Thriving at work is possible. At Asana, we've turned ourselves into guinea pigs in our own experiment of creating an ideal workplace--where employees thrive, support each other, and do their best work. I'm excited to share what we've found works, and hopefully it can inspire your team to find what works for you.
1. Clear mission. People do their best work when they know why their work matters and what they are striving to achieve. Make sure you have a clearly-defined mission statement, so everyone in your company is aligned towards the same ultimate goal.
2. Open arms. Start building camaraderie during the interview process--invite candidates to have lunch with the team, give them a full-tour of the office, and have them sign their offer letter in person, so they can be congratulated by their new team. When new hires feel like part of the team even before their first day, onboarding goes more smoothly and they can find their comfort zone faster.
3. Everyone fits. Hire people that share enthusiasm for your mission and company values, so you can create a cohesive culture that helps everyone thrive. In practice, this means looking at more than just talent and experience when hiring, and instead taking a whole-person approach to recruiting.
4. Empowerment. Distributing responsibility across everyone in your organization, rather than using a traditional top-down hierarchy, helps everyone thrive in their role. By empowering individual contributors to be ultimate decision makers in their areas of expertise, everyone feels like their work matters, no matter what "level" they are in the organization.
"Too much management blocks creativity and the ability of teammates to reach their potential, while a completely "flat" structure keeps people from growing as much as they could. A balanced approach gives people the freedom they need to contribute at their full potential, while also providing the support that helps them grow to become even more capable." -Dustin Moskovitz, "Goldilocks Management" on Medium
5. Shared experiences. People operate at their best when they feel at home with the people around them. Investing in shared experiences like company outings, sports teams, birthday celebrations, and learning lunches helps create a tightly-knit team.
6. Health. The ability to do your best work starts with energy and good health. Providing free healthy meals, yoga sessions in the office, and gym memberships are small expenses in the grand scheme of corporate budgets, but they can have huge impact.
7. Technology. Using modern communication technology (like Asana) allows teams to thrive by reducing soul-sucking work about work -- the endless emails, status meetings, and attempts to stay on the same page. When less time is spent on work about work, people have more time to do the real work that they're passionate about.
8. Clearly-defined goals. When expectations and milestones are transparent, it's easy to move forward each day and celebrate success when work is completed. Setting high-level team goals every few months and milestones each week gives clarity around what needs to get done and an understanding about how work aligns with company goals. With this amount of clarity, it's easy to complete the steps necessary to achieve your goals.
9. Finding flow. Having time to get in the zone, find flow, and be productive helps people make progress. "No Meeting Wednesdays" are an effective way to provide uninterrupted time each week, otherwise it's easy to forget to leave room in your schedule to get things done.
10. Gratitude. People remain excited about their work when they know they're appreciated. Find small ways to show gratitude within your organization--we use "hearts" on tasks in the Asana product, give real-time positive feedback, and recognize teammates for special contributions by passing around a company flag.
11. Breaking from routine. Doing something new recharges people, which makes it easier to thrive when you get back to a "normal" schedule. To strike a balance with the more structured time spent focused on achieving primary goals, give people time to work on things they don't normally do, learn something new, and do something totally outside their comfort zone. Try holding company-wide hackathons a few times a year or adding special themed weeks to your company schedule.
At Asana, our two top priorities are creating a product that helps humanity thrive and a culture that helps our teammates thrive. We hope your team can also put energy into creating a thriving workplace--the payoff far outweighs the effort. By helping your team thrive, you can do your best work in helping humanity thrive.
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