Apr 1st, 2021
Part 1: Compassion
Written by: Kirk Hoaglund, Chief Executive Officer
Like any company, Clientek spends a good deal of time thinking about company culture. It is an important part of how people choose where to work and a huge part of how our clients choose to do business with us. In my 35 years running ventures in the SMB space, I’ve had great discussions with other business owners about culture. What kind of culture to persist and how. Paying attention to that is one of my favorite parts of being a business owner.
I started noticing a change in 2020 arising from the challenges of a pandemic, business slow-downs, and outright fear for one’s health and safety. It was a difficult time, personally, for most people, and a complicated time for most businesses. For those business who were forced to shut down, even temporarily, I will forever feel sadness. For others, like Clientek - we held on to some opportunities to continue, albeit in new ways. But something was changing and has changed. I think it fits into the word “culture” and it is a change that I hope is permanent. I will strive to make it so in the halls of Clientek.
I noticed it first in routine meetings. One can come to dread meetings when they follow one after another. But we all know that many meetings are essential for planning, coordination, and to ensure we are all working toward the same goals. If you’re like me, you have some of those every day. In 2020, those meetings started to morph, just a bit. More of them began just a little late and started with small talk. “How are you doing” small talk. However, instead of being the usual business protocol and something to be quickly dispatched, attendees really did want to know “how are you doing”. Everyone really wanted to know that everyone else was okay. We all seemed to care just a bit more.
Next I saw that starting to creep into proposals and negotiations. Those meetings started cordially, and the proposal walk-through or contract discussion was interrupted, occasionally, by a laugh or an expression of concern for another. In a CONTRACT MEETING. NO WAY. I saw people come to an agreement more readily and with less tension. I saw teams express genuine enjoyment at the idea of working together toward a shared result.
As the year rolled on, the effects of the pandemic began to touch closer and closer to home. We all began to see people closer to us and to our circle being affected by virus. Some lost friends and family. Others fretted while their spouses fought the virus in a hospital bed. Or they, themselves, spent time in that hospital bed. I saw, every day, in every business circumstance, no matter how routine, people be extra nice to one another. When the masked UPS guy dropped off your package, you asked how he was doing…and meant it. When the facility management company sent their manager to work on your issue, she sought you out to say “hi” and you both inquired about families.
Business interactions have become cordial and caring. They’ve become extra nice. We have been reminded that we work with other people that have fears and challenges just like our own. It took a world-wide pandemic to remind us. I am hoping for and planning to work toward a continuance of that new, powerful addition to our company culture.