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Management is 'Just Like Us'
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
US Weekly, the celebrity news and gossip magazine, features celebrities doing things “
Just Like Us!
". At some companies, individual contributors sit in cube farms while the management team rests ensconced on the periphery in offices. The “open-door policy” is trotted out as an example of how the company communicates with its employees. Occasionally, the CEO will hold an all-hands meeting to update everyone on the status of the company. It’s sometimes difficult to even know what questions to ask.
The Skybox floorplan and the places the management team has allocated for itself are the great equalizer. While Skybox has a second floor with some pretty plush offices, until the company outgrew it, everyone sat in the Engineering Bullpen. Significantly, the CEO, CTO, and all the VPs have desks in the same area with the rest of the team. The effect this has on the company culture is manifest. The management team can feel the pulse of the company constantly. The energy, accomplishments, and any frustrations are readily apparent in the feel of the room. Similarly, because the management team is so accessible, discussions about company direction and ideas occur much more readily. When Skybox did outgrow the bullpen, management didn’t move upstairs into the offices. Walls were torn down to create larger working areas and whole engineering teams moved into the newly created spaces. Management remained in the area with the largest number of people.
Skybox features three main methods of facilitating information flow. Each Monday, the company holds an all-company standup meeting to discuss the previous week’s accomplishments and the upcoming week’s challenges. The CEO introduces new employees, employee anniversaries are celebrated, and anyone can make personal announcements. Prior to the standup, the 5:5:5 e-mail goes out, detailing the 5 accomplishments, challenges, and goals for the past and coming week. Finally, each Friday Skybox either caters lunch or has a BBQ in the parking lot. When lunch is catered, it’s accompanied by a presentation. These presentations range from practice pitches to funding, a beginner’s guide to orbital mechanics, and discussions of the company’s go-to-market strategy. Importantly, these three events happen consistently. While not perfect, any one of the three things not happening is a rare enough occurrence that the team comments on it. This information keeps the company aligned and everyone pulling in the same direction.
Respect, transparency, and collaboration are three of Skybox’s company values. To a great extent, how the management team of any company upholds and embodies the company values determines whether they are words on a page or actually permeate the environment. Skybox’s management team demonstrates through its actions what is important and helps make Skybox a great place to work.
Posted by Matt Debski, Ground Software
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