Notes to Remember for When I Am Running a Company

I’ve been keeping a mental check list over the past few years regarding some ideas that I want to keep in mind when I am running my own company one day in the future. The purpose of this list is to gather ideas that optimize for employee happiness and to ensure that I do not repeat the mistakes I have either witnessed or observed through others. Let’s jump right into it:

  1. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Is a “free” lunch in the office just another way to keep employees working at their desks for longer? I want to encourage employees to leave the office regularly to eat or pick up lunch. I think this would make employees feel supported in choosing whatever food they like, eat with whomever they prefer, in addition to contributing towards a more vibrant neighborhood by supporting small businesses.
  2. Unlimited vacation means no vacation. When vacation time is not bounded by minimums or maximums, there is inevitably going to be abusers of the system and also people who do not take off enough time. I firmly believe in a minimum vacation policy. Three weeks off, paid, for your first year. Then four weeks off every year after that.
  3. The company doesn’t own your personal work. Personal projects developed during free time are owned by the person, not the company. GitHub recently took a stand in this regard by stating that all personal projects that do not relate to their business are not owned by them. I believe this leads to numerous benefits for the employer and the employee, as stated on GitHub’s Balanced Employee IP Agreement page.
  4. Transparency regarding cash flow matters. Employees who understand exactly how cash flows in and out of the business are able to prioritize their tasks more effectively because they can make the connection between their work and the overall health of the business. Additionally, transparency regarding cash flow gives employees better insights into their own positioning in the markets for which they are creating goods or services.
  5. Butts in seats does not equal productivity. The optics of work are not work anymore. This attitude prevails from the manufacturing economy of the industrial-era, where more time on the assembly line actually correlated to increased productivity and revenue growth for the company. The information economy does not always reward longer hours with better productivity.
  6. We’re all learning. The workplaces where I have personally been most comfortable are environments in which the team has the mindset that we’re all learning (we do not expect you to know everything, but we do expect you to read a lot!), mistakes are tolerated, and we’re all just trying to do the best work of our lives. To that end, this list of ideas, of course, is just that: a list of ideas that I think will help me learn and improve in the future. If you have ideas that you think I might like to add to this list, please feel free to reach out and let me know!

 

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John Marbach

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06 2017

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