What virtual work teaches us
Two separate events inspired today’s post. The first was an email invitation from a local business partner’s firm with the following subject line:
“You’re invited to “Pigstock 2015! NC Style Pig Pickin'””
The second was a visit to a fellow software CEO’s offices in Cary, NC. whose nerf gun adorned bullpen of 30 somethings was abuzz with activity. They were all marching through their daily quota of phone calls in anticipation of tapping the communal keg later in the day.
What fun you can have with an office full of people!
That’s when I was reminded that Corevist is a company with virtual offices. No regular pig pickins’ or beer parties for us.
So how do we build community? More importantly, is community building amongst employees and their families critical to the success of a company?
You definitely get the sense that both of these CEO’s think so. They are both working hard to build a place to work hard…and play hard…together. It reminded me of my early experiences with a paternalistic IBM in the early 1980’s. Everything that you did was for the corporation and the corporation would look out for you…for better or worse.
Then I grew up.
I came to realize that a corporation’s primary responsibility is to generate the cash required to keep the proverbial doors open. Full stop. It’s not about creating one big happy family of families. It’s about perpetuating the corporation. You do that by continuously delivering products to a chosen market, in a competitively sustainable way, and generating enough cash to fuel the innovation required to continue to do so…forever. That’s done by:
- Setting a Common Mission, Vision and Goals for the organization
- Recruiting people who are skilled, curious, passionate and mature enough to become Committed to Each Others Success.
- Creating an environment that supports open, honest and constructive Communications.
You don’t do that by throwing parties. I’ve been to enough of them to know that while parties are fun in the moment, they mostly just leave you with a hangover.
At my age, I just turned 58, I don’t need, nor do I want, my company to look after my social well being. I recognize work for what it is. A place that challenges me and allows me to learn, grow and contribute professionally. It’s also the place that, in turn, if I do my job well AND the company thrives, compensates me for my efforts.
That’s a fair enough bargain.
Besides, I’ve got plenty of fun things to do in my spare time, and so do all of the employees at Corevist. We’ve all got our own families, friends and favorite activities that we’d rather be spending our private time with. With that said, we do spend a lot of our waking hours working towards the same goal and we all have a vested, and personal, interest in ensuring that Corevist thrives.
It’s hard working in virtual teams and you have to work quite hard to make it work. (Actually, we’re quite real, we’re just distributed around the world).
That’s why we lean very hard on the 3 Comms to success.
- We all know that our common mission is to provide Manufacturers who run SAP® a world class B2B eCommerce solution without the world class complexities and costs that they’ve been conditioned to expect. For the past 7 years, we’ve delivered on that mission and in return, we’ve all benefited nicely.
- While we sometimes forget it, we are an interdependent team of professionals that are committed to each others success. While we do celebrate individual achievements from time to time, overall, building a successful company like Corevist is a team sport. We’re reminded of that every quarter when we each cash our respective profit sharing checks. No single individual could have done all that it takes to keep our existing clients happy and find and support the new ones that are fueling our sustained growth.
- Whether it’s on our daily standups, our weekly corporate “Moment of the Week” meetings, our regularly scheduled client Focus Groups, our quarterly profit sharing announcements or any number of impromptu skype, Google Hangout or Gotomeetings, we’re in a constant state of communications. We have to be. There is simply too much complexity, and too many inter-dependencies amongst us, all of which spans 8 time zones across the globe, not to be.
We may be virtual, but all of our clients know that we’re very real…and the great news is that so do our families and friends. :-)