Culture Matters: Deputy?s President of the Americas, Jason Walker Gives 10 Steps to Deputy?s Success

Jason Walker

Jason Walker

President of Americas

February 08, 2017

Culture Matters: Deputy?s President of the Americas, Jason Walker Gives 10 Steps to Deputy?s Success

Jason Walker, President of Americas
February 08, 2017

The employee benefits like work-from-home flexibilities and free food Fridays that attract Millennials today may sound like an abomination to some Baby Boomers, but these are perks that everyone from the mom and pop cafes to the Fortune 500 companies are using to recruit top Millennial talent. The coveted Millennials are the largest generation in today’s workforce yet seem to be somewhat of a mystery to older generations. These “digital natives” – raised on Facebook, Apple and other technologies – EXPECT to be able to do everything on their smartphones – including work tasks. They prefer flexible working hours, demand work/life balance and want continuous feedback and coaching. With a strong desire for flexibility and freedom, Millennials are more comfortable than any generation before them to juggle multiple jobs, making them more likely to be lifetime hourly workers.

While some companies believe that the aforementioned perks are the key to Millennial recruitment and retainment as well as creating an amazing company culture for all generations in today’s hourly workforce, creating a successful, unified and engaging company culture doesn’t just come from perks – it happens on a bit of a deeper level. Harvard Business Journal reports that a company culture is comprised of two interrelated elements. The first is a unique company identity. The article expands to define identity as, “Distinctive characteristics that set it apart from other organizations. These characteristics give employees a sense of meaning just from being part of the company. They also create passion for what the company does.” The second is performance attributes that align with a company’s overall strategy.

At Deputy, we refer to these performance attributes as our “10 Mantras”. Each are used as individual values to help boost morale, create accountability and increase employee engagement. They truly embody what Deputy stands for. We believe that by utilizing the 10 statements below as a guide, any company can begin to build a unique and healthy culture that appeals to a cross-generational workforce, including the ever-elusive Millennials.

1.) Build strong relationships: Relationships fuel understanding, which builds trust, enabling us to reach our full potential. When a gap is created between expectation and experience, we will choose to “Believe the Best” vs. “Assume the Worst.”

This statement is truly the cornerstone for the rest of the mantras. We take a “friends first, co-workers second” approach in our culture, regularly meeting for lunch, grabbing a beer after hours and gathering to discuss our Gallup’s StrengthsFinder so we know who to turn to when filling in the gaps for our own weaknesses. When our experience at work with someone doesn’t live up to our expectations of them (peer, subordinate or boss), there is a choice to make. We choose to “believe the best” about that person vs “assuming the worst” about where they fell short.

2.) Open communication is required: The only way we grow is through candid conversation. As a team, we are obligated to seek and share positive and constructive feedback, rooted in care and respect from others, regardless of role.

Because we work in the fast-paced environment of a tech company, and because learning truly never stops, our goal is to create an environment of open and honest communication that will help both the company and our employees succeed. As for your Millennial employees – they crave this type of communication. In fact, PwC reports that more than half of Millennials value continuous feedback and positive reinforcement in order to achieve rapid career progression. That’s why, at Deputy, we emphasize building strong team relationships. These bonds allow us to have the type of discussions that we affectionately refer to as “carefrontations”. When someone fails to live up to our expectations, one must choose to “carefront”.  We use this term because the posture of the candid conversation is one of caring, not confronting.

3.) You are 2nd in charge: Our technology was founded to be “second-in-charge” to every business in the world because we enable our customers to be amazing at what they do while we do the back office, non-revenue driving employee management tasks like employee scheduling and time and attendance. While working at Deputy, you are here to be second in charge to not only our customers but your colleagues and your employees. Our philosophy is whenever, wherever, whatever you need. I’ll be there for you.

Deputy’s culture is rooted in teamwork. No matter what, we’ll be there for each other when the going gets tough. For example, our senior management team will help the marketing team pack up all the booth items for a tradeshow or if there’s a customer meeting to prepare for, the entire team gets involved to ensure it’s a success. It’s not about a fancy title and a corner office, it’s truly about doing what needs to get done, together, to ensure both the employee and the business are healthy and successful. When a culture is rooted in relationships, carefronting and teamwork, all based on trust, amazing things happen.

4.) No suits allowed: We reject an old-fashioned buttoned up company culture. We encourage free and open thinking.

For innovation to flourish, a rigid dress code, closed-off cubes and extreme office politics will get you nowhere. Steve Jobs said it best when he said, “You cannot mandate productivity, you must provide the tools to let people become their best.” The first step? A warm and welcoming office environment with humans working together, not robots!  We create an environment where people care more about others and ideas than if someone is wearing the right suit.

5.) Work should be fun: You should love to come to work, not dread it. We are all one big family, so we expect every team member to be passionate about our mission.

