We have all seen images or heard stories about the fun culture at tech companies like Google and Facebook – cool campuses with slides between floors, bean bag chairs, and foosball tables everywhere.
At IBEX Payroll we have some of these things too. Our setting is not as fancy, but we do have a ping pong table, a regular foosball table, and my pride and joy – a human-sized foosball table. Pictured here is just part of the IBEX Payroll team going head to head at a game of human foosball after our quarterly town hall meeting in December.
Google recruiters can show off their fancy stuff to potential employees and I do the same thing with ours. One of the main reasons we built our foosball table was to help create a visible difference between our workplace and other software companies. The competition for the best technical staff is fierce, this helps with that. It also gives us a place to blow off some steam after a company meeting before we all return to our desks. A few laughs together is always a good thing before we go face reality.
You know what though? Outside our team company gatherings, none of this stuff gets used very much. Our culture encourages people to go home to their families on time, and we also work very hard to make sure people know what their priorities are, what is expected of them, and that they feel heard. The most important part of that town hall meeting was not the game at the end, it was the process that happened prior to that meeting and the “boring” talking part of the meeting right before the fun.
Leading up to the meeting, priorities for the company for the next quarter were set by a discussion with all the key leaders, and everyone in the company had their say (via anonymous feedback) about what we should stop, start, and keep doing. Key problems were addressed, and budgets were set. At the meeting, the priorities were announced, and questions were answered. Pretty darn impressive for a company with 30 employees if you ask me. We have been getting better and better at this for the last few years and not surprisingly our results have been improving in step with it.
Between these meetings, every leader at our company has a meeting one on one with each of their team members to hear them out completely and coach them forward.
My point is the fancy stuff does not really matter. The team at IBEX Payroll is the strongest it has ever been. We have the right people in the right places, each knowing what is expected of them and what the big plan is. We are not perfect, but we are improving our leadership system and skills constantly.
We could get rid of all the toys in a second, if we had to, with no fear of losing staff or seeing our culture erode. It is our actions as leaders that really matter most. And, none of us leaders need to fear the toys or trappings of those who are after the same great people we are. We should fear instead their leadership skills, their lived-out values, and their culture. These are the key things we are focusing on in the war to attract the best people.