I’m going to do something that I probably shouldn’t do. I’m going to lift the veil on a closed-door leadership meeting at a company that I joined a mere few months ago.
See, I recently joined the leadership team at Springbuk, a health analytics company in the heart of Indianapolis. Throughout my career, I’ve been party to several fun company cultures. I did the math the other day and realized that I’ve never worked at an organization without a ping pong table.
My entire career has been shaped by fun company cultures. (Using your best Villain Bane voice from The Dark Knight): You merely adopted the fun. I was born into it, molded by it.
I knew something about Springbuk was different from the first time I sat down with co-founder Phil Daniels over coffee, but I couldn’t quite articulate it. As I spent more time working with the team, I knew this was a special culture, but I wasn’t sure why it was unique. It was ostensibly identical to every other company I’ve worked for. Ping pong tables, happy hours, and clever t-shirts defined the office aesthetic.
Then, in a leadership meeting, behind closed doors, I figured out what made Springbuk’s culture so unique.
“We Come to Give”
Rod Reasen, our CEO, kicked off the meeting by asking us all to name one win and one challenge that our department has faced in the past month. As our leadership team went around the table, I noticed a formula for their answers.
Every single win was focused on another member of their team. Insistently humble, they continued to pass credit for victories onto other members of their team. Answer after answer, no one was willing to brag about themselves, but they gushed about things that their team had accomplished.
Meanwhile, every challenge was met with complete ownership. Not once did I see blame shift to a team member, another department, bad luck, or any other excuse.
It harkened back to something that Rod had said to me when discussing the Springbuk brand — “We come to give.”
That was the thing that I couldn’t put my finger on. The unique fingerprint of Springbuk’s culture was its focus on giving, rather than taking. Ask not what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company.
The more I thought about it, the more I saw it in every aspect of our internal communications. Praise was always public, and it usually came from the very top.
Our entire leadership team knows how busy Rod and Phil are, yet they would go out of their way on a regular basis to praise the work of interns in our General Slack channel.
Every time we announced a new closed deal, our sales team would go out of their way to explain how the lead was sourced and give props to the business development and marketing teams for the work they did to contribute to the deal.
Every time someone had a birthday, wedding anniversary, or work anniversary, the whole team would sign a card for them.
This culture ran far deeper than ping pong tables and happy hours. This culture was less about what we got out of the company and more about what we wanted to bring to the company, and it’s been the single biggest distinguishing factor of my time with Springbuk.
Creating a Culture of Giving
So, how can you create a culture of giving within your own organization? Based on what I’ve seen from the team at Springbuk, I have a few recommendations:
- Lead by example — By far, the biggest factor of Springbuk’s culture of giving is their leadership. When you see the company’s co-founders going out of their way to acknowledge employees’ good work, it puts positive pressure on leadership. If your boss (who is busier than you) can give a shout out to the new intern, you better have a good excuse for not sharing the love yourself.
- Reward those who give — In addition to the leadership team’s example, there’s a strong sense of “you get what you give.” When people give “props” in our General Slack channel, they typically get tons of reactions and applause right back. People like people who acknowledge their teammates.
- Hire for generosity — Finally, if you really want to build a culture of generous people, hire for generosity. Springbuk’s hiring process was pretty intense. I feel like I interviewed for a month before I got an offer, but by the time we got to the end, they knew me pretty well and it was a great fit. If you can afford to take your time during the interview process, you’ll likely get employees who show up far more excited, engaged, and generous.
If you’re interested in working for an organization that embodies a culture of giving, check out the Springbuk Careers page. We’d love to have you.
About the Author
Tim Hickle is the Director of Inbound Marketing at Springbuk, a health analytics company based out of Indianapolis. He is also the author of The Future-Proof Marketing Playbook and a workshop speaker who focuses on digital marketing strategy.