I have the pleasure of working with companies from most industries. Technology companies are providing a blueprint that a lot of other companies can learn from. Before I run off non tech company readers I’ll start by saying there are plenty of companies in other industries doing great things. And, the love and press for technology companies can sometimes seem a bit much. Outsiders often perceive there to be a lot of back slapping going on from within this sector in Indy. But, you know what? It’s for good reason. I’m not saying you immediately need to buy ping-pong tables and kegerators for your office. But you shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the phenomenal things these companies are doing. Here are 3 lessons you can learn from technology companies in Indianapolis:
1. Culture Matters: “Culture” is a buzz word you might be sick of hearing. It has been overused. But, it is important. Especially with current market conditions where it is highly competitive for top talent. ExactTarget/Salesforce is the most common example. They built a brand. They marketed it. It became infectious. They are also an extreme and expensive example. You don’t have to take it that far. But you need to recognize the importance. Tech companies are showing that you can offer employees more than just a paycheck. Employees can enjoy coming to work. They can enjoy it and still be productive. Shockingly, the company can even still make money (although, sometimes not a profit?!). This does not just apply to millennials. Enjoying work doesn’t have to mean cool offices and unlimited vacation policies. It means feeling part of something. Being valued and respected. Maybe providing some flexibility and getting away from some of the older school, rigid policies.
2. Intentional & Thoughtful Hiring Process: Technology companies have a hiring and recruiting strategy and recognize that good talent has options. Plenty of old school mentality still exists where employers think “We’re awesome, they should want to work here. If they don’t, we don’t want them”. To a certain extent, that is correct. You only want to hire people who want to work for you. But guess what? There are a lot of awesome companies. You still need a strategy and to sell your company to potential candidates. Don’t expect them to think you are great immediately upon getting an interview. They are interviewing you too. You need to have a strategy that all hiring managers utilize and buy into. You need to have a specific process, consistent message from all employees and be respectful and appreciative of a candidate’s time. You also need to sell your company. No, “selling” doesn’t mean lie. Be honest and highlight the reasons someone would want to work there. By highlighting why someone would want to work there you also eliminate those that won’t be a good culture fit. For example, I have certain clients with environments that are much more demanding than others. The right individuals thrive in these environments and get rewarded for it. The wrong person will get eaten up.
3. Comradery and Skill Building Within the Community: Why are tech/software companies always in the press? Because they are constantly doing awesome things. They have the Mira Awards (Mira Awards) to recognize top tech companies and talent in the state of Indiana. Entrepreneurs have launched programs such as Eleven Fifty Academy (Eleven Fifty Academy) and The Iron Yard (The Iron Yard…although not originally Indy based) to teach specific technical skills. This all helps attract more companies to the area, which increases need for talent, which local entrepreneurs are addressing. See the virtuous cycle here? It seems to me that most local tech companies believe they are better off when their industry and city is thriving. Successful entrepreneurs launch new companies, invest in other local businesses and help with start-ups. Local technology companies recognize and support their counterparts. From the outside it can seem a bit incestuous. But the industry is thriving because of all of this. Frankly, it is helping our city too.
Not everyone loves working for a tech company. There are tech companies that take the fun environment too far. But that’s not really the point. I’m not saying be exactly like them. I’m suggesting you take note. Apply some of the fundamental ideas to your business. Half the battle is recognizing all of this is important. It’s not a fad and it’s not a “millennial thing”. A bad culture and environment can snowball on a company fast. Makes it tough to find the talent you need. Talent level drops while expectations remain the same. Environment gets worse. Gets even harder to find good talent. Now you’re talking about a vicious cycle. Hiring the right people can change the landscape and trajectory of your company. I’ve seen it firsthand.
What is your culture? Improve it if you need to. Then embrace it. Own it. Build hiring and recruiting strategy around it. Partner with other businesses in your sector to improve your industry and community. I’m a capitalist at heart. Money and Profit are good. Do these things and your business will benefit as a result.