Have you ever wondered why some companies become market leaders, and others, despite their generous offer, cannot breakthrough? The most prominent technology players such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Gitlab, and Netflix know that organizational culture is one of the essential success elements. Therefore, they spare no money on innovative projects, experiments, and tests to create the perfect workplace where people speak a common language, share the same values, and pursue the same goals. Learn the seven principles that helped the industry giants reach the top.
1. Make your company’s values and mission the foundation of your brand, not just empty phrases
A great example is Patty McCord, who revolutionized working and managing teams in Silicon Valley. Thanks to her, among others, Netflix, in which she led the talent department for fourteen years, is today the VOD market leader. McCord knew from the beginning that the company’s values cannot be a nonsensical cluster of nice-sounding slogans but must become the organization’s real foundation because they create the brand. It is not without reason that only those who share and live following the company’s values can count on working at Netflix.
Indeed, you will agree with us that even the best specialists, if they do not believe in the company’s mission, will always be only average employees in terms of their work.
2. Complete your dream team
Did you know that it is more challenging to get into Google than Harvard? The technology giant receives from one to three million job applications per year and employs an average of five thousand employees. The recruitment process, for which the company spares no funds, is extremely rigorous, and its goal is to attract the best talent. The most significant players know that two employees from the second tier will cost them more than the first. How to do it? Amazon’s experiment shows how difficult, if not impossible, it is to identify the best talent without skilled recruiters. The company wanted to automate the recruitment process using artificial intelligence partially. Amazon tested a system that was supposed to improve and speed up selecting the best candidates based on the submitted CVs. However, it turned out that the trial discriminated against women. The assumptions based on which the program created the ideal candidate’s profile were derived from the previous decade when men dominated the industry. It was a sign that they should be favored for the system, even if they had similar experience and skills. Seeing the results, Amazon admitted that the venture had failed and withdrew from it.
If you want to acquire a dream team, you must have an efficient group of recruits, a well-planned process, and appropriate support tools.
3. Allow employees the freedom to make decisions
Surely, you’ve heard more than once that Facebook gives its employees a lot of freedom in action. Morin Oluwole, Global Head of Luxury at Facebook and Instagram, says: „It’s a start-up culture; we’re not told what to do to get results”. Another giant, Netflix, adheres to the principle of‚ freedom and responsibility. Employees of this company get a great credit of trust. They are treated merely as adults, well-formed people, capable of selfassessment and making the right decisions that benefit the company. This, in turn, generates a sense of value and responsibility in them. Netflix explains its philosophy as follows: ‚In some companies, employees pass by the rubbish thrown on the floor with indifference, because they believe that cleaning up others is not their responsibility. In other companies, employees pick up the garbage without hesitation because they feel responsible for the company and want the best for it.’
So, treat your employees as adults, let them make decisions to take responsibility for the company.
4. Allow employees the freedom to make decisions
You manage a company or department, so you understand that team leaders do not have a monopoly on good ideas. Progressive companies also know this well and allow everyone to test themselves. For example, in Gitlab, all employees can and are even encouraged to participate in projects that are not necessarily related to their work. The company offers them early access to the necessary tools and resources to support their work. Google, in turn, focuses on creative freedom, the possibility of experimenting and making mistakes. He knows that thanks to this approach, employees can create something groundbreaking. The company used the 80/20 formula, which means that 20% of the weekly working time the Googlers could spend on projects of their choice. This is how Gmail was born.
Don’t be indifferent to the potential of your employees! Encourage and create conditions for the emergence of innovative ideas.
5. Develop employees instead of introducing stressful practices
Maybe you’ve heard how far-reaching changes in the work culture have gone through Microsoft under the leadership of Satya Nadella? The company abandoned the stressful and test-promoting employee evaluation system instead of focusing on their development. By changing the company’s approach to employees, the new CEO made it clear that a ‚learn-it-all’ attitude is more valuable than „know-it-all. ‘ The growth mindset assumed that talent is not innate but can be worked on and improved continuously. That is why the company has replaced the petrified Talent Talks rating system that helps develop and identify hidden talents.
The time for rigorous evaluation is over. Generation Y, especially the Z, which dominates technology companies, requires a different approach – young people expect the right conditions for development.
6. Encourage feedback and learn from it
In her book “Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility”, Patty McCord argues that organizations that rely on honest feedback and transparent, open internal communication generate 270% higher ROI within ten years than companies that do not take these issues seriously. You will perhaps agree with us that when people feel that their opinions are taken seriously, productivity and job satisfaction increase. Technology giants know this very well and therefore promote transparent, open internal communication. Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter in 2010–2015, who previously worked at Google, admits that he learned from his former employer mainly about OKR (Objectives and Key Results), which he applied in his new workplace. This method of planning and achieving the goals of the company, teams, and individual employees is, according to Costolo, mainly an effective and efficient communication tool in the company and less a performance evaluation.
Only good communication, the essential element of feedback, concluding, and translating it into a real recovery plan, allows for development.
7. Bet on effective managers
While reading various news about Google’s activities, we came across an interesting study that this company carried out. It was supposed to prove that managers are an unnecessary link in the organization. The project called Oxygen, however, drew quite different conclusions. It turned out that good managers have a crucial impact on team performance and efficiency. As a consequence of this experiment, Google created a leadership training program based on developing the best managers’ behaviors.
According to Netflix, the role of leaders should be more about inspiring people than managing them. He explains his approach with a quote from the author of “The Little Prince”: ‘If you want to build a ship, do not call people together to collect wood, share the duties and allocate the tasks. Teach them the longing for the vast ocean.’
When creating employee development programs, do not forget about managers because they directly impact your teams and affect the entire company’s results.
Does technology help integrate teams?
The companies mentioned above are large, well-known technology brands. Young people feel inspired and motivated working in such places – they operate on innovative systems, are part of the change.
We would even risk saying that companies for which organizational culture is essential should take care of the appropriate level of technological development. Therefore, do not be afraid of digitization and automation. That not only means increasing the profit potential but a standard, the expectation of young employees who will be the backbone and the driving force of your organization in a few years.
We observed precisely this situation at one of our clients, in a large company from the service and production industry. Internal processes in the sales department did not keep up with the dynamics of the industry. As a result, the entire sales team (60 people!) headed by the director felt that they did not use the potential of acquiring new customers. Why? Because most of their time was spent on Excel reporting and struggled for the number consistency.
What did we do? See our case study!
We offered the client a holistic view of the sales process in the spirit of the Soft Systems Thinking methodology.
We divided the project into three distinct phases:
What does make us proud?
By automating the work of the sales team and introducing a Power BIbased tool to interactive visualization and business analysis, we proved that focusing on innovation brings the client tangible financial benefits. As a result, salespeople cut reporting time, improved prospecting results, managers could effectively manage the entire sales process.
But something more happened.
The sales team felt a part of the change, boosted creativity and developed their capabilities. They did the change by themselves. We only helped!
It is worth emphasizing that the company’s organizational culture, where employees want to give their best, is not the Fruit Thursdays and a free gym card. The leading technology companies show that it is primarily long-term, thoughtful actions, learning from your mistakes, and openness to changes that make the road to the top possible.
So, follow the example of the best! Build an organization that attracts exceptional talents, employees share your values, and gives them the freedom to develop and inspire them to act.
- Picture 1. https://home.kpmg/au/en/home/insights/2020/08/australian-project-delivery-performance-survey-2020.html
- Picture 2. Value Stream Map https://www.lucidchart.com/pages/templates/flowchart/lucidchart-value-stream-map-example
- KPMG/AIPM Project Delivery Performance Survey 2020 – KPMG Australia (home.kpmg)