This guest post is by Jill J. Morin, CEO of Kahler Slater, an interdisciplinary design and consulting company. She is author of “Better Make It Real: Creating Authenticity in an Increasingly Fake World.” You can contact her by e-mail.
Recently, the Great Place to Work Institute announced the winners of its seventh annual “Best Small-Business Workplaces” — the top 25 small companies (25 to 250 employees) to work for in the U.S. Our company has made the list every year since the award’s inception in 2004.
I am proud to be one of Kahler Slater’s “3EOs,” or three co-CEOs, along with George Meyer and Jim Rasche. And for fellow leaders everywhere, I offer these seven fast, easy tips — inspired by Kahler Slater’s seven core values and practiced throughout our firm — for “besting” your own workplace.
- Trusting relationships. Positive, trusting relationships are the most potent pathways to creating a winning workplace and realizing your organization’s vision and objectives. Fast tip: Start upfront and choose new hires through consensus decisions — team-driven choices made by the candidates’ potential co-workers, not just by the HR department.
- Respectful collaboration. Two heads are almost always better than one, yet successful collaboration requires respectful communication, from engaging people openly and civilly to looking for value in others’ ideas. Fast tip: As a culture, make an agreement to build on others’ ideas. How? Start by always responding with “Yes, and …” rather than “No, but …”
- Passion. True passion, not superficial whims, is a requisite for real and lasting business success. Fast tip: Make passion a manifesto for the business, and ask everyone the ultimate question, “What is your passion?” Also, be willing to make difficult, passion-driven decisions, including letting people go if their passions aren’t the best fit for the business.
- Creativity. Fun is serious business, and play ignites imaginations and sparks creativity and innovation. Fast tip: Have regular “Creativity Fire Drills”—“Quick! Pin up whatever you’re working on and discuss it with anyone in the office who’s interested.”
- Integrity. Honesty rocks — and rules. Fast tip: Commit to being truthful, even when it means having difficult conversations or dealing with sticky situations (No avoidance allowed, period).
- Openness. The more people know about the business, the better equipped they will be to contribute to its success. Fast tip: Be transparent in every way, from opening up office spaces to opening up the books and sharing financial information. (One exception: when you are planning a fun surprise or practical joke!)
- Community. It’s important to be a part of your local community and the world community, and to share your time, talent and treasure for the betterment of society. Fast tip: Host a Volunteer Day at least once a year. Assign employees to different teams and charitable causes, and bring everyone together at the end of the day to share and celebrate their contributions, successes and experiences.