This definition takes a noun that is often viewed as soft in the corporate world and turns it into action–the ultimate action of not just doing things, but “getting them done.”
I heard this phrase in an insightful exchange with Ric Pratte*, CEO and co-founder of AlignRevenue, a start-up which helps sales teams create collaborative conversations that are much more effective, and also take the place of boring sales presentations. I asked Ric for an interview after hearing him talk about his company in a way that demonstrated he wants to create a workplace where people can be themselves, fully.
I started our conversation by asking Ric how he came to believe that a supportive workplace is important to the success of an organization. He replied that he has heard CEOs talk about “people being the most important asset”, then act disrespectfully with their teams and treat them like machines, not human beings.
He wants to do it differently. I think he is.
When asked to elaborate, Ric talked about how asking people to “disappear their personal life when they come to work” is not healthy for the employees, or the company. If people feel comfortable unloading then they can let go of their issues and focus on the project at hand. Or if team members need to take care of other things and being at work is not a priority at the moment, Ric believes it’s important to let them take the time they need to handle them, then they are more focused, engaged, and loyal. I summarize this as respecting the whole person, not just the worker.
Turning the conversation to getting things done at work, especially solving problems, Ric shared how he endeavors to include all the appropriate people in figuring out how to best move forward. He believes that respectful interaction helps everyone to be more willing to work hard to be part of the solution, which also leads to working together really well.
Ric also believes that culture comes from the top and so embodies these beliefs in setting an example for his senior staff. One example of this is Ric’s practice of asking “what went well and what did not” before giving his own feedback. He’s found that others are often not aware of the outcomes as he sees them and both parties learn, and grow, from the questions and answers. (It’s so funny that we forget that we human beings almost always see things differently–asking questions like this is such a great way of using that difference in a beneficial manner.)
Walking around, listening, and working with people face to face are also important to Ric, “The things I learn every day when I am open to it–through chance conversations and inviting in discussion.” Another example of a definition that contributes to the success of the companies where Ric works: listening means being “open to it”, open to new ideas, difference, and therefore growth. Isn’t that why most of us are here, to grow?
As CEO he provides social time to help his team know one another in many ways. Encouraging all types of interaction invites people to share their whole self. He wants to see people succeed and realizes that each person does it differently, recognizing that the differences can help to create teams that are very strong through their diversity. One of the foundational ways he does this is to focus on safety–having it be safe to speak up, do things differently and even to fail (similar to another powerful CEO I interviewed).
Ric has found that his companies are more successful when he works to create an environment dissent and failure. Asking what he would say if there were significant dissent among his team, he responded that he would remind them that respecting the differences means respecting the different business ideas as well. He might say, “I know we want to end somewhere, get somewhere. How are we going to come to a decision?”
I like the phrase “come to a decision“, it evokes the idea of a decision being a journey, a process. Sometimes when we disagree it’s because we are not willing to take the time and energy it needs to fully hear the other person(s). This idea that a decision is a journey reminds us.
Thank YOU Ric, for this reminder and for making time to talk with me. I feel respected and honored, and hope the rest of our readers do to.
What makes you feel like bringing your whole self to work? What do you do to help others feel safe? How does this contribute to Joyful Work? Please share by commenting below!
* Mr. Pratte is a serial entrepreneur with many successes to his credit. See here for more information. I think it’s interesting that a person who’s interested in meaningful conversations is starting a company that supports them.