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“Hire great people and give them the freedom to be awesome.”

by Maria Onyango June 11, 2012

​"Hire great people and give them the freedom to be awesome," said Andrew Mason, CEO and founder of Groupon.

I look around the Freshminds office and, for once, find myself agreeing with a soundbite.

Freshminds is a genuine example of what can be achieved when a business allows its employees to be themselves - whether that's keeping a selection of cacti, ribbons, paint tins and stuffed crocodiles on your desk, using an intricate system of mini post-it notes as a filing system, or going overboard at the Christmas party and building a life-sized igloo out of board paper and plastic bags.

Are your employees doing their jobs? And doing them well? Are they communicating positively with the team, bringing in business, exceeding their targets, coming up with bright ideas? Yes? Then it's probably a good thing that one of your high-powered consultants is trying to eat peanut M&M's with a fork right now, because if they weren't, your team would be far less rich. Honestly.

My point is that teams with eccentricities - that contain individuals who aren't afraid to express their individuality - are teams with a wealth of ideas, experience, vibrancy and positivity. And those that are in them are buoyed by the shared feeling.

But it's not just about encouraging individuality, it's about encouraging community. Our ping pong table does more for inter-departmental relationships than the UN does for the planet.

Appreciating the value of one's employees isn't just about appreciating their skills, their experience or even their performance (though as someone who loves a target, I will never renounce the value of a solid appraisal system). It's about appreciating the fact that when you come in to work in the morning, you can sit down with someone who is not only good at their job, but who makes it a pleasant experience to sit in front of a screen for ten hours.

From an employee point of view, how can you 'tell' that you enjoy your job and are valued by your employers?

  • Your ideas and thoughts are listened to

  • Your creativity is encouraged

  • Deadlines are reasonable

  • Your manager is approachable and encourages your feedback

  • When you are criticised it is

    and useful

  • There is room for you to grow and growth is encouraged

  • You look forward to coming to work

  • When you do good work, it's recognised

  • There are people you can confide in at work

So, next time you see a colleague making a tower of cards from business cards, or having a 'conversation' with the plant on their desk ... rejoice.

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