But that’s all small stuff in what has truly been a wonderful 10 year consulting gig with Raving. I have met and made friendships with some remarkable people: clients, associates, business partners, Raving employees and even some competitors. I have gotten to call my own shots, and yes, make my own mistakes. I have been able to mine various veins of opportunity, some leading to strikes of ore, and yes, others no more than fool’s gold. And, above all, I have been able to try just about everything that seems like a good idea and might help my business.
I realize that your company may not be able to try all of the good ideas that I am about to share with you. Your organization may be more traditional, larger or more bureaucratic than mine. You may think that some of these ideas are, frankly, screwy, or maybe you have tried them with little success in the past.
Whatever your situation, rest assured that every one of the following aspects of the way we do business around here has been positive for our company, our employees, our culture and our success.
Motivating practicesI’ve spared you from the good-ideas-that-weren’t (I’ll tell you about the bumper stickers for charity one day), so allow me to share some Raving business practices that you should consider:
Choosing your own title:Every Raving employee gets to choose their own title. And yes, we have one president/chief strategist, four vice presidents, one director and two managers and a senior consultant or two, but so what? I even think that this policy provides a little extra motivation (to live up to a lofty title) for some already very motivated people.
Flexible scheduling:At Raving, every employee sets their own schedule. Yes, of course, there are some basic parameters, but we have several employees that work four 10 hour days, others that routinely schedule pockets of family days or weeks and one who comes and goes as she feels the need (OK, she’s my wife!).
Benefits that matter and are employee driven: We have some standard benefits at Raving (health insurance, retirement plan with company matching funds, Holiday bonus and end-of-the-year party, etc.) that our growth and success has allowed us to provide. We have added them as our employees have given us guidance as to their importance, and of course, as we have been able to afford them.
Surprise perks:Our end-of-the-year bonuses and retirement plan started as surprise perks but then became a standard part of the benefit package. I think it is important, where possible, to share our company’s generosity in a meaningful and spontaneous way. So, last year, all of our employees went on a Raving cruise to Mexico (with pay); this year, we closed the office from Christmas to New Year’s (with pay); and our latest surprise perk was a wellness benefit of up to 6 percent of employees’ annual salary bonus for those reaching individual weight loss targets.
Honest recruitment:Raving is a small company that doesn’t often need to recruit new employees. But when we do, we will write ads of 600 to 800 words in various media, telling the prospective employee exactly what they can expect at Raving and exactly what we are looking for from the new hire. We gush about the stuff we’re proud of, and talk straight about what the job really is - the good, the bad and the please don’t waste our time if you don’t have the requisite skills we are seeking. The result so far? Every time we recruit for a new Raving employee, we get 80 to 120 applications and usually a couple of handfuls of great people worth an interview. I think there is real value for you and your company in doing something similar.
A culture of nice people, who if left to do the right thing, usually will: It is important that I am very honest about his. As a company owner from a bureaucratic background, it is hard for me to stay out of my capable employees’ business and let them take their own ball and run with it. To let them make their own mistakes. To let them feel the pride of ownership. To let them have a say in how we should do things around here. But I try, I truly do. Because it is important.
And if work is to really matter to my employees, or to yours, and if we really care about creating an environment where employees will give us their discretionary effort every day rather than withhold it, you may not need my Raving grab bag of business practices that I have shared.
But I know you need something. Might as well get to work on it.