Leaders: What is Your Legacy?

I Love My Job

The San Francisco and Silicon Valley Business Times presented the “2012 Best Places to Work in the Bay Area” this week.

The 125 companies ranked in their publication clearly understand that their people are their priority. These exemplary companies foster work environments that attract and retain happy, engaged, and productive employees.

“Talent is the engine that drives any successful company, particularly in the Bay Area’s knowledge economy. Smart employers know the race for talent is always on and the competition is growing.”~ Mary Huss Publisher

Keeping your Edge

What Can you Do for your Company to Earn This Honor?

In this blog I would like to share some of the best practices and innovative programs these companies do to keep their edge and earn this honor. I hope they will inspire you with ideas for your company and as a leader you can learn from the winner’s success stories.

As the economy continues to improve, it is increasingly difficult to find and keep good people, which makes creating a great work environment all the more important.

Keeping employees happy in tough times involves being straight during the good and the challenging times.

Honesty and transparency are the key:

“As a result, employees don’t have to second guess if the ax is going to fall on them because they know the CEO and executive team will always tell the truth about what’s going on.”~ Landau Leonard Blach Construction

EMC shares that the “never enough communication philosophy” is important. This includes both sharing and the big L word.

Who can guess what that is? LISTENING!

It is amazing what employees will share if we simply ask the questions and keep our ears and minds open to hearing their responses. When employees love working for the company they love working for the clients too.

“Content, motivated and respected employees create an environment that leads to very satisfied guests. “ Hotel Nikko

What Is your Legacy?

Refuse limits, resist assumptions, and realize excellence are three of Stanford Universities core values. They believe changing the world is their legacy.

Intuit’s learning culture includes reverse mentoring. Young team members are paired with senior executives to share how they approach social media and they in return get an opportunity to learn about leadership and career trajectory from a pro.

Intuit offers incentives for employees to come up with “game-changing” ideas.

“The mindset we are competing against is I’m going to take one particular role and when that’s done, go to another company. We want employees to know we’re innovators and there are many different things you can do here, so you don’t have to leave. This is a culture that will take a risk on you.”~ Sherry Whiteley Sr. VP HR

EMC believes flexibility is a key to a satisfied workforce. This includes a program called “workwise” which allows employees to work from home and flexibility in how it tailors each job for the employee based on their strengths, interests, and career path.

“I have the ability to create my own success, and it is very empowering.”

Having Fun Is a Bottom-Line Priority

At Workday, this idea is not only believed, but practiced.

“Our most important assets are the employees, and people who are having fun do a better job. If you love what you’re doing you end up having a positive effect on those around you. It’s really vital.” CEO Dave Duffield

One great idea that captured my attention was their annual 24 hour “hackathon”, inspired by the TV show 24, in which the staff attempts to stay up all night and brainstorms product idea. Or a sabbatical in which any employee can trade in her or her regular job duties and instead spend three months working with Workday Labs, the company’s center for research and innovation.

SOARProjects CEO Manprett Grover loves the fact that someone can walk into her office and say:

“I’m really upset with you.”

Employees should not be afraid to say or do anything. We fight like family, we reconcile like family. It’s all about communicating and never be afraid to try something.

At Dropbox they believe the key is to not limit anyone at the company from being amazing. Still in startup mode, they are doing everything they can to make sure their employees talent stays nimble and doesn’t get squashed.

Their first line of defense against stagnating employee minds are programs that encourage people to work on new projects, allowing freedom from daily routine.

RIBs and random rewards are the keys to Primitive Logic’s success and happy employees.

“RIBSs: respect, integrity and balance.”

Happiness Brings Success

Be Engaged

Many of these top companies encourage employees to volunteer in the community and compensate them when they do.

Sure most of these companies have the happy hours, gym memberships, complementary dry cleaning, chefs preparing gourmet meals, pool tables, and nap rooms. But it is more than this.

I think it comes down to doing whatever you can to make your employees happy.

As Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos shares:

“What are things you can improve in your work or attitude to WOW more people? Have you WOWed one person today? We want to see random acts of ‘WOWness.”  http://www.klrconsulting.com/posts/blog.php?id=blog_31

Happy and engaged people are what keep all levels of employees at their companies. Executives and management have a responsibility to create an environment that enables and fosters communication.

We all want to work alongside people who share our passion. This is about creating a culture of collaboration, teamwork and excellence.

How will you make work awesome this year and maybe add your name to the list next year? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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Kristi Royse

Kristi Royse is CEO of KLR Consulting
She inspires success in leaders and teams with coaching and staff development

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