On Professionalism and Ever-Shaping Culture

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I shared this post with our iThemes/WebDesign.com team today …. and as always I want to share things I encounter in the adventures of being an entrepreneur, manager, and leader. As a side note, we’ve tried to blend and balance professionalism with a fun atmosphere. And we’re still working on it as a 1.5 year old startup.

Here it is as posted in our intranet (BaseCamp) …

I’m writing this post to clarify and define some things about our office culture. We’re a young company and as such are going through a lot of growing pains. Posts like these are necessary to help us define and refine what and how we do things.

So, before I go on, let me first say …. We’re all adults here. We go from the assumption that everybody here is an adult and should act like an adult … and likewise should be treated like one too.

But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t clarify and teach our values about work. So part of our process is on-going teaching about what it means to be a professional — to be a valued team member and employee.

These were written not because of any one instance or person, but because we’re learning and growing together and as such, always need to stay focused on our core goals as a business.

So here are some values to keep in mind as a professional and team member here:

  • Have fun, but with boundaries — we want to create a fun work environment, one where you will enjoy coming to work, know that you are an important part of the team and are happy to be here. We like to laugh and smile and value those qualities here. That’s a good thing. But we need to always be careful not to go too far and cross important boundaries. The other principles here should help you with those boundaries. Particularly, the next one ….
  • Be productive — the bottomline is: get your work done. Don’t let clients or your fellow team members down by dropping the ball. The work we do pays the bills, and your salary.
  • Be on time — respect the office hours set by the company; if you’re going to be late or gone, tell someone, but being late is unprofessional and has negative consequences for you and our team
  • Be focused — while you’re at work, be focused on your work. Obviously there are times when life can cause distractions. If there is an issue causing problems with your focus, please let us know so we can work with you on it.
  • Meet deadlines — do everything in your power to ensure you meet deadlines as our business depends on it — clients want their projects delivered on time, so do sales people who get asked where a project is, and ultimately, if we don’t deliver, we don’t get paid. Sometimes this means working late, coming in early. We’re accountable to each other and our clients.
  • Dress accordingly — yes, we want to foster a relaxed and fun environment as long as it’s not at the expense of getting projects and tasks done, or makes your fellow team members uncomfortable in any way
  • Communicate well — communication is a never-ending skill that needs constant refinement. Everybody communicates differently. Confusion crops up because of wrong perceptions and mis-communication. Make it a priority to continually hone your skills with your team members and clients. Most problems can be remedied by simple and effective communication.

Any questions, suggestions, please let me know!


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2 thoughts on “On Professionalism and Ever-Shaping Culture”

  1. Cory, awesome job and well written. Pieces like that can be very delicate because you are trying to communicate a message that is in everyone’s best interest without pointing fingers or hurting any egos. I’m going to save this and refer to it when needed in the future, I pretty sure I’ll need your eloquence for reference when writing similar notes in the future. Awesome.

  2. Thanks, Trace … it’s something I’ve thought a lot about both as an employee and manager. They are naturally an extension of my personal values infused into the company.

    Appreciate the kind words!


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