Company Culture in a Small Team
Rebecca Borough is an entrepreneur and founder of Knit Marketing in Los Angeles. She graduated from USC’s Master of Science in Social Entrepreneurship program and immediately set out to transform the lives of youth in Los Angeles through her cause-driven agency. Bourbon Fat recently visited Knit to look at their unique culture and guide the team through a design thinking challenge. The time we spent with Knit gave us a better understanding of how culture grows in young companies when there is so much to do and everyone has to chip in. As for what Knit took away, we invited the founder to share her own experience here. Enter Rebecca...
Recently we had the pleasure of welcoming Adam and Allen from Bourbon Fat to facilitate an employee experience workshop for our team, that they creatively retitled “Employee Experience Frappy Hour.” I run a digital marketing company called Knit Marketing, which employs teens and young adults, so Frappuccinos were more appropriate than cocktails (although the grownups from Knit and Bourbon Fat had a nice time debriefing over a cocktail at a later date).
We were founded in June 2016 and now are a team of 6, but even (and especially) for a new small company, these experiences are invaluable to planting our roots. We’re not facing huge team changes or layoffs, and have no need to call in emergency HR consultants for a corporate culture overhaul, but we’re laying the groundwork today to avoid people crises in the future. I wouldn’t have a company without my team, so focusing on our company culture has to come first, and I was excited for the opportunity to take a culture deep dive in our Frappy Hour!
Of course, I have my own perspective of our company, which is that it’s an amazing team, full of life and energy, and they make me excited to get out of bed and build my business every day! But I was curious to find out how my team felt; what were the things that I could do better as a leader, what do they want out of their jobs, what could be done differently, and how do I inspire creativity? I wondered, if I brought in outside voices to help create a safe space for conversation, would my staff feel more comfortable expressing themselves?
Bourbon Fat led us through several exercises including writing, drawing, prototyping, and acting, that allowed everyone on the team to openly share about their hopes, challenges, and preferences when it comes to work. Great insights came out, such as what we can do to structure our tasks differently, a better understanding of how each employee feels in his/her role, and some exciting ideas for future growth. After our workshop, Allen coached me on how to empower my team to meet expectations for quality work, while at the same time keeping things light, fun, and relational. We’ve already implemented a lot of what we learned from the Bourbon Fat Frappy Hour, and it has shown to be extremely helpful in our day-to-day operations.
Our company culture is vital and listening to my employees is key to building a successful business. If I only wanted my own opinions, I would be a freelancer. Life would be a lot easier, and I’d probably make a decent living building websites and managing social media accounts by myself, but the reality is that the team is valuable. Their thoughts, ideas, and input make Knit Marketing what it is, and learning to create a culture that empowers the people and fosters their innovations and personal growth is essential even for a small business like ours.