Once you get into the real world, there comes an increased sense of responsibility in life and a lot of times, in any job that you start. You have to be up and at work at a certain time, dress a certain way, and quickly become a name and title on an organizational chart. These, like many others, are things put in place to add structure and accountability to companies and employees in order to produce better results.
While this type of strategy works for a lot of businesses, we have developed a different approach over the years which we like to call our Empowerment Culture. Here are 9 ways Pro Athlete, Inc. uses an Empowerment Culture to stand out from the crowd:
1. No Scripts For Our Customer Coaches
The last thing any customer wants to hear is, “Can you please hold while I ask my manager?” Because of this, we empower our Customer Coaches (more commonly known as representatives) to handle every situation the best way they see fit. While we do have guidelines, we do not have strict rules or scripts for them to follow. We want our coaches to connect with each and every customer. If a coach needs to spend 45 minutes on the phone helping a customer and 30 minutes of that call is spent talking about the weather in Florida, that’s alright by us. We trust our coaches and by doing so we create a better experience for our customers.
2. Unlimited Paid Time Off
A few years back we implemented unlimited paid time off for our salaried employees. While this might seem like a bold move to most, for us it was a pretty simple decision. We thought back to how many times an employee had asked to leave early, take the day off for an appointment or go on vacation, and we couldn’t think of one time that we had said no. Instead of making our employees feel nervous or uncomfortable asking for time off, we decided to empower them to take whatever time they felt they needed. As long as employees produce the results that are expected, we don’t care about the work!
3. Enrichment Time
Our salaried employees have always been given the freedom to use our facilities during normal work hours. For years we wanted to allow our hourly employees that same freedom, but it was difficult because our hourly employees normally need to be physically present in their departments to get their jobs done. Last year, however, we decided that we could find a way to staff accordingly in order to allow each hourly employee 40 minutes of paid enrichment time a day. With those 40 minutes, they are not only allowed, but encouraged, to use the gym, take a nap, or get a pedicure.
4. Create Your Own Path
You won’t find a big, formal organizational chart here. We are a flat organization. We hate the idea of showing employees growth in the form of a chart and fancy titles. We don’t ever want to restrict someone to the boxes that are on some silly chart, no matter what the business coaches say. At Pro Athlete, we let employees create their own paths. We believe that you can grow in many ways outside of the traditional organizational chart. A lot of people in our organization created new positions that we had never had before and now they are pushing the needle forward for us! Just imagine if we had told them that they had to wait 5 years, get a certificate, (insert other hoops to jump here). When you empower people, great things will happen to them and the company!
5. No Dress Code
If you have ever been to our office, you know we are extremely relaxed with our dress code; gym shorts and a hoodie is the norm. We don’t do a lot of face-to-face interaction with our customers, but even if we did, our approach to attire would stay the same. Our employees spend 40+ hours a week here and we want them to be comfortable (not dread having to put on an uncomfortable suit every day). By ditching the dress code, we allow our employees to be themselves, be more relaxed and focus more on their responsibilities. Pro Tip: our relaxed dress code (or lack thereof) doesn’t just apply to our employees- it includes our guests, too. Next time you visit, lose the business clothes and show up in your gym gear! You might just be asked to join in on a friendly game of volleyball!
6. Work From Wherever
Certain positions in our company could really get done from anywhere that has an internet connection. Because of this, we have started allowing our employees to work from home (or anywhere they choose) if they prefer. Even though employees have this option, most still choose to come in (probably for the awesome food our chef prepares daily).
7. Team Hiring
You have spent years creating this awesome culture with awesome people and now it's time to hire someone for one of your open positions. Piece of cake right? Not so fast! One person can ruin the culture in minutes. Therefore, it’s important to get input from those who have helped cultivate the culture. We allow members of each team to be involved with the hiring of people for their department. If you are going to be working with a new person, wouldn’t it be nice if you had some say in the decision?
8. Peer Reviews
It feels wrong to give any one person the ultimate say over another individual. We feel that it should be, instead, a team effort. Because of this, we do peer reviews for each employee. Who better to rate your performance than your teammates? If you empower the team to help hire their coworkers, it only makes sense to empower them to review their work and culture fit. The ultimate goal is that any issues or opportunities for improvement are handled by the team members which is what ultimate team accountability truly looks like. It’s never easy to achieve that (and we’re still working on it, too) but it’s important to keep grinding away until you do.
9. Almost Forgot, It’s a Core Value…
Since 2009 we have had a list of Core Values for our company. Two of those values, “create a fun and trusted work environment” and “focus on results, not work”, really show the foundation for what we have recently called our Empowerment Culture. Before we made up this thing called an Empowerment Culture, we were following these two Core Values. It’s crazy how basing your business on a set of unquestioned values can turn into new ways to manage and grow your business and your people. We’ve really been an Empowerment Culture for years, but we are just now finding a way to acknowledge and celebrate it together as a company.
What do you think of our Empowerment Culture? Is there an idea we’ve implemented that you like? Let us know in the comments.