I’m thrilled and humbled to announce that we were named Austin’s Best Place to Work! The full article in the Austin Business Journal (ABJ) is here (and you can watch my acceptance speech here). It’s our third year on the list of best medium-sized companies to work for, and this year we are finally #1 (up from #2 last year).
When we started Bazaarvoice, Brant and I knew culture was important. Sam and Andy quickly came on board and embodied that same focus. We knew that we needed the smartest people available, with entrepreneurial spirit and tons of passion, and in four years, through massive growth, we have not let go of our high standards, and we have never taken our eye off culture.
Each year, companies are invited to enter this competition, where employees anonymously fill out a survey asking about things like their trust in management, the level of appreciation they feel, and if they feel they are making a real contribution to their organization. What’s unique about our company is that we, in essence, ask these questions every quarter. Our employees have comprehensive performance evaluations with their managers each quarter, and we use MBOs (Management By Objectives) that we build together with employees to ensure they always know how what they do fits into the “bigger picture” at Bazaarvoice. Managers have regular one-on-one meetings with each employee, with the goal being no surprises at that quarterly evaluation.
What’s more, every employee evaluates managers (including the executives and me) each quarter through an online survey where they rate us on whether or not we are living our culture. I’ve had managers tell me how much they appreciate this – it really uncovers blind spots for them (me too), plus it gives employees a great way to give feedback to their boss. There is no fear of repercussion and we regularly emphasize the lessons learned in the great business book, Fierce Conversations (required reading at Bazaarvoice).
I’m proud to say we got an amazing 96.81 out of 100 possible points on the employee satisfaction survey. It helps me know that the open communication and culture we’ve created at Bazaarvoice is working for our employees. But we never rest on our laurels here. As a matter of fact, we just concluded our two-day executive team quarterly strategy off-site meeting where we had an impassioned discussion (like usual) about how to take our culture to the next level. We have never missed our quarterly meeting and culture has always been a key focus of our agenda.
To celebrate this cultural milestone, I’m taking the entire Austin team to celebrate at the movies – in our own theater to see Terminator Salvation. And at a theater equipped with motion seats, no less. We’ll see if it is worth talking about (the pre-buzz has been “interesting” and we are the 4th city in the US to get these).
The ABJ photo above was taken at our quarterly All Hands meeting at the Alamo Drafthouse, and it really exemplifies the fun atmosphere of these meetings. That’s our CMO, Sam, about to hit our huge, 52” gong – another fun Bazaarvoice tradition (and supposedly this 52″ was only one of two left in China that was available for purchase). We gong for big announcements, like when we recently hit 50 billion pieces of user-generated content served up for our clients. As CEO, I see myself as the Chief Culture Officer (if the CEO doesn’t set the tone, you could have a real cultural breakdown). But we all own culture at Bazaarvoice, and I’m so proud of what we have built together – as a team.
Bazaarvoice is hiring – big time. If you know an incredibly smart, passionate person that wants to join a company built to win, please send him or her our way!