It was in February 2011 that I quit my job to blog for a living. (You can read the original announcement post here.)
For a few years I was writing here, full-time as an indie blogger and podcaster. And so, any of the choices I made about work hours, salary, time off, or projects were choices that, for the most part, only affected me.
But then, in January 2016 I hired my first employee. And last summer I hired my second employee. And that’s not to mention our amazing team of long-time contractors and contributors.
Needless to day, today, things are very different than they were back in 2011.
Now, when I make a decision about my company I have to think about how it impacts our team and our culture. (It’s not just me anymore. Thank goodness!)
When I make decisions about what projects we take on, what our company profit sharing looks like, the amount and type of time-off we allow, our team communication systems, and more, I have to think about this:
Is this a vote toward the type of work environment I want to have in 20 years?
Here’s the thing. It will never be easier to have an awesome work culture than it is right now.
Why should I be waiting for some sort of potential, future-state of my business before I can begin implementing the sorts of healthy work cultures that I want?
If I wait, then I run the risk of accidentally building a company culture that I don’t like. How awful would it be to look up 10 years from now and realize that I spent a decade building a business that is stressful and exhausting to work in?
The Two Types of Sustainability: Finances and People
Being sustainable in revenue is critical. We know that. But finances are not the only metric of sustainability.
There is also the sustainability of your team’s time and energy.
Is your company “human sustainable”?
If you were to look at the amount of work you are doing, and the pace at which you doing that work, would it be something you would still want to be doing in 20 years from now?
Anybody can talk about how they value a healthy work culture.
But culture is what you DO (not what you SAY).
Are the decisions and actions happening within your team right now in alignment with the values that are being spoken? Or are things crazy right now with the promise of change once XYZ milestone is reached?
As the folks at Basecamp would say, it doesn’t have to be crazy at work. And I agree.
Fear Brings the Craziness
In my experience, the craziness comes from fear. Fear that if things are calm then people are not being productive. Or a fear that without frenzied, emotionally-driven activity then there will be no revenue. Or a fear that without long hours the work won’t get done.
You can’t change your culture overnight (for good or for bad).
But you can make one small vote today about the sort of work environment you want to have in 20 years from now. And then, tomorrow, you can make another small vote… and another…
P.S. This goes for the culture you create other places as well. Such as your family, your personal finances, or your weekends. Are the choices you’re making in alignment with the values you profess?