In a highly competitive job market and with employees increasingly wanting to work in a place that resonates with their values, we brought together two change-making technology leaders and two inspiring Googlers to discover how IT leaders can impact company culture in their businesses.
Netpremacy’s Director of Customer Success, Martin Russell, spoke to John Thompson, Group IT Director at Cazoo, Shaun Le Geyt, CIO at Parkinson’s UK, Alfred Biehler, Head of Innovation and Hannah Cassidy, Account Director at Google Cloud. Here are their key points from this thought-provoking panel session:
Continue to build on positive changes from the last two years.
Across the world, the IT team came to the forefront during the pandemic, facing a whole new raft of problems to solve and for many, a newly elevated position within the business. “Technology leaders now firmly have a seat at the table”, said Shaun Le Geyt, CIO at Parkinson’s UK. “We built a positive reputation for ourselves during the pandemic and we’ve established a great deal of trust and confidence. It’s up to us to keep maintaining these relationships and ensuring we get continued investment to support and level up our organisations”.
Nurture the potential in our teams.
All our panel agreed on the importance of seeing people as individuals with different skill sets and ways of communicating. Alfred Biehler discussed the possibility of missing potential if we overlook those that aren’t exactly like us. Leaders may inadvertently push our colleagues in the wrong direction if we don’t take the time to understand them, and their skills and goals. Diversity matters, and those businesses that don’t prioritise it will fall behind, according to research by Mckinsey. John Thompson added to this, emploring, “we need to bring humanity back into leadership model. If there was one piece of advice I would give tech leaders it would be to engage with their teams regularly. Make sure you’re speaking with them one-on-one- be that leader that makes time for people, understands their unique problems and raises them”.
Don’t underestimate early experiences for new starters.
John and Shaun discussed that the IT team often offers the first interaction a new employee has with the business when they start a role. Get it wrong, and a colleague might feel confused and isolated. Get it right, and you can showcase your business values and warmly welcome your new teammate. Both John and Shaun recommend having new starter equipment in stock in advance of people needing it if you know there will be a hardware delay, so they have everything they need to hit the ground running. Shaun added, “it might sound small, but even putting something like sweets into your new starter pack shows that there is a person that cares about their experience in the company and wants to welcome them.” Googler Hannah Cassidy explained the buddy system for new starters at Google. “Years on, buddies and their new starters stay in touch and have a great relationship.” In a highly competitive job market and increasing numbers of burnt-out staff, IT leaders thinking about how they can look after their new employees are those making a real business impact.
Embody company values through technology.
Our panel discussed two values they found important: equity and trust. When it comes to hybrid working, it’s important to remember that not everyone can be based from home, explained John from Cazoo. “We need to make sure everyone is treated fairly and recognise the great employees that make up the company (for example, Cazoo’s car mechanics). Everyone needs to be supported in the most relevant way for them.” When it comes to hybrid working, Shaun and John discussed various ways they are trying to make the experience as positive as possible no matter where colleagues are based. From ensuring meeting room cameras are at eye level to avoid people physically looking up or down at one another to using Google Companion Mode to interact in meetings, it’s about making sure people are interacting through a place of equality. As for trust, the panel discussed the possibility of giving employees a budget for their tech equipment rather than dictating what makes and models people will get. “A budget like this means people feel trusted and more personally responsible for maintaining their equipment,” explained Alfred from Google. “It shows that you as leaders trust your people to make good decisions.” However, like any important decision, it’s critical to consider the context of your team and how you will set boundaries for what you can support before considering a budget like this.
Understand that culture changes and requires ongoing care.
“We cannot predict what is around the corner,” said Alfred from Google. “We have to acknowledge the impact that a change in work location has on the culture we cultivated when before the pandemic”. Alfred explained that as leaders, we need to be ready to adapt and do what we can to nurture culture and appreciate its ever-evolving nature. Shaun added that “everything is about our people at the end of the day.” The more that leaders can put people at the heart of everything and understand their unique circumstances, the better chance we have to support and adapt processes and build a company culture that thrives.
- Appreciate individuality and nurture it.
- Don’t underestimate the impact the IT team has on company culture.
- Understand people first, then build your processes around them.
Interested in company culture and hybrid working? Join Martin Russell, Netpremacy’s Director of Customer Success at this year’s CIO Cloud Transformation Summit, where he’ll be discussing both. View the agenda and sign up here or view all our events.