As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve been in the business of reinvention my entire life. This means treating each new venture as an opportunity to try new management styles and organizational approaches. In my 25 years in leadership roles and as current CEO of Blue Jeans Network, I’ve enjoyed discovering the methods that keep employees excited about the mission behind their work, helping the business to run more smoothly and ultimately creating new, scalable opportunities that spur innovation.
Creating an open-company culture is a primary focus for me and one that I believe benefits every company. Recently, I’ve noticed others across many different industries embracing new and unique tactics to establish a transparent workplace. In that light, I’d like to share some of my insights and observations for creating a truly open company culture.
1. Start with a 'no admin' rule.
Assistants and gatekeepers within the C-suite can slow down the executive decision-making process, and hinder important deals. We no longer live in a time where scheduling meetings and booking travel is a cumbersome process. Further, giving a person who lacks important strategic insight the power to dictate your calendar can often lead to imperfect decision-making and lost business opportunities.
By managing my own calendar, I’m able to align my schedule to the company’s goals and the immediate needs of the day. I encourage other executives to follow this approach, and have seen it happen with companies like Jazz, Twilio and Actian.
2. Open the door to the company’s quarterly board meetings.
It's quarterly board meeting time. For most startups, that means detailed reviews, projections and company performance audits -- but only behind a closed door environment for execs, VCs and advisors only.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a handful of public companies like Netflix and Twitter switch up their process, with live earnings calls/discussions. For startups, such openness, starting at the pre-IPO stage, can be incredibly powerful to provide visibility into your company’s board meeting process. At Blue Jeans, we open our boardroom doors to the whole company, and have seen this make a great impact on company morale, culture and employee trust.
3. Encourage face-to-face collaboration whenever possible.
Our company conducted a survey of business professionals and found that 94 percent felt that face-to-face communication improves business relationships. Seventy-six percent of respondents were less likely to pay attention during a web conference than during a video conference; and some even admitted to sending personal email or checking dating sites during a web conference.
An in-person meeting or video conference can encourage employee engagement in ways that a phone conversation, email or web conference won’t. Even in a global organization where in-person meetings aren’t always possible, video collaboration can capture a teammate’s body language and nonverbal cues, promoting intercultural competence and a stronger cross-cultural team dynamic.
By using unconventional tactics -- from opening up boardrooms to adopting a no-admin policy -- you'll find that it's innovative approaches like these that will keep the tide moving forward and will encourage companies to keep trying new approaches to the "business of business."