(Photo courtesy of Abel Communications)
One of the main reasons I founded Abel Communications in 2005 was that, after more than a dozen years working for companies large and small, I felt like I didn’t fit in out there.
Early client wins led to referrals and the ability to hire full-time staff, lease office space and start thinking less about survival and more about growth and culture. Today, with nearly 20 staff and nationally recognized clients, I think about culture quite a bit and have recognized it as critically important to the success of our growing PR firm. If I had to describe our culture in a few words, I’d say that it’s all about high performance (do great work!), balanced with an emphasis on living great lives.
If doing great work while living a fulfilling and interesting life outside of work resonates with you, here are five keys I’ve committed to at my company:
1. Celebrate the wins, big and small.
Celebrating the wins is as important as the work that led to them. While you should (and we do) have big parties at the office, you can also have mini celebrations every day. We ring a bell that hangs on a wall to celebrate a great media placement and take walks to The Charmery, an ice cream shop in our neighborhood, just for fun. Also, never underestimate the power of looking someone in the eye and telling them that you’re proud of the work they’re doing.
2. Find time to connect on a deeper level.
We’ve been working with a culture and leadership coach for the past three years, and one of the tenets of our work together is to build relationships with each other beyond the surface level. Once you get to know someone’s story, you can better support and encourage them in times good and bad. We encourage employees to take regular walks with their teammates, or plan coffee breaks with managers. While you can’t bill a client for a trip to your favorite cafe, investing time and resources into relationships will only make your company and its work stronger.
3. Give and receive professional feedback with respect.
We give feedback to each other with the intention of helping each other grow and learn. The keys here are to provide and receive feedback with respect and to do so only after you’ve built a relationship. Much more on this topic can be found here on a podcast I hosted with our coach, Ted Capshaw.
4. Surround A players with A players.
When it comes to benefits, healthcare plans are necessary and foosball tables are nice, but the best benefit you can give an A-Player is to surround him or her with more A players, period. An A-Player may look slightly different depending on your industry, but here at Abel Communications, we seek individuals who are passionate about the work, accountable, critical thinkers, self-aware, willing to take ownership, team players, trustworthy, creative and dedicated to building relationships.
5. Embrace a flexible work schedule.
Given the nature of our work and our world, employees can often be as productive at home or another location as they are at the office. So we have embraced a flexible work environment. It’s not about 9-to-5 in the office; it’s about doing great work and working from wherever you are most productive.
Paraphrasing Steve Jobs in his famous Stanford commencement speech from 2005, none of us are getting out of this thing alive. So while we’re here, we may as well have some fun and enjoy the moments. I encourage everyone to take their work seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.
Overall, it’s been my greatest professional goal to create a workplace where we can deliver outstanding results for our clients while promoting a culture of balance and mutual respect for our employees. Good luck on your journey and drop me a note with your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.-30-
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