At ASG we have a unique company culture and one of the key characteristics of that culture is what we call the Freedom Box. In short, the Freedom Box is allowing our employees to do their job as they see fit. We don’t tell people how to do their job. It’s way outside the norm, I know, but the whole point of hiring a person is to get stuff done.
A few months ago we acquired noted analytics and simultaneously had hired a few other new people. As we were going through the traditional onboarding I was continuously coming back to the freedom box and it caught some people off guard. Mostly because a lot of organizations don’t operate this way. When we decide to create a new role we need to have a way to measure the success of that hire and we need to have a return on the investment.
If we hire this person they will have to accomplish these objectives, if they achieve these outcomes it’s worth the investment of paying them. During onboarding, we point to these outcomes and say your job is to achieve these outcomes, go get ‘em. We don’t care how you get there just that you get there, be as creative and unique as you want to be we just need these things accomplished. That’s the freedom box, we’re not going to tell you how to accomplish these tasks, all we want is for them to be accomplished.
Like I mentioned earlier, the whole point of hiring someone is to get stuff done. If Braedi or myself have to tell people how to do their job we’re not maximizing the human resources or our employees potential. We’re shrinking the capabilities of the organization as a whole if we have to walk people through their jobs hand in hand. Additionally, we’re restricting the creative value that each individual brings. If all the ideas or tactics are coming from the same brain our output if going to slow or even become stale. We want your experiences, failures, successes, and everything that makes you, you.
As people we all have unique experiences, we know what has worked and hasn’t worked in the past. We have all tried different things with varying levels of success. When hiring a new person, you want more than just the hours, you want an additional source of brain power. Don’t limit that person by holding their hand, cut them loose and allow them to get their hands dirty and see what happens.
How do we make sure it works?
This all goes back to the equation mentioned earlier. When hired you’re given a set of outcomes – for sales it could be revenue, for marketing it could be qualified leads, etc. I reiterate it all the time with the members of my team, I’ll ask – what is your job – is what you’re doing aligning with the outcomes that were assigned to you?
If you fail to hit those outcomes, we shrink the box a bit. We’re not telling you what to do, we’re just assessing what’s been done and telling you what not to do. We still want you to continue to use your strengths and your creativity to attack your job. If after this initial shrink you’re still struggling to achieve your goals we shrink the box a final time.
Now, we tell you what to do. But you’re only in the small freedom box for a little while. We tell you what to do, we hope you learn and figure it out, and the ultimate goal is to re-open the freedom box, take your learnings, apply your personality back to the job and own your role again.
However, if after this third time you’re still falling short now it’s time for us to reassess. It could be that you’re just not the person for the job and we’ll move you to a different role or if we don’t have a place where you’d fit we have to let you go. What we don’t do is place every one of our employees in the small box, tell them the tasks for their role, and scripting everything. That doesn’t drive accountability, ownership, and most importantly it doesn’t capitalize on the human resources of the organization.
The most successful organizations win because they are able to leverage the brilliance, uniqueness, and special talents of every individual in the organization. When you capitalize on the human capital within the organization you win.
Leadership, give it a try. Start giving your people to do their job. Stop telling them how to do it. Nobody likes to be told how to do their job. Open up your organization to the freedom box, assign your people with a set of outcomes and let them use the creative skills that you hired them for to accomplish them. You might be surprised what they come up with!