At Acceleration Partners (AP), my team and I have tried to foster a bottom-up culture in which teams feel empowered to take charge, drive company culture and help determine what kind of company AP is and will be.
In fact, one of our core company values is: "Own It."
A great example of how this works in practice emerged earlier this year, when one of our employees created a Slack channel that has noticeably impacted our company's culture and engagement.
That Slack channel is called #WhatMadeYourWeek.
The employee who started #WhatMadeYourWeek shared this simple note when she launched the channel:
Happy Friday!!! What made your week? Did your kid say their first word or score a goal in a soccer game? Did you go on your dream vacation? Did you sign up for a marathon? Complete a life-long goal? Big or small, share it with us! Pictures are not required but highly encouraged!
The first reply was from an employee who shared that she had been accepted to participate in the Boston Marathon.
From there, the posts kept coming, and the channel has been a key fixture in our culture ever since. It's now our most popular Slack channel.
Here's why it's working.
It's organic and authentic.
#WhatMadeYourWeek was not a top-down mandate; it was an idea that came from one of our employees. Participation was--and is--completely optional, and the content is user-generated.
What's even better is that the organic nature of the channel makes it both genuine and fun to read. It's become a great way to learn more about colleagues as well as to share in each other's joys and sorrows. That's the best way to build personal connections--reflecting another of the core values we have at AP: "Embrace Relationships."
#WhatMadeYourWeek encourages vulnerability and engagement.
Since the inception of the channel, employees have freely shared all sorts of insights into their lives and interests.
They share pet pictures, kid videos and stories about volunteer work. In recent weeks, the channel has featured posts about cheering for a favorite team that won the Stanley Cup, struggling with postpartum anxiety, and enjoying a heartwarming reunion with a former teacher. As for yours truly, I added a post about my daughter's graduation and my son's baseball team winning our town championship.
This channel has helped us build a sense of community throughout the company because it encourages employees to get to know each other in a way that's really not possible in more professionally focused channels. These personal touches, too often missing in our day-to-day interactions, cement the kinds of relationships we all rely on--at work as well as in our personal lives.
As several leadership gurus, including Patrick Lencioni, have noted, high-performing teams are built on trust, and trust requires vulnerability--revealing our true selves to others. That's why it's important to foster connections among your teams, just as it's important to come to work and be productive each day.
Arguably, what your team really needs to get to the next level is to know each other more outside of work.
So, it's worth asking your employees: #WhatMadeYourWeek?