Employee Engagement: The SendGrid Way
Below is an article originally written by Ealga ni Aodha, the Organizational Development Specialist at PowerToFly Partner SendGrid, and published on March 2, 2017. Go to SendGrid's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
If you frequent our blog posts focused on our company, you've probably stumbled across posts on customer engagement and tips and tricks on how you can improve this through your email communications. However, at SendGrid, we are also obsessed with another type of engagement–the engagement of each and everyone one of our employees, affectionately called, "Gridders."
We've been measuring and improving on our employee engagement strategy since 2014–each time iterating on our process to derive more positive impact for our employees. Our last engagement check-in revealed an 11% point increase in engagement in 6 months, outperforming our goal and placing us on par with the top 10% of companies in Culture Amp's New Tech Benchmark. We are proud of the progress we've made, but more so, because we achieved it by staying true to our cultural values.
We define our culture by our 4Hs: Happy, Hungry, Humble and Honest. Honest means that as a company, we value transparency and welcome feedback freely. Staying true to this value, we have a thorough process of gathering employee feedback in a consistent way through surveys, focus groups, and team engagement reviews. This ensures that we have accurate data on how we are doing culturally and that our employees have an avenue to collectively share feedback with their leadership team.
Once we close out the survey, all employees get full access to our quantitative data, with the ability to view company scores, team scores, and assess variances over time. This level of transparency arms our employees with the results so that they can drive improvements within their teams.
Our Hungry kicks in when we seek solutions. We define Hungry as always looking for ways to innovate, improve, and raise the bar to deliver results. To ensure we stay focused on what drives long-term organizational success, and that we're constantly innovating and improving in those areas, we identified 4 enduring measures of success and one of them is employee engagement. This has allowed us to bring focus and dedicate sufficient resources to addressing issues that have surfaced through our feedback process.
Emphasizing employee engagement as part of organizational success clearly communicates that we prioritize improving our employee engagement, recognizing that by increasing the engagement of our Gridders. They will be better equipped to support our customers and deliver great results on their behalf.
In addition to reviewing the survey results in detail, we also prioritize sitting down with employees to listen, learn, and leverage their influence to make sure we turn feedback into action. From there, we set specific goals surrounding improvement in areas that we feel have a direct impact on engagement and report progress on a regular cadence.
If survey results on a particular question that we know impacts engagement is low, we will set a goal to improve that score by a specific percentage, share that goal broadly across the organization, and report results of our actions. Surveying is important, but what's even more critical is acting on the survey results and doing it in ways that are transparent to all. This dedication to solving problems AND leveraging our strengths is what builds a strong culture and a healthy, growing company.
At SendGrid, we describe Humble as always learning from each other and that we focus on the we, not I. As part of our engagement survey, our leaders and managers get rated by their team on their effectiveness. If they have not been performing well against our manager expectations, their ratings will reflect this.
Managers must then host reviews with their team to get direct feedback on what they could do to improve. This includes written action planning and follow-up with the team at regular intervals on progress. Although this can be a humbling process, it shows our Gridders that we care, that we're committed to improving, and that we will stay true to our philosophy on servant leadership. We send a clear message that if our leaders are not supporting their team, they must take action to address any deficiencies and we expect upward movement on their management scores with the next survey.
Our Happy H is demonstrated in many ways. We define Happy as bringing a positive, constructive attitude to everything we do, finding joy in our work, and having a good time. Although we recognize that happiness and engagement are different, engaged employees are without a doubt going to find more joy in their work as they recognize the positive impact their contributions are having on our business and on their careers.
Our leadership team practicing their servant leadership and serving ice cream as a way of saying thank you for the 98% participation in our last engagement survey.
As a team, we all feel happier and are more energized by seeing the progress we can make in areas that impact engagement when we focus our efforts and work together to solve a problem. We also see the direct impact on our overall company performance which encourages us to continue to do that type of focused, hard work. It drives results which energizes us all to continue to go the extra mile to solve problems and achieve our goals. We also believe that our customers are happier because we are happier–and that makes us smile!
Our work on engagement aligns with our 4Hs and focuses on building an amazing culture where each Gridder can thrive and do their best work. We know this drives retention, improved customer satisfaction, and in general makes us a truly great place to work. We know we're not perfect and continue to work on specific areas that we know are pain points for our Gridders. The good news is that we can continue to improve and in the process, will make SendGrid a stronger, better company for all.
Finally, we're hiring and always looking for our next great Gridders! Check out our PowerToFly page to learn more about our culture and view open positions.
It's been six years since Sarah Cooper graced us with her 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. But how on earth can we appear smart in our new virtual world, in which for many of us, going to work is just sitting in one long series of probably-not-necessary Zoom meetings?
