Try to bring your team into the mix on how to improve culture. You want their input to help you steer the ship, and you want their buy-in when you make changes. Asking team members to propose suggestions on how to make work more fun or less stressful accomplishes both these tasks. You could combine this with the previous point about prioritization by setting aside time either in regular team meetings or by scheduling separate culture meetings to discuss ideas. You can also send out surveys to your team and keep feedback anonymous, so they feel more comfortable making suggestions and corrections. Although, don’t rely on surveys alone—many people don’t feel surveys are anonymous when answering. And if you have a small enough team, it’s overkill anyway.
Pro tip: bring your team members in on hiring discussions. When you have a candidate, make sure important people meet them before bringing them on board. A wrong hire can cause problems with the company culture, so it’s worth getting your team to join in before making an offer.
Help team members reach their goals, not yours
Everyone has career goals. Make sure to ask your employees what they are and try to help them meet them. And crucially, don’t assume what their goals are or judge them based on their goals. We’re pointing this out for good reason. If you started an MSP or you’re in management, it’s not uncommon to be a type-A driven person. You may be in the place in your life where you work 60 hours per week to grow a company and assume others want to do the same to get a promotion, but many people have simpler goals. Some people may really want to learn a new technology. Still others may want to come in, do their jobs, and go home. In the business world, these type-B people can sometimes either be overlooked or seen as less important; but often, they’re dependable workers who keep friction to a minimum. It’s good to have a mix of both types.
In fact, your company should be like an orchestra. Some want to be out front playing solos and others want to sit back and play the rhythm that holds it all together. But in total, they make good music. So remember to support your employees whatever their goals—it takes multiple people to make it all work.
IT can get boring and repetitive. You get a ticket, you solve it, and then you’re done. This absolutely leads to drudgery and, ultimately, burnout. Burnout doesn’t just lead to people needing to take long breaks—they can become less productive, less engaged, and less effective. So, one of the best things you can do is to reward people with more interesting assignments from time to time. If they’re just answering helpdesk tickets, have them do a separate project they’re interested in—whether that’s investigating and implementing a new technology for your company, spending time on a course or certification, or going to an event. Educational opportunities like giving them time to take a course online on the clock can not only give employees a good change of pace, but can also benefit your company by having them bring new skills to the mix.
Give employees the benefit of the doubt
This is more about management style than company culture, but they tend to overlap. Try to create an open atmosphere with your employees so they feel comfortable being transparent about issues that arise. Most employees have good intentions, so if a problem arises with their work, try to understand them before you offer solutions. We mentioned burnout earlier. Let’s say you have an employee whose work seems to be consistently slipping, even if they were a top performer before. Try to approach them as a helpful person first by seeing if they’re feeling stretched thin. Even better, ask them an open-ended question like, “I’ve noticed that some of your SLA times have started to slow down. Is everything OK? Can I help in any way?” This lets them answer and allows you to become helpful (and often turn around an employee going in the wrong direction). It’s possible they could be working extra hours and simply need a few days off to recharge their batteries.
Be proud of your work
Good employees stay at good companies. While some will eventually leave if their goals don’t align with your organization, if you build a good company culture, you’ll keep employees around for a much longer time. This not only makes your business more effective, but it also can truly help your bottom line.
As we mentioned in the piece, one way to build a good company culture involves rewarding employees with educational opportunities to help them grow their career. SolarWinds MSP offers multiple educational opportunities for MSP Partners. For starters, you can get on-demand training on multiple topics including management, sales, and marketing by visiting success.solarwindsmsp.com and clicking the MSP Institute link. Additionally, our Head Nerds offer regular trainings on topics including security, backup, automation, and efficiency. You can learn more by viewing the boot camp schedule here.