I started AGORA in the mid-eighties with two employees.
As our business grew organically over time, we added new employees, as needed. We currently have over 300 employees.
In the beginning, and for many years thereafter, we had an excellent company culture. We were hungry, we worked very hard six to seven days a week, we were customer-focused. We had an excellent line of quality products, and exceptional customer service to back our products up. We enjoyed working hard and took some time off as well to have fun together, such as pizza parties, gatherings, etc.
As the company grew and I travelled more to see our customers, I began to lose connection with our team. We started to have disappointments within our team members. We had some troublesome employees – but I had no time to confront this issue as I was traveling on business. Fortunately, these employees left, and I started working on bringing the culture back to where it once was. In spite of the sense of bureaucracy that set in, our design, quality of products and production remained top-notch. Our growth and customer retention during and after this bump in the road is a testament to our resilience.
How we rebuilt our Company Culture?
As the toxic employees left the company, negative conversations stopped, the atmosphere improved, and we spent time discussing more productive issues.
I began spending one to two hours every day talking to new and old employees during which I emphasized the following:
- Every one of us at AGORA is someone
- No one is better than anyone else
- We all have different jobs, and that we need to do our job in order to help take care of our customers
- ‘Sense of Urgency’ in everything we do
Next, our team began listening to all employees; not hearing, but truly listening. We started by talking about problems and solving them. As we worked our way through this process, we inquired about ways to help make our employees’ jobs easier. As suggestions started coming in from employees, we formed a team that worked on these suggestions.
We also celebrate our wins more often and we will continue this process so we can keep our culture alive and thriving.
Lessons learned ….
- Keep a pulse on company morale
- If you have a complaint, find a root cause rather than a temporary solution
- If you have a complaint regarding someone from many sources, confront the person (toxic employee) and try to change his/her behavior in a specific timeframe, or help the person leave the company
- Always be available to spend time with the employees and take care of their requests ASAP