Deputy creates a fun, interactive environment with events like food truck outings, chili cookoffs,Topgolf events, Deputy team olympics and more. All of these events, no matter how big or small, are not just fun but encourage teamwork and open conversation!  Relationships are not formed in meetings or in the office.  Relationships are formed out of the office, really getting to know each other’s “stories” over a beer, a coffee or dodging 20 dodgeballs thrown at you!

6.) Challenge everything: If you don’t like something you must speak up! Every team member can provide his/her opinion on any decision. We welcome open debate not “Yes [Wo]Men.”

We hate the answer to the question “Why do we do it that way?” being “Because we always have”.  We are passionately driven by new ideas, cutting-edge concepts and stodgy business models.  We throw away anything that we don’t feel helps us contribute to our mission to transform the experience of hourly employment for the 21st Century.

7.) Never settle for mediocrity: Every day we strive to push the boundaries and innovate. We would rather try to change the world but fall on our face, than settle for mediocrity.

As with most startups, Deputy doesn’t view failure as a setback. Rather, it’s part of a growth mindset that seeks challenges that we may potentially fail at in order to continue to grow and develop in our careers and as human beings. As Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”  We believe we learn more from our failures than from our successes.

8.) NO B.S.: Deputy is not about fancy titles, offices, where you went to school or who you know. If that’s important to you, Goldman Sachs is always hiring.

Alright, we’re only joking about Goldman, but what we are really trying to say here is how important humility is in our culture. Being a great team player means you lack excessive ego (remember the example of senior management helping the marketing team?).  We run a very flat organization rooted in relationships and results and teamwork.  Everyone knows everyone else and works together to drive our incredible business results.

9.) Integrity & honesty are paramount: In an open environment lying should never occur, EVER. Mistakes or transgressions are part of being human and are tolerated, covering up mistakes with lies are not.

As mentioned in #7, failure is a part of the job. That said, being dishonest if a mistake happens isn’t necessary. We’re 100% transparent with both our customers and our employees in order to ensure the same treatment in return.  We think you really learn a lot about how people and organizations respond to mistakes.  When we screw up (which we do a lot because we are human), we own it and respond with what went wrong, what we learned and what we are going to fix and prevent it moving forward.

10.) The only clock we watch is our customers’: While we ensure the accuracy of Time & Attendance is perfect for our customers, Deputy is not the place for those looking for a cushy 9-5. We are competitive, action-oriented and results driven with the highest sense of urgency to help our customers be highly successful.

This means we encourage our employees to have a strong work-life balance while striving to ensure our customers are happy. If employees embrace the 10 Mantras mindsets of #1-#9, then that means they are responsible, committed, engaged and accountable members of the team, and there is no reason to micromanage their days to ensure they are giving it all they’ve got. They are just as committed and passionate about the company as anyone else.

What do these 10 Mantras do to enhance culture? Quite simply they provide guidelines that help to foster an environment that emphasizes teamwork, out-of-the-box thinking and exceptional customer service – core pillars of Deputy’s mission. Furthermore, these guidelines are completely synergistic with our product features. As much as we value honesty and open communication from our employees, we believe these are paramount to any businesses success, which is why Deputy’s technology allows both digital natives and novices alike a transparent and real time tool to manage their employee schedules, swap shifts, request time off and clock in and out all from their mobile device.

In order for these mantras to truly work, however, they have to be embraced by everyone from the top down, and it starts, as always, with leadership. You certainly can’t expect your intern to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid when they walk through the door unless Every. Single. Employee. above him or her exhibits the same behaviors. So, buy in from everyone is extremely important to cultivating a culture that encourages employee engagement. And with Gallup’s latest research stating that only 31 percent of employees are engaged at work, we believe tools like this are imperative to creating a workforce that is passionate about a company’s mission and vision.

These commandments don’t only serve to increase current employee engagement, but are also an excellent recruitment and interview tool. Using the list in both attracting people to and educating them on your company, helps to set a tone and expectation of what the culture is like and what it takes to succeed in the type of environment the company has created. Whether that culture is open and flexible like Deputy or more structured and government regulated, simply because that is what it takes to succeed in the industry the company specializes in.

A great culture is vital to the success of everyone involved in the company from the stakeholders to the customers to the employees, so this shouldn’t be taken lightly. No two companies “mantras” will look the same as they should be unique to your company’s identity and goals. Not to mention, creating this guide isn’t all it takes. As mentioned above, the process is two-fold, and not easy – it takes true teamwork and continued commitment. But, enacting these types of guidelines will ensure a positive shift that will, in turn, bring enhanced performance and ultimately an increase in the bottom line.

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Jason Walker
Jason is responsible for growing Deputy’s footprint across the Americas region.

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