The proof is in the stats. Millennials value company culture more than any other generation that’s come before them. In fact, according to Forbes, on average, millennials would be willing to give up $7,600 in salary every year to work at a job that provided a better environment for them. At We Are Rosie, our culture is built around systemic trust. We have a core belief that people have the best chance of success when they are treated with dignity and respect, and that comes along with trust. We want a team that can confidently demonstrate self-motivation, personal responsibility, and confidence.
My goal as a founder was to create a more human-centric approach to work and to build a community that reflects the company’s core values. My diverse childhood experiences as the child of a refugee have made me truly aware of what it is like to be overlooked, underestimated, and marginalized. This inspired me to want to cultivate a professional experience for my team where they are seen and appreciated as whole human beings.
Trust can be tricky for all leaders but particularly challenging for founders. I’ve used the analogy more than once that We Are Rosie is my third child. As a leader, it’s important to find the balance between seeing your vision through to fruition (helping your baby become a productive member of society) and identifying the friction points where you (and your baby) are better served by allowing others to take the reigns.
Ever heard the phrase by Steve Jobs that says, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” This is the crux of trust and it’s one of the many reasons we are so tedious in our hiring process for both our core employees and the incredible freelance consultants we deploy into large organizations. I actually believe that trust can, many times, be more important than experience when making a new hire. When you establish trust during an employee screening process, you are better able to create an environment for this person to thrive within your organization. You are also creating an opportunity for you to be the best leader you can be by avoiding the pitfalls that come along with mistrust.
As we move into an era where distributed and remote teams are the new norm, trust, or lack thereof, can make or break your team’s ability to achieve. When employees feel heard and respected, they will deliver their best work. I want people to be seen. I want people to know how much we appreciate the unique treasures they bring to our business. I want them to take ownership of their work and time. I want to support individuals as they recognize that there is a better way for work to happen.
Through my experience starting and growing a business, I’ve found six concrete action items that create a culture of systematic trust.
1. Embrace the Model You Serve
In addition to helping our clients discover better talent solutions, we also tap into our dynamic community of consultants. We turn our client’s needs into possibilities through a fresh perspective and expertise. Our core team is small, but our power, by way of the We Are Rosie community, is mighty.
If you’re unwilling to use the product or service you’re providing to your clients, you are missing out on truly understanding the pain points that your clients experience and how to speak directly to them with solutions.
2. People First
Within the advertising industry (and many others if we’re honest), the focus remains on the product or service, not the people producing the work. We’re humanizing the way we do advertising by keeping our people first. Time is precious, and people want to work in a way that makes sense for their lives. The work comes and goes. It will always be constant. The people are what makes it magic.
3. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Our work moves fast and quickly. I set the example for my team to let go of the small things, which keeps us focused on building and collaborating together. When problems arise, we address them quickly, learn the lesson, and forget the details.
Most people start businesses so they have more control over their lives. It’s all for nothing if you are miserably trapped within your company. If you aren’t having fun, you might want to reconsider your perspective. A small trick I’ve learned is that any time I catch myself saying or thinking “I have to” do something, I reframe it to “I get to” do this thing. That small mental shift takes me from a place of complaining to a place of gratitude.
4. Honesty Is the Best Policy
Embracing difficult conversations fosters an environment of trust. Being truthful about strengths and weaknesses keeps everyone clear on the best way to approach the work. If you’re not being honest about your perspective, your energy will reflect that to all of those around you. Show up every day in your truth, and everyone around you will do the same.
It sounds cliché, but communication is vital. We achieve all of our goals through simple, clear, and timely communication, both internally and externally. No jargon allowed. Furthermore, we hold ourselves accountable to our timelines, our words, and our shared values. There is no blame game. We own it, address it, and move forward. It’s a powerful, crazy concept that also works in all relationships.
6. Be Candid in the Hiring Process
When hiring great people, you must be honest about expectations. This is especially true with consultants that have other client responsibilities and time commitments outside of your business. This is actually one of the best benefits of working with consultants. There’s no need for the fake mask that tells you, “I can do it all because you’ve asked me to.” There’s no reason for the fluff, so don’t add any. Speak candidly about what’s expected and be open to hearing what’s expected from you. This process builds a tremendous foundation for trust.
When you establish trust during an employee screening process, you are better able to create an environment for this person to thrive within your organization. You are also creating an opportunity for you to be the best leader you can be by avoiding the pitfalls that come along with mistrust.
About the Author: Stephanie Nadi Olson founded We Are Rosie from a genuine realization of what it feels like to “not belong.” As a young mother with a career and also as a daughter of an immigrant parent of color, she knew what it felt like to be overlooked and marginalized. Because of this, she wanted to create a home and opportunity for people who often feel discounted. We Are Rosie is an extension of the work she has done with refugees her entire life and her soul’s calling to create a better way to do business. Stephanie has worked closely with big brands and major tech companies her entire career, so she has a unique 360 view of industry practices and the need for transformation.
This story was originally published on August 8, 2019, and has since been updated.