To whoever it may concern in the SEO Hacker team,
I know that getting to work early is a thing mostly overlooked by other company cultures. I want you to know that we’ve been lenient with that for almost 3 years now.
I will be completely transparent with you as I have always been. I’m not really happy that we have a 15 minute grace period and still people come to work late. I can simply accredit this as due to our lacking of any negative consequences for people who are regularly late BUT I will definitely not concede to this as being part of our company culture.
I know that you try to extend hours to keep up with your lates – however, if you can finish work early and go home early, wouldn’t that be all the better? But getting to work on time has to be respected – both for yourself and for the company.
Not knowing what time the train will leave means that people in the next station won’t know when it will arrive. This is something I think should be addressed. We want to eliminate the constant question of “When will the train arrive?”
Go to work on the right time. Don’t be late.
You maybe thinking “it’s not the company it used to be” – you’re right. It’s not.
We’ve grown – and we are growing in an unexpectedly rapid rate. At that, we all have to adapt. For most of you, your salaries are not the same as well – and we have the company and God to thank for that. The growth has sustained our payroll and has even expanded our office to where we are now.
As all growing things, it connotes change – change in culture, change in management, change in leadership, change in efficiency, change in style… Basically change in everything.
Please do not be so surprised as these changes are happening. It’s extremely hard to keep a culture the way it is from start to finish. Apple started in a garage – do you think they logged-in and logged-out with their hours during their early days?
What they did was burn their assess off in making the company good. And once it reached a net worth of more than a billion dollars, things changed. They had to take the company from good to great.
That means they did have to log-in and out. They had to be efficient. They had to produce. They had to deliver on time. They had to keep warehousing low while keeping supply and demand at a consistent rate. They had to deal with numbers. With a board. With shareholders.
In short, they had to deal with a lot of stuff they really didn’t deal with before.
I don’t need to write this letter to you. Let’s face the cold, hard facts: I can simply implement a policy whenever I want because SEO Hacker is a sole proprietorship – and I’m the sole proprietor. Of course, that is with the implicit knowledge that I won’t implement a stupid or harmful policy – and that, with each policy I implement, I myself take the lead.
The point I want to make is that change happens. We all have to deal with it. I used to be able to lead and deal closely with the ENTIRE TEAM – that’s because the entire team used to consist of just 4 – 5 people.
Now there’s almost 20 of us.
I know that you may not like the new policies. You may not like the Skype sign-in, sign-out, you may not like Hubstaff and how it’s taking screenshots of you and pushing/pressuring you to be more efficient, but hey, these are measures that we need to implement because we’re a business.
At the end of the day, we need the output. Our clients need the output. And there are times when the teams are really producing bad output.
I can’t deal with bad output.
Please understand, I’m a solo salesman. I’m not even a super salesman. I’m just an SEO salesman and God knows I’m doing my very best to close deals and renew contracts so that the company can grow and thrive and we’ll all have work to do and income to look forward to.
Do you know how hard it is to close a deal? Much more, to sell a service that is relatively ‘uncommon’ at a high value-for-money price?
I need the operations’ output to be good. No, not just good – great. Because that’s what we say and that’s what really makes us different.
Do you understand how much bad output frustrates me?
I’m not writing this to demoralize you or to tell you you’re doing a bad job.
I’m writing this to you to ask you to do your best in where you are. Because #1, God put you there, #2, you owe it to yourself and to the company to do great things, #3, because I am personally eyeing people who are A players and taking note of people who are B players or otherwise.
And right now, I don’t see that happening.
I’ve been reading the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. It shed a lot of light to where we are and what I’m supposed to do. One of the key points he makes is that the company should have the right people in the right seats. A players.
These people are self-motivated and have the company’s best interests at heart because they know, at the end of the day, the company is going to be the one to support them.
Someday things will change once more – and the company will need A players in the team. Perhaps only the A players will make it to the end.
Here’s one of my favorite nuggets of knowledge from ‘Good to Great’:
“Yes compensation and incentives are important, but for very different reasons in good-to-great companies. The purpose of a compensation system should not be to get the right behaviors from the wrong people, but to get the right people on the bus in the first place, and to keep them there.”
So far SEO Hacker has been a company that’s lenient with management, efficiency and delivery. We allow unlimited use of social media (even in company hours). We allow unlimited fun (also in company hours). We allow unlimited break times. We (used to) allow unlimited air-conditioning even throughout the night for those staying overnight.
All unaccounted for.
We cannot have that anymore. There has to be changes. There has to be accountability. And I assure you, these changes are for the better – for all of us.
Honestly, I would never want it to get to the point that I would be willing to lose some good people in order to implement a change that will improve the company as a whole. We have an awesome team – and we are like a family. Losing someone can really hurt. However, the thought of losing the company should be even more fearful. Right now, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Policies are not respected, deadlines are not met, menial tasks are overlooked.
We have to change that.
One smart uncle of mine used to say: “No one is indispensable. A boss who makes one of his people indispensable is stupid.”
Please don’t make me believe that I was wrong in thinking of making each of you Linchpins – indispensable individuals with high capacity for efficiency, growth, innovation and value.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” – Luke 16:10
We all know this verse. What I want to imply is very simple: If I can’t trust you to do the little things I ask of you, I wouldn’t be able to trust you when I ask you to play it big.
And I do need people who can play it big.
So tell me 5 things:
- What can we do to make sure that everyone gets to work at the RIGHT TIME
- What can we do to make sure everyone signs-in and signs-out on Skype
- What can we do to make sure that everyone’s testing Hubstaff correctly (recording time correctly, finding issues with screenshots/the app itself, finding issues with not meeting at least 8 hours, etc.)
- What can we do to make sure that everyone posts in the forums and reads articles even if things may not look like it’s picking up yet (because it’s still asked of you to do it – and it is part of our work)
- What can we do to make sure that you are meeting your quota, producing output, innovating and growing daily
Let’s face it, what we’re being paid for in SEO Hacker is our effort and our time. That’s what we have to offer. Are we really giving it our best? Or at least, are we really giving our job the right time and effort it deserves from us?
Because anything that falls short of that is considered stealing.
I also want to clarify that I may be wrong and this letter may just be another side of me that has been blinded by working remotely. However, the numbers speak clearly.
May God oversee all this. At the end of the day, it’s the Lord who gives wisdom and tells us how to act.