1. Dial in.<p>Dialing in rather than joining via the link instantly boosts your credibility. Who calls into Zoom meetings? People who are still busy and important enough to be leaving their houses! But you needn't actually be one of those people, or even more than a foot away from your computer to pull off this maneuver. (Remember, this article is called *seeming* smart, not being smart.)</p><p><strong></strong><em>Bonus: </em>If it's a large meeting at which attendance will be taken, the person running the meeting will inevitably ask, "Who's calling in from 443-322-2121?" That's when you raise your metaphorical hand, jump off mute, and say "[Your name] here. Really looking forward to hearing your perspective on [meeting topic]." And voila! You've stolen the meeting spotlight.</p>
2. Don't come on camera—ever.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODU5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjMwNjI3OX0.4fLyq2CvkZAJ7n_03esZepY37mOdyGdDdTEUYt5XEU0/img.png?width=980" id="bc7e6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fbbf21cc5d8c863b30654ae6993b04f5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>Much like the "dial in," this technique works because it makes you appear aloof. If <em>The Crown has </em>taught me anything, it's that the key to maintaining a sense of mystique and prestige is to keep people at arm's length—and if you absolutely <em>must</em> touch them, wear a glove.</p>
3. Only communicate via chat.<p>Once you've mastered the art of staying off camera, you can level up by communicating exclusively via the chat box. Don't come off mute at all, even if the speaker asks your opinion. You are the elusive chatter and you will not be forced into actually participating in said meeting.</p>
4. Ask to share your screen.<p>Being aloof is great, but it's all about balance. Sprinkling in some active participation will really shock and impress your colleagues if you catch them off guard, so save this technique for when you've strategically <em>not </em>participated in a string of meetings.</p><p>Spend a few minutes prior to the meeting prepping a few inspirational slides with words like "synergy," "optimization," and "redefining 'culture'", or spend a few minutes poking around in Google Analytics. </p><p>Then wait for the opportune moment to say, "Can I just share my screen for a moment? I have some really interesting data I'd like to share...." and BAM — brilliance established.</p>
5. Show off your Zoom-saviness.<p>Try saying, "You know you can mute people, right?" to the host when they beg whoever's got the lawn mower and crying baby in the background to put themselves on mute for the nth time.<br></p>
6. Create an alter ego.<p>This tactic requires commitment, but the pay off is certainly worth it. Join the Zoom meeting from your normal account + name, and then join it again on a second device from an alias. Have your alter-ego ask some probing or stat-based questions in the chat and have the answers ready ahead of time. It should work something like this:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Your alter ego Charlene</strong><strong>:</strong> "Does anyone know what percentage conversion rates increased by in Q2?"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Real you</strong>: *doesn't miss a beat* "It looks like Charlene has a question in the chat. That would be 36%."</p><div>Never mind that no one on your team knows who Charlene is or why she's at this meeting, they'll be too blown away by your brilliance to notice. (Bonus points if you use this strategy in conjunction with techniques 1, 2, 3 or 4!)</div>
7. Place an obscure object in your background that exudes intelligence.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODYxOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzk5Njg2Mn0.V9_-3Ij3v_QndseqlrXRt5Nn39EJ97-itjls5zzYPf8/img.png?width=980" id="a369d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="604a2f04b53c2e3bc801bfa5256f367b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>We're talking a telescope, or perhaps a hardcover copy of <em>War & Peace </em>(no one need know that its only purpose in your life is as a makeshift yoga block).</p><p>If you don't have any suitable props at your disposal, do not despair: download some screenshots of Sheldon's apartment from <em>Big Bang Theory </em>or the chalkboard in <em>Good Will Hunting </em>and use those as a virtual background.</p>
8. Ask "Is this really the best course of action given the current climate?"<p>Economic collapse, COVID, racism… No need to specify whether you're referring to one or all of the above; just sit back and watch your boss squirm amidst the ambiguity.</p><p>This strategy pairs very well with techniques 2 and 3. You can prep additional vague-but-probing questions ahead of time and pepper them into the chat box throughout the meeting:</p><ul><li>How will this scale?</li><li>Do we really have the bandwidth for this right now?</li><li>What's the value-add here?</li></ul>
9. Remind everyone that you have a paid Zoom account.<p>"Oh, it looks like we're getting the 40-minute warning. I have a paid account, do you want to switch to my room?" It's helpful, with just a touch of condescension. Everyone knows condescending people are smart. And everyone knows that people with paid Zoom accounts are super important.</p>
10. Tell everyone you have a hard stop.<p>When pressed for details, share your philosophy on "work-from-home" balance and how committed you are to getting up once an hour to walk to your refrigerator.</p>
11. Ask the screensharer/host to "pull something up" for everyone.<p>Ask the presenter to navigate to a screen that only you know how to navigate well. Laugh maniacally while they suffer from crippling performance anxiety. Let them struggle for as long as is tolerable before saying, "Oh you know what? I can just share my screen if you want. That would probably be easier." BAM you're the hero. Don't worry, no one will even pause to consider that you could have proposed this course of action from the start.</p>
12. Say Zoom fatigue as many times as possible.<p>If you're too tired to employ any of the other strategies, just say "I know everyone is experiencing a lot of Zoom fatigue, so we can keep this meeting short." Then hang up as quickly as possible. Meeting averted! </p><p>After all, there's no better way to demonstrate your intelligence in a virtual meeting than to demonstrate why it wasn't really necessary in the first place. </p>
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