I believe in practicing what you preach, so professional development is important to me. If you’re not driving yourself through development, then you’re not preparing yourself for the next challenge or opportunity that’s coming. Instead, you’re relying on your day to day role to equip you for every eventuality. I prefer to boost my skill set and abilities with additional learning.
One way I do this is through reading. One book that’s been popular in our staff library is Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh.
This is the autobiographical account of the steps that Tony went through to create Zappos, which went on to be acquired by Amazon.com for $1.2 billion. What resonated most with me was the importance that Zappos placed on culture.
Culture and staff retention
I’ve always been interested in the culture we have at IRIS Connect. I’ve been here since we were a very small business of only 6 people and have seen the company increase dramatically in size. I’ve watched how our culture has changed when our departmental teams have gone from just one person to 10+ in only a few years.
To me, ‘culture’ is best summed up by what you believe and how you behave. Perhaps in times of low staff retention, an improved company culture can help organisations answer the question: How can you attract, keep and grow your employees?
4 suggestions to shape and develop culture
Delivering Happiness offers a lot of insight into developing the sort of culture where everyone wants to work. Some of my favourite suggestions from the book are:
- ‘Ask Anything’ – a monthly, anonymous email Q&A that enables staff to literally ask anything. This is something we’ve implemented and is a great way to facilitate communication between staff, to discuss any grievances in a non-confrontational environment and for managers and directors to explain why decisions have been made.
- Socialising together – whether it’s at the pub after work on a Friday or doing something more active that involves less alcohol, becoming friends outside of work helps create a comfortable, approachable atmosphere working environment.
- Practicing what you preach – as Delivering Happiness advocates, your brand is your culture. We ask teachers to invest in their professional development and so we do the same. It’s not just teaching that can be seen as a learning profession, I think this can be applied to almost any role.
- Giving people the freedom to make their own decisions – making everyone feel like their voice is heard and their ideas are valued will help staff feel as if they really matter to the organisation. It will also empower staff, as they will feel that they are in control of their work.
If you’re interested in checking out Delivering Happiness for yourself, it’s available on Amazon.