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Creating Safe Space for Employees
Sean: From Kenneth Mendoza, how do you keep a remote team engaged?
Sean: My HR team does a fantastic job. It’s not me. Like, I’m not really that great with employee engagement, thinking of stuff that we could do to engage people in the team. I am not the best person to answer this, actually, but my HR team does a brilliant job of creating programs like game nights, webinars, or Bible studies that will just help the team to bond and talk with each other.
Sean: We also have our Discord channel where we can just hop in one channel or the other and talk with people to make a ruckus. I think it’s just me making a ruckus most of the time. So yeah, and then we chat them, we ask them how they are. I do a lot of one on ones recently because a lot of – I’ve been able to delegate a lot of my work to other people.
Sean: So I’m happy about that. My wife’s about to give birth sometime soon, so I have to do it, and I’m happy about the results because then I have a lot more time doing one on ones with other people now. So that’s how we do it for now. We haven’t seen each other since pre-pandemic, but I am very happy about our relationship with each other. It’s not like we’ve lost touch, we chat every day. We have Zoom meetings almost every day, yeah every week we have team meetings, and we see everyone in the town hall meeting every Monday. So yeah, those are little things, but very important because we can’t really just talk and see each other and ask each other how we’re doing in the water cooler in the office now.
Sean: How can I encourage my team members to speak up?
Sean: They’re comfortable talking to me, but it becomes a challenge when we ask them to speak their mind in an app or platform. I guess you have to first, create a culture of safety, an environment of safety where people can speak up. That doesn’t mean they’re not going to be responsible about what they say, they have to be responsible about what they say.They can’t just say things like, they can’t just tell you that I feel like resigning and I feel like this, this, and this also feels the same way. Like they can’t just say that, they have to qualify it really well. So those are things that they have to take responsibility for.
Sean: All I’m saying is when you create a culture of safety, a psychologically safe zone where people can tell you stuff, they still have to be responsible about what they say. They can’t cuss you, they can’t say bad things to you. They have to respect you. They cannot behave in a way that is going to be a form of misconduct.
Sean: So that said, make sure that as a leader, you listen to your people. And when I say, listen, you don’t just listen with your ears, you listen with your hands also, you act on what it is that they’re saying if it makes sense. If it makes business sense if it makes team sense if it makes cultural sense to your team. So I’m not telling you to be a subservient CEO or a subservient leader – that you are going to follow everything that they say, if that’s the case you should have just worked as an employee rather than a CEO. You have to make sure that you are making the critical decisions that are best for the entire team, not just for one or two people who are telling you their opinions in that circle of the safety zone.
Sean: So it is a tough dance that you have to do as a leader, but people will speak up if they know that you listen, you have a sound mind, you have wisdom, the wisdom of God and you actually act on the things that make a lot of sense for everyone. I think in SEO-Hacker, that’s the kind of culture we have. People just speak up. They tell us what they think. In fact, they rate the management, they rate me and the other leaders. Can you believe that? Every month we get that twice, and when we get scores around 7 and 8 we already get weary? That’s how we are as leaders and we really act on what we can.
Sean: From Lester, how do you handle an employee that is older than you?
Sean: I actually think that, like strictly speaking, the word handle is pretty, pretty strict, pretty tight, pretty gripping. I don’t like the word “handle”. I would say lead – how do you lead the employee or the member that’s who is older than you?
Sean: And I say lead by example. I mean, age doesn’t matter when you’re like when you’re my age, I’m 32, turning 33 this September 6, and when you’re my age, it doesn’t matter if you have a personnel who’s like 40 or 50. It’s like, you’re all the same. When I was 20, it was tough for me to hire someone 30 or 40 because I had a lot of immaturities and I wasn’t a really great leader way back when. Now I would say that I learned so much more and we have people now who are older than me. Thankfully, I’m not. I’m not the oldest guy on the team anymore. I’m not the oldest person on the team anymore.
Sean: This year, we just got people who are older. I’m not going to say their name or age, but they are older than me, and it’s the same as how you lead every other team member, lead from the front. Show them you work hard. I show people that I work really hard. In fact, I like working the hardest. I don’t like anyone in my team outworking me. And when you show them that you’re the CEO, and you’re toughed up and you work that hard. I think people are just inspired to work alongside you and encourage them. You know, everything that you do as a leader that’s what you do. That’s what you do, even for people who are older than you.
Sean: From Javis, how to create a good company culture?
Sean: When you say culture is all about how we do things. In short, it’s all about the process. So our mission and vision statement and our core values are memorized and recited by people in the team. So I wrote everything, I wrote our vision statement, our mission statement, our six core values. I wrote what it means, it’s one to two sentences short. And then I wrote a quote to back it up from someone else.
Sean: So people in our team have to memorize that, and they recite it every town hall meeting. And that ingrains the culture in our minds that, ‘okay, this is who we are. This is what we should be doing.’ And then we have our processes. We make sure that we follow, most, if not all, of our processes. There are those rare occasions where we have to go around and break a process just for one unique case. You know, there are those times, but often we do the process. That recitation every week, that’s part of the process – that’s part of our culture. How we hire, that’s part of our culture, how we fire, how we promote – that’s part of our culture.
Sean: How we give a memo or notice to explain to a person who did something wrong in the team, that’s part of our culture. How we fire people when they gossip in our team, that’s part of our culture. So culture is all about how you do things, and it’s not about the writing’s on the wall. You put your mission-vision statement in the wall, you put your core values in the wall, its just there on the wall, you don’t recite them, you don’t hire by them, you don’t promote by them, and you don’t fire by them. That’s not going to form a good company culture for you.
Sean: Your company culture is going to be formed for sure, but not by the ideals you make. It’s going to be formed randomly by random people, and it’s going to be a monster culture, because when a lot of heads think about forming something, it’s a Frankenstein, right? That’s what happens. And that’s why we see so many toxic cultures out there. It’s the result of your mission statement and core values just being writing’s on the wall.