Here at gap intelligence, we’ve always been known as a “high five culture” that strives to continuously create meaningful experiences for those of us who work here, but one thing that you may not know is that we’re also a fist bump culture. On most mornings, you can count on our president Gary making the rounds through the office to bump knuckles with each individual gapper and welcome him or her to the workday. And while this may seem like a simple gesture, for the president of the company to make it part of his daily routine to fist bump and engage in small talk with every employee actually speaks volumes to the level of acknowledgement senior management has for us, and accessibility we have to them, here at gap.
A lot of companies have managers who adopt some sort of “open door” policy, wherein employees are encouraged to feel comfortable approaching their higher-ups to air any issues or concerns they might have. Don’t get me wrong, gap intelligence most definitely has the same policy, but here we take it several steps further. After all, one of our core company values is to always be transparent and communicate like hell, so just like Gary’s fist bumps, we make it part of our regular routine. That said, here are some examples of what makes our company’s transparent flow of communication so unique, yet so effective.
Here comes the kick…
Early each calendar year, the gap team assembles at an offsite location for its annual kickoff meeting. Throughout the course of the day, management outlines the initiatives, strategies, goals, and challenges we’ll be focusing on as a company over the next year. What’s really awesome about the kickoff is the fact that upper management dedicates a whole day towards sharing information with employees and discussing how it will impact us over the next twelve months.
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Right off the bat to start the new year, we are already given a clear understanding of the company’s focus, rather than just being blindsided by closed-door boardroom decisions later on. Not only does the kickoff meeting demonstrate to us gappers that management is being transparent with us from the get-go, but it also sets the tone for the year and gets us all on the same page so we can prepare to kick major butt without worrying about any unforeseen surprises along the way. And honestly, at times it almost feels like a pep rally because we get so fired-up about what’s in store over the coming year. Oh, and there are always beers afterwards too, which obviously helps.
Hear ye, hear ye!
Another annual tradition at gap is our town hall meeting, a midyear gathering during which senior management first provides us with a brief update on how the company is doing so far in terms of the year’s goals and initiatives, but then leaves the rest of the session entirely open for Q&A. Management fields various questions from gappers and answers each one as openly and honestly as possible, and pretty much everything is fair game. Of course, some questions are easier to ask in front of a room full of colleagues than others, so management takes steps to ensure nobody feels discouraged from asking what’s important to them by giving us an opportunity to submit written questions anonymously into a drop box prior to the town hall.
The types of questions asked and answered at the meeting vary dramatically each year, and can range anywhere from serous policy and procedural matters to whether we can bring dogs to the office. The point here though is that management genuinely wants to hear from us, not only so they have an opportunity to provide clarity and transparency to their employees, but also because they truly value our concerns, interests, and ideas, and how they can help make gap intelligence an even better place to work. And hey, no matter what the question, it never hurts to ask… At this year’s town hall, someone anonymously asked if we could get a NutriBullet for the office kitchen, and a couple weeks later there it was.
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Meet, greet… and eat
Occurring on a more regular basis at gap intelligence are our monthly company meetings. On the first Wednesday of every month, you can count on two things happening here at gap: 1) several of us will give-in to the temptation of WAY too many donuts (and then probably give-in again later that day), and 2) tons of information will be shared with gap employees. Our monthly meetings are designed to provide everyone who works here with informative updates and announcements on everything from company financials to upcoming events to new employee introductions to anything else of noteworthy importance since four weeks prior.
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And some may think that holding a full-scale company meeting every single month might be overkill, but you’d be really surprised how much new material we cover in the span of an hour each month! Furthermore, by designating a morning each month strictly for information-sharing, management again conveys the message to us gappers that transparency and communication flow are of utmost importance to the company and our success, and that the more we know, the more invested we all are in each other.
If you’re happy and you know it, fill this out!
Last but not least, and also our most recently-adopted method of gauging gapper satisfaction and gathering feedback and input, is the monthly “are you happy?” survey. This email-based survey was originally introduced several months ago, and included a simple yes or no question (you guessed it, “are you happy?”), as well as a follow-up “if no, tell us what we need to change or stop doing” one. Since then, it has undergone a slight metamorphosis. Now, the survey includes the same two questions, but also an additional “if yes, tell us what we can do even better!” And since the survey is completely anonymous, there’s also an optional field where you can submit your name so that management can follow-up with you personally.
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I’ll admit it, when the survey was first introduced I thought it was a little strange and even somewhat awkward. I mean, “are you happy?” can be an uncomfortable question to hear from an employer, you know? But now, the survey has actually become one of the most popular ways for gappers to communicate directly with management, and for them to learn from us. After the survey is conducted each month, the management team meets to discuss the results of the survey, specifically the “if yes” and “if no” responses, and then strategizes ways to make company improvements based on those responses. Updates stemming from the survey results are also shared with us at each monthly company meeting, so we know that the input we provide in the survey is actually making a difference.
We’ve already seen a lot of positive results come from the fairly recent implementation of the “are you happy?” survey, and I think most gappers would agree that the optionally-anonymous nature of it makes it a lot easier for us to complete each month. More than anything though, it’s really cool to know that management is constantly encouraging us to be honest in our thoughts about the company, whether positive or negative, so that they can continuously strive to make gap a better place for all of us to work. They understand and embrace the fact that employee satisfaction is rooted in employees.
So as you can see, although it’s just one of gap intelligence’s five core values, transparency is a big deal around here. And while it can be one of the most uncomfortable behaviors to practice simply due to its honest nature, transparency is also one of the most important for the exact same reason. Without honest, two-way communication flow, there’s no way of learning how we can improve as a company and as colleagues. So although the act of being transparent can be a bit unnerving at times, gap management has set a standard by which we as employees can feel comfortable sharing our thoughts and ideas. Not only are they completely approachable and accessible, but they’ve provided us with several tools and opportunities for sharing information with one another on a regular basis, regardless of how public or private we choose to be in doing so. It may seem like common sense to spout about the importance of communication in the workplace, but it really does make all the difference in the world to us as a company, and it’s just another thing that makes gap such an awesome place to work.
I’ll fist bump to that.