On Monday, we asked followers on our Facebook page to answer this question: “How are you treated at work? Are you just another employee in the system – irrelevant, expendable, and just another cog on the wheel? Or are you valued as a human being with unique ideas and perspectives?”

We know that change is not effective (or truly possible) without considering the opinions and perspectives of all. We are so focused on ensuring everyone’s voice is heard at Gravity that we created a core philosophy where “everyone is the CEO”. We trust our team to do what they think is best for our clients, so it’s important that they feel empowered to make those decisions on a day-to-day basis.

This entrepreneurial culture has created an atmosphere where everyone loves coming to work because they have the autonomy to go beyond their job descriptions. When our team has the freedom to be creative and do what they love, they’re happier and can make a big impact on Gravity and our clients.

Employing the “everyone is the CEO” policy is one way we’ve made sure our team has been heard. However, we know that differs from organization to organization.

By implementing this philosophy, we find solutions to problems we didn’t even know exist. For instance, during a time when our Deployment Team was working with an infrastructure psychologist to find ways to triage problems more efficiently, our team members discovered a new way to eliminate problems before they occur when working on installs for our clients.

If we had used a traditional top-down hierarchy, our Deployment Team lead would have directed our new triage methodology and the voice of the other team members would be silenced. Once this type of mentality starts in a corporation and becomes just “the way we do business”, people will focus only on their day-to-day tasks without trying to think of new solutions for problems. This level of conditioning can spread like a cancer and infect the effectiveness of an entire corporation.

Personal stories of how it feels to be silenced by a company are everywhere. Below is an opinion from one of our team member’s about their personal experience working at corporations that don’t listen to their front-line employees:

I’ve worked for seven major corporations over the last 15 years. While corporations often state they listen to employee feedback, there is not proof in the pudding.

They say necessity is the mother of invention and that proverb was never more true than with the case of Bette Nesmith Graham. As a single mother working in the 50s, she worked for Texas Bank & Trust as a secretary, eventually making her way to executive secretary (the highest position open to women in the industry at that time).

As a secretary, she would type as a primary function. At the time, electric typewriters had no way of correcting mistakes, which were made frequently. Graham set out to invent something to fix the problem and invented liquid paper. She used her liquid paper for five years in secret. Higher ups in the corporation found out and advised her against using it. But it caught on. Eventually they sold liquid paper to Gillette for $47.5 million in 1979.

The part of this story that is interesting to me is that her bosses, instead of seeing what she had done and working with her on it, they ignored it. They discouraged it, thinking their way of doing things was the right way just because it had always been done that way.

There are countless examples of this. I have often felt unheard. Not because my opinion weren’t heard by previous employers, but because the corporation I worked with did not act as if I had even spoke. Saying you hear someone and actively listening are two very different things. Companies today need to realize that every single person on their team has invaluable uniqueness and their ideas might be the idea that changes the world.

When working as a grunt employee, I remember finding little changes that could be made that would drastically improve company-wide operations and efficiency. These changes were obvious to my colleagues and me. Little changes, quick changes, that would have huge impact. Yet, the executive leadership was unwilling to practice what they preached. They did not want to listen, whether through pride, arrogance, or some other driving factor.

Often the executives are too far removed from the day-to-day to see the small changes that can make a big impact. To me, that is one of the biggest problems in America’s corporate hierarchy – a lack of listening and respect for opinions regardless of title and tenure.



Categories: Be Your Own CEO, Management + Culture