During my last two invitational trips to the infamous ‘Googleplex’ I have always endeavoured to use my time wisely. I acted like a sponge; soaking up the wealth of knowledge and ideas I was surrounded by, with the intent of bringing it all back to the SponsoredLinX HQ. During both trips, I was treated to an exclusive two-day summit at the Googleplex. We had numerous Google experts, world-class speakers and networking opportunities presented to us. I have made a promise to myself to share as many of the ideas and strategies I was open to, and to share them with you.
In 2004 when Google moved to public ownership, the founding partners Larry Page and Sergey Brin addressed a letter to the new and would-be shareholders in which they said, “Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one,” and they’ve stayed true to their word. There’s not a single part of Google’s business procedures that are conventional, or normal, or predictable. The entire company is built on culture, and the people that make it up – and this has been the number one thing I have taken from my visits to San Francisco and Mountain View.
This was the number one thing I wanted to bring back to Australia with me. So taking the above into consideration, you can see and start to action some of the changes you might want to incorporate on the front side of things; the visible side. What about the other side of the equation, though? Your customers and clients matter to you, of course, but in the world of business there are other people that matter to you on an equal scale, and they are your staff. Your ‘team’, the ‘life blood’ of your company, the men and women who make up the ‘nuts and bolts’, the people who dictate your ‘bottom line’, and who, together with you, are responsible for the culture that flows through the veins of your company. Did you know that disengaged employees cost the US economy between $450 – $550 billion per year?!
I can’t even get my head around this number, but you know what I can get my head around; that if there’s anyone who can curb this money bleed, it’s the people at the top. It’s the CEOs and the managers – it’s you and I. We should be selling our company to our staff as well as our customers; we should be leading by example and creating an excellent place to work. Remember, small changes can equal big results, and there are a number of ways you can implement them.
At the Googleplex, they have micro kitchens so you never have to walk more than 50 steps to access food and water, because they know a hungry worker is an unproductive one. You might not be able to accommodate the extra kitchen at the office, but you can do what I’ve done for my staff this past month: shout them breakfast once in a while, have an ice cream van come to work and pay for a choc-top each, organise a taco van to come at lunch so the staff can buy something out of the ordinary, and while you’re at it, make sure you throw in a carton of beers. While some of you may think you could be spending your money more wisely, investing in your staff is one of the smartest investments you can make.
Secondly, respect them. Treat them like you were on a first date. Treasure them. These are the people who are making you money, and you want them to enjoy doing it. If your staff are happy, they will work harder for you. For me, I’m going to start bringing personal services in-house, like making the at-home chores available at the SponsoredLinX HQ. Options like hair dressing and nail sessions, and local Personal Trainers for group training sessions; dry cleaners who pick up on site and deliver back the next day; guided meditation led by someone who knows what they’re doing. Blending the lines of work and…. not work, so that one bleeds into the other, and the age old pressure of the workday week melts into the background, and we have a company full of people who actually want to be here. Remember, your most valuable staff are not the ones who make you money; they’re the ones who make you money and enjoy doing it.
In 2016, it’s going to be about optimising both sides of the equation. If you’re not careful it’s easy to get tunnel vision, and you will become bogged down with ‘that big problem’ you’ve been stewing over for weeks, maybe months. Every now and then it’s great to step back and look at the bigger picture, to really take it all in. As a business owner this is crucial – it’s why you hire specialists who know how to do the nitty gritty, like Google AdWords, so you can invest your valuable time in the bigger stuff. If you’re able to step back and see the bigger picture, and calculate where you want to get to, you can work backwards and identify the smaller changes that need to be actioned in order to get you there.
I’ve worked hard to foster a working environment that people enjoy arriving to every morning, and the opportunity to expand on this is something we’re all looking forward to.