Robert Ellis Shares Leadership Strategies To Improve Your Company’s Culture
Recently I had the opportunity to interview Robert Ellis from Massage Tables Now,for the ongoing series: CEOs Share 5 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Culture!
Robert is the CEO of Massage Tables Now, an ecommerce store that sells high end massage tables and supplies for massage therapists. He has grown the company over the past 2 years from a small online shop to 7 figures in revenue. Robert is a contributor to Entrepreneur, where he frequently shares his insights on entrepreneurship and the challenges of running a successful online business.
Krish Chopra: What are the 3 most important values that your company’s culture is based on?
Robert Ellis: Our company culture is based on commitment to customer service, autonomy, and teamwork. Obviously we’re in business to make a profit. However, that isn’t the only reason the company exists. My mission is to build a company that does good for its customers and employees. Our customer are happy when we are focused on meeting their needs, and our employees are happy when they feel empowered because they are part of something bigger than any one individual.
Krish: Managing millennials can often be a polarizing topic. Can you elaborate on your advice for managing the “millennial mindset?”
Robert: Millennials want to grow in their careers, that’s why so many of them are constantly changing jobs. They don’t want to feel stagnant. In my experience, the key is to provide them with opportunities to take on more responsibility and grow with the company.
Krish: What are your “5 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Culture” and why.
· Recognize achievement Your employees want to feel appreciated for their work. Make sure to thank them and recognize their achievements. This will help foster a culture that encourages and motivates each team member. This can be as simple as a nice compliment or something more substantial such as a monetary bonus.
· Ask for Feedback One way to get honest feedback from employees is to poll them anonymously. You can provide them with an online survey. Google Forms is a simple tool that can be used to poll employees electronically. The key is to make sure they know their responses are private, this will elicit the most straightforward feedback that isn’t sugar coated. The best managers listen to their employees.
· Encourage imperfection While we want our employees to do the absolute best job possible, we encourage them to not be perfectionists. Our philosophy is that imperfect action is better than perfect inaction. It’s best to get started and make adjustments along the way because you can’t plan for all contingencies. This helps foster a happy and productive work environment because people are not afraid to make errors. View mistakes as part of the learning process.
· Offer Flexibility A happy employee is also a productive one. Give your employees freedom to explore new strategies and solutions. One option is to allow them with flexibility managing their hours. For example, you can allow them to start the work day earlier or later if they prefer.
· Group activities Organize team activities and outings outside of the office. Your team members should be able to interact and socialize outside of the formal work environments. It’s fun and creates team bonding.
Krish: Strong company culture is something that everyone likes to think they have but very few have it. Why do so many organizations struggle with creating strong, healthy work environments?
Robert: I think companies struggle with it because they fail to put in systems and place and make a primary focus. Most managers are so busy with their daily work, they forget to think long term and big picture. You have to prioritize company culture early because it’s something that is difficult to change once it has set in.
Krish: What is one mistake you see a young start-up founders make in their culture or leadership practices?
Robert:They tend to micromanage. Instead you want to empower employees by encouraging dissent and new ideas.
Krish: To add to the previous question, young CEOs often have a lot of pressure to perform and often wear many hats. What’s a simple time efficient strategy they can start doing today to improve their company’s culture?
Robert: Have a team gathering once a month. This could be as simple as happy hour, triva, or a basketball scrimmage. You want your employees to interact outside of the work environment.
Krish: Success leaves clues. What has been your biggest influence in your leadership strategy and company culture?
Robert: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek is a book that has had a big impact on my management style and how I have tried to shape our company culture. It is a fantastic resource for teaching you how to reach deep within yourself and harness the power of inspiration and innovation.
Krish: What advice do you have for employees that have bad bosses? How can they take control and improve a bad situation?
Robert: Leave and find a better company and opportunity. It’s a lot easier to surround yourself with the right people then it is to try to change a bad boss.
Krish: Okay, we made it! Last question — what’s one unique hack you or your company does that has enhanced your work culture?
Robert: We have a company mascot. It’s my pet dog, a mini-schnauzer named Wally. He often is at the company office. Our team loves having him around. It creates more of a family atmosphere.
A note to the readers: Improving company culture happens at any level in an organization. If you learned one thing in this interview, please share this with someone close to you.
A special thanks to Robert Ellis again!
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