Keeping employees in the loop requires nurturing an environment where communication is open and free-flowing and one of the ways we do that at Content Insights is by collectively participating in an activity many of us are particularly (if not secretly) fond of – and that’s showing off.
Indeed, a proper show-off gives us a chance to learn about each other and from each other. Like most organizations, we’re comprised of a collection of experts from different fields, but it’s entirely possible for those experts to go under-appreciated outside their own specialty and departments. When you’re surrounded by such a wealth of knowledge, experience and – even occasionally – the odd eccentricity, why not share it about the place? It’s a simple idea that gives us our competitive edge and keeps individuals and teams feeling recognized and valued.
You see, wielding knowledge is like baking a cake. We can all do it since we’ve all got access to the ingredients – information – yet how we choose to combine them is what differentiates us from one another. Each of us knows how to follow our own recipes, but when it comes to working in teams, it is vital that the cookbooks are diligently passed around.
The noble purpose of showing off
When I was assigned to write about this peculiar team activity, the first person I approached to get some answers was Alex, our Head of People Operations. “When I started working for CI in May 2017,” she told me, “I realized during my routine 1-on-1 meetings that our company had indeed suffered from there being insufficient communication between the teams. It was evident that not everyone was able to fully grasp how their contribution affected overall business processes.”
So to tackle the issue, she introduced ‘Friday show-off’ – an opportunity for our teams to demonstrate their skills, share success stories, or impart some wisdom for others to watch and, more importantly, learn from.
“I can’t wait for Friday show-offs,” stated Katarina, our Office Manager and the Mother of Finances, “because every presentation brings something new and unexpected to the table. Based on everyone’s reactions so far, these meetings can do wonders for flaring-up that light bulb above the head.” And I couldn’t agree more, seeing as I’ve witnessed a lot of office environments that weren’t equipped or willing to harness the full potential of their employees. To find I’ve parachuted into a territory where employee recognition is nurtured and team relations are purposefully sustained in a way that doesn’t feel invasive or chock-full of bull, is really, really refreshing.
What exactly is “Friday show-off”?
In our calendar, every last Friday of each month is reserved for a particular all-hands-on-deck meeting during which individuals or teams brave a familiar audience by sharing some insightful know-how. Now a two-year-old tradition, this little get-together has been remarkably useful in helping people understand how each unit functions – and thus how the Content Insights machine operates as a whole.
So far, there have been many informative and entertaining presentations. They ranged from our data engineering team explaining to non-coders how our Event Handler made the CPI v3 pipeline more effective (unexpectedly hilarious), to how to take three equal sections of hair and then – heroically – fold one into the others to make the perfect braid (deadly serious) – that, courtesy of Sasha, our cheeky visual designer.
(Whoever picked up the Katherine Ryan reference, gets a beer from me!)
When I had a chat with Mia, our Content Marketing Specialist, on this matter, she added: ”with Friday show-off, you manage to close the gap between the teams and create an atmosphere that is less separatist and more amicable. For instance, the Supreme Leader of our Marketing Gulag, Goran, and I presented the perks of Ahrefs to other teams with the intention of explaining that even if the content we create seems random, it isn’t. As a result of our presentation, our colleagues got familiar with the tools we use and how strategic content can benefit our business.”
Communication is, after all, a means of survival
Unless anyone plans on going full Bear-Grylls-mode sometime in the near future, the fact remains that we all need to interact to get by as a species.
Huddling up in groups is, after all, a survival instinct – and the better we get at communicating with one another, the more successful we are in the ‘staying alive’ department. Yet unlike ants or bees, through cooperation, we’ve also got very resourceful at solving more complex problems, which ultimately led us to achieve the impossible, like sending people to the Moon or the bottom of the deepest underwater trenches. To the best of our knowledge, there hasn’t been a bee on a lunar expedition yet. Perhaps they need a Friday Show-off…
If you translate this state of affairs into startups, fostering a culture that promotes knowledge sharing can do wonders for their longevity. A steady flow of information among and between teams plays a substantial role in filling communication gaps, stimulating creativity, encouraging employee input, retaining top talents, and building accountability.
Of course, this is easier said than done. We’re under no illusions that getting people to publicly share information is a simple task. We all have different personalities, levels of self-esteem and professional backgrounds. In fact, when people are required to teach someone something, if it’s not done properly it can be interpreted as more of a punishment than an actual benefit for the collective. Most of us have, at one time or another, sat through team-building exercises that do about as much to increase productivity and morale as a legless ant can do to feed the colony.
So we suggest you keep things light-hearted with a touch of humor to break the ice. Try showing-off a little, flex those guns! Let people know what it is that you do best. After all, if our data engineering team can miraculously make coding seem accessible, anything’s possible.