Hiring individuals who are not only aligned with your company’s mission, but contribute consistently in a meaningful way, is not an easy task. However, there are a number of tactics leaders can take to ensure employees feel valued and, in turn, reciprocate their value and optimize performance.
1. Establish a culture of trust
Leaders cannot create trust without demonstrating and living two very important values: transparency and empathy. You have to extend trust to your employees in an authentic way before they give it back to you. An essential part of this process involves facilitating an open space for honest communication.
We’ve been running trust huddles at Evite for a while now, where teams come together and discuss the behaviors that grow or degrade trust. The next evolution of this concept is structured programs around conflict, and we are in the process of transitioning to those discussions. We’ll regularly bring in experts to discuss and run workshops around conflict management in the workplace to further help with personal and professional development.
2. Empower your employees with information
I have a philosophy that people are inherently good and will make better decisions when you give them as much information as possible. Opacity creates downstream issues – when you give people the power of information, they’ll rise.
The General Electric (GE) leadership methodology incorporates a concept called cascading which we’ve adopted at Evite. Essentially, this is a culture of rapid information sharing. One of the most important roles of a leader is to act as an information disseminator. For example, if I have a staff meeting with a director, I expect he or she will cascade the relevant information to their direct reports, and beyond. To be effective, this model requires leaders to exercise a lot of judgment in how and what to disclose.
3. Be approachable
At Evite, we have an open-space policy where anyone can come over and talk to me; I don’t have a private office. This builds a culture of transparency which is necessary to building trust and effectiveness within an organization. We also make it a point at Evite for new hires to meet with me during their first month so I can explain my vision and overarching strategy; this allows for open conversation and helps every person at the company get involved in organizational leadership dynamics.
Steve Bennett was the CEO while I worked at Intuit from 2004 to 2008, and he had formerly worked for GE for 23 years. The main reason I joined Intuit was to watch him bring GE leadership approaches into a Silicon Valley company, of which one element was the concept of connecting with front-line employees. At Evite, I also make this a habit by taking front-line employees out to lunch or coffee on a recurring basis. This year, I’ve also added targeted CEO chats where I convene entire teams so I can hear directly from them.
4. Ensure diversity is authentic to your culture
Instead of establishing diversity benchmarks to hit, ensure it’s a natural progression of your team. It can’t just be “added on”; it needs to be authentic. In fact, Harvard Business Review published a piece a few years ago called “Why Diversity Programs Fail” which discusses how most companies are using the same approaches they’ve used since the 1960s which often make things worse, not better.
Ensuring diversity is ingrained in every part of your business leads to more impactful work and a more thriving culture. While recent research shows that women account for less than a quarter (24 percent) of senior roles globally, Evite boasts a leadership team comprised of 60 percent women. Across the organization, women account for 57 percent of all employees, and 33 percent of women are in tech roles. Diverse teams bring fresher, more creative ideas to the table. Diversity is essential; it isn’t just a business priority, it’s a competitive advantage.
5. Be mindful in hiring and onboarding practices
In order to be successful in a role, we believe candidates must encapsulate three core capabilities (the three C’s): cultural fit, communication, and critical thinking. We assess for those characteristics in our interview process, along with monitoring after hire whether someone is energy accretive, i.e. increasingly adding value versus simply meeting a job description. Since it’s such an integral part of the hiring process, our talent engine is run in a way that eliminates individuals that are damaging the business.