How Pairing Employees With Mentors Can Improve Company Culture

November 4, 2017

12:45 pm

Building a strong culture where employees feel they are heard, included and valued can reduce a company’s turnover. We talked with Drew Johnson, CEO and founder of App Partner, about his employee management strategy, company culture experience, and how he retains employees. Here’s his advice to entrepreneurs:

Keep Candidates on Their Toes

One of my favorite interview questions is to ask a candidate for their elevator pitch. This is an especially telling question for marketing and sales hires, as I want to see if they can think on their feet and come up with a persuasive argument on a time crunch. I also like to ask sales candidates to pitch my company back to me, which allows me to determine if a candidate has done their homework and has an innate ability to sell.

For any position, it’s a great idea to throw a skills test at candidates. For our developers, we may ask them to construct a PHP API Backend. For marketing, we could ask them to throw together a mock social post. We want to make sure that our employees have natural talent in the areas that count, which is why it’s so important for us to test those skills on the spot.

Creating Opportunities to Connect

One of my favorite aspects of App Partner’s company culture is that many of our employees become friends both inside and outside of the office. We try our best to create opportunities that allow employees to genuinely get to know one another, be it through large monthly company events or breaking out the Xbox for a FIFA match in the break room. Many of our employees become close friends, and some have even become roommates. In all, we’ve fostered a very welcoming and inclusive environment here, which I’m definitely proud of.

Crowdsourcing Company Event Ideas

We’ve found that deciding on activities without company-wide input leads to lower turnout at events, so we’ve turned to crowdsourcing ideas for company events and allowing employees to vote on these ideas. We also make sure that any events are held near the office and are inclusive of all members. For instance, we ensure that no event is too centered on drinking, so no one feels pressured to drink at an event.

communication

Creating a Mentorship Program

An excellent way to make onboarding more personal is to create a mentor program. At App Partner, each new hire is assigned a mentor who works in their department and can help answer any questions that arise during their initial days at the company. We also have mentors take new hires out for lunch on their first day so new employees will know at least one friendly face by the end of their first day.

Letting Employees Lead the Way

A simple, but effective way to invest in your company culture is to give some control to your employees.

Each Monday, we hold a company-wide meeting where employees can vote on office improvement suggestions that are submitted throughout the week in a Slack channel. Once everyone has voted and a suggestion is decided on, we assign a task force to meet during the week to discuss their task and come up with a viable solution. At the next company meeting, the task force then presents their findings to the company.

We’ve had some especially fun and interesting suggestions become great additions to our office, including Summer Fridays (half days on Fridays) and in-office beer brewing. Not to mention, a variety of suggestions have made a sizable impact on our productivity, such as improving the organization of our testing devices.

Ultimately, these tasks forces alleviate some of the burdens of fostering a positive company culture while allowing employees to have more control over their company’s environment. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Read more about developing your company culture at TechCo

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