By Krish Chopra
“Every week at our all-hands meeting I read “kudos”, anonymously submitted positive shout-outs about different people at the company. We set up an email that allows anyone to send in kudos about someone that has helped them or gone above and beyond during the week. It’s a nice refreshing way to celebrate the little successes that happen at a company every week.”
Recently I had the opportunity to interview David Walker for the ongoing series: CEOs Share 5 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Culture! David Walker is the CEO and Co-Founder of Triplemint, a real estate startup in Manhattan. In 2017, Triplemint ranked #325 on the 2017 Inc. Magazine 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in the U.S. Also, David was listed on the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 ranking for the Consumer Tech category.
What are the 3 most important values that your company’s culture is based on?
At Triplemint our culture is built around “starting with why”, openly sharing ideas, and supporting each other as teammates. During onboarding for new hires, I run a session called Mission, Vision and Culture and talk openly about they have an impact on culture from day 1. I also show the first 5 minutes of Simon Sinek’s TED Talk “Start with Why”.
Managing millennials can often be a polarizing topic. Can you elaborate on your advice for managing the “millennial mindset?”
I’m a millennial and I manage a wide range of people. I don’t find that managing millennials is a polarizing topic, I think managing people in general is challenging and every individual is different. If I had to lump all millennials together and find a common thread in how best to manage them, I would say it revolves around the “why”. Millennials tend to care more about why a decision was made as opposed to what the decision was. Clearly articulating your mission and the “why” behind it is a powerful way to motivate millennials.
What are your “5 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Culture” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Talk openly about how to improve your company culture with your team. At our all-hands weekly meetings, I regularly ask for feedback and ideas from our team. Most of our best ideas about company culture don’t come from me, they come from different people on our team. We also do a bi-annual survey of every employee and ask about company culture.
2. Celebrate the small wins. It’s easy to celebrate big company accomplishments, but giving individual shout-outs for small wins makes a huge positive impact on culture. We have an email set up that anyone can message offering “kudos” to anyone on the team for something positive they did. Every week I read out those kudos to the entire company at our weekly all-hands meeting to bring to light the small wins that wouldn’t otherwise be recognized.
3. Listen. Making people feel heard is one of the best ways to improve company culture. At Triplemint HQ my office has a sliding door, meaning it’s literally always open. People on our team know they can come talk to me about anything, but I also make sure to go walk around the office and proactively catch up with people I don’t see on a regular basis. I try to listen more than I talk.
4. Bring people together. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of a growing company, it’s hard to remember the importance of creating human connections. As a leader, you can’t force your team to connect with each other, but you create the platform that allows those connections to happen more easily. Host happy hours, charity events, talks, and even simply team lunches to bring people together in a social setting.
5. Set the tone early. At Triplemint I meet with every new hire on their first or second day for a session called Mission, Vision and Culture. Bringing up culture early and setting the tone right away helps welcome new team members into our culture on day 1.
Strong company culture is something that everyone likes to think they have but very few have it. Why do so many organizations struggle with creating strong, healthy work environments?
I think the biggest reason companies struggle with creating a strong, healthy work environment is that it takes a proactive effort to do so. We’ve learned this lesson the hard way. You can’t simply hire good people and expect to have a positive culture as a byproduct — you have to actually create the culture you want, and continually work at it as the company scales and the culture changes.
What is one mistake you see a young start-up founders make in their culture or leadership practices?
The biggest mistake I see founders make as it relates to culture is thinking that simple actions will result in a positive culture. For example, an open floor plan doesn’t automatically create a collaborative culture and having happy hours doesn’t automatically create a fun culture.
To add to the previous question, young CEOs often have a lot of pressure to perform and often wear many hats. What’s a simple time efficient strategy they can start doing today to improve their company’s culture?
I think the simplest way for founders to improve company culture is to speak openly about their desire to improve culture and source ideas on how to do so from their teams. The CEO must be the bearer of the culture he/she wants, but the best ideas on how to get there often come from others on the team.
Success leaves clues. What has been your biggest influence in your leadership strategy and company culture? Please feel free to share a person, book, another company, etc.
Simon Sinek’s TED talk “Start with Why” had a huge impact on how I think about company culture. The general concept is that people aren’t motivated by what you do, they are motivated by why you’re doing it. Usins that lesson in practice at Triplemint and explaining why we’re doing things has had a big positive impact on our culture.
Okay, we made it! Last question — what’s one unique thing (hack) you or your company does that has enhanced your work culture?
Every week at our all-hands meeting I read “kudos”, anonymously submitted positive shout-outs about different people at the company. We set up an email that allows anyone to send in kudos about someone that has helped them or gone above and beyond during the week. It’s a nice refreshing way to celebrate the little successes that happen at a company every week.
Originally published at medium.com