’s what we do, and it’s who we are.
That single sentence is powerful. Sure, it sums up our driving force (happy clients) and our unique value proposition (we’re an effective MSP, or managed I.T. services provider) so prospective partners know something about us. More important, though, it reminds US who we are. If every employee knows that phrase, they know we’re client-centric, so they work harder for every client. They remember we’re first and foremost an MSP, so they focus their efforts on the managed I.T. services we provide.
Becoming a great place to work
Okay, so we have a one-line self-description. What else makes us unique? Moreover, how does that translate to a better work environment for employees?
To start, we’re also Millennials. The average age of our team is 33. (That means our average staff member was born in 1984, coincidentally the same year NetGain was founded.) You may be in an industry where the average age is 23 or 45 or 57. The number itself really doesn’t matter much, but having generational awareness does. We’re constantly looking at our employee incentives to match the expectations of a younger staff with different motivations than Baby Boomers or even Gen Xers. We’ve altered our office environments to make them more comfortable for a younger group that doesn’t assimilate to the routine of sitting at a desk from 8 to 5 like their parents or grandparents did.
Our “corporate culture” is based on some specific core values that create a reliable and positive environment for current employees. We discuss 10 principles—the NetGain Way—with prospective employees so they know what to expect. Their responses to those values also help us evaluate whether they’ll be a good match for our company. We can’t be everything to everyone, so finding the right “fit” means we can focus on making a better workplace for a group of likeminded individuals.
(Not familiar with NetGain? See more about who we are.)
Fill these roles: Culture Officer and Chief People Leader
When my brother and I joined our family business over a decade ago, we were not short on ways we wanted to improve the company. It wasn’t just ideas about revenue models and technological innovation—we studied other great companies and the ways they created a unique culture. This year, we identified a new leadership goal of being the “workplace of a lifetime.”
Knowing who you are as a company means top management must be involved in corporate culture. CEOs, Presidents, and the entire executive team need to lead the charge.
Over the next six months, I’ll share some of our experiences that have helped us become a 3 year “Best Places to Work” honoree. We’re constantly looking for ways to become a greater place for our employees. I hope you’ll follow along and share your experiences along the way as well. Check into the blog each month (or send me an email and I’ll let you know when the next article is posted).
Here is my plan for the series of articles: