Small business culture is (in my opinion) one of the most over-saturated news buckets around.
But I digress, because our culture as a shop is pretty damn cool.
Mistakes are encouraged, but repeating the same one is not. No questions are stupid (unless Grabell deems them so) and sometimes the “dumbest” questions are the ones that open up the best conversations, either for an individual learning moment or by addressing a problem no one had thought of. Having a weird sense of humor – seriously, the weirder, the better – and a knack for totally ignoring the line of propriety isn’t just a positive characteristic; it’s basically a requirement.
Setting our daily schedule, building websites, or designing infographics, aren’t exactly stellar ways to learn each other’s quirks, though. And learning quirks is really where we shine.
Every day, our team eats lunch together, at the big table in the middle of the studio. We crowd around, roll over chairs and stools, and make it work. Each day around 11:45, someone (definitely not me, nope) can be heard sounding the lunch cry, wrangling those who need to go buy lunch, and encouraging those who need the microwave to hurry up, please, I’m about to starve.
For about forty-five minutes, no business is allowed. Instead we describe our lunches to each other, talk about how kids are doing, weekend plans, weddings, haircuts, movie trivia – nothing is off limits (no, really). We have inside jokes, and stories we can tell to fondly embarrass one another, and we have the ability to go beyond stilted work talk with coworkers.
By spending time together beyond meetings – whether it’s at the lunch table, at happy hour, or going to the movies – we’ve really gotten to know each other. Getting to know each other, and realizing our similarities and differences, has allowed our whole team to build trust. And when your team trusts each other, and feels a sense of comfort, you get more honest feedback, less forced dialogue between teams, and at the end of the day, much better work.