Hire the Best and Cherish Them

How do you become one of your state’s “best companies to work for” four years in a row?

You need to create the right culture.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, “We don’t have all the answers,” insists Brock Blake, CEO of Lendio.

Lendio is the largest small business loan marketplace in the U.S. Small business owners use Lendio’s free online service to find financing within minutes by browsing multiple loan products from a network of more than 75 lenders.

For the last four years, Lendio has been named one of “Utah’s best companies to work for.” In addition, it has earned a stacks of other awards for growth services and company culture. So what’s the secret?

It’s teamwork.

LENDIO’S SUCCESS FORMULA

  • Identify what your values are – How do you want people to describe your organization?  What are the non-negotiables?
  • Don’t be so serious – You can have a little bit of fun and break some rules.
  • Focus on your employees as individuals.

If you treat your employees like gold, they’ll give you and your organization everything they’ve got.

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HIRING

Attracting your top talent boils down to marketing, and it pays to be upfront and honest.

Candidates need to understand what Lendio is and how they work. “I sincerely want to give them as much information about our company as possible to do their analysis and determine if they feel like it’s a great fit,” says Blake.

If you’re less than candid, that creates a lot of turnover in and of itself.

Tell candidates what is working well, and what are the challenges so they know you’re not just trying to tell them all the rosy things and hide everything else underneath the rug.

When Lendio goes looking for new staff, they look for individuals who cleave to the six primary values that give the company its “soul”:

  1. Employees feel the American dream. Lendio exists to help small business owners and wants people who are passionate about that.
  2. Don’t necessarily hire the smartest person in the room. It’s more important for candidates to want to learn and crave feedback. Diversification is good, but hungry is better
  3. Everyone should be the CEO over their own job. If someone is passionate about their role, they’re going to be good at it. Empower them, give them resources, and let them do their thing.
  4. Have fun. The team that works hard, plays hard, too. Having so many competitive personalities in one placde often bleeds off into fun, spontaneous competitions like a gravy slurp. (Don’t ask.)
  5. Employee trajectory. Invests in team members so that they grow not only within their organization but in their own skill sets.
  6. Transparency. Kick down silos and be transparent across the organization.

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CULTURE

In order to maintain the six core values which comprise the beating heart of Lendio, they maintain an internal “culture committee” that keeps a finger on the pulse of the company. The committee’s responsibility is two-fold.

  • Gather feedback from each department about what’s working, what’s not, and employee concerns. Address issues and give real-time feedback on questions about health benefits or other things that are important to the organization from a culture perspective.
  • Anticipate and plan out monthly themes. Past themes have included encouraging people to eat healthier or take the stairs three times a day.

Everyone within the organization is encouraged to post things on an active Slack channel like, what was the healthy exercise that you did for the day?

Regular company parties include a summer event with families, and an adults-only winter gala. That event includes their annual awards and a catered dinner. Smaller, more casual monthly events fill the gaps in between.

LET PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY DO BEST

Engineering is often viewed as the ugly but necessary stepchild within some companies.

“They are definitely a unique breed,” says Blake, master of the understatement. “But our engineers are, oddly enough, a reHire the Best and Cherish Them 4ally social bunch. They have game nights where they come in with their Xboxes and their Wiis and they play all night.”

But what makes them happiest is the creative license they have to run with a problem and solve it without being micromanaged.

Follow-through is also important. There’s nothing more frustrating to an engineer than pouring blood, sweat, and tears into a product that never sees the light of day because an upper management priority shifted. “Engineers want to see the results of their work,” says Blake.

Within sales or marketing, it’s easy to quantify results, and they get a lot of recognition. Lendio goes out of its way to say, “We were able to accomplish these sales or marketing goals because of what our product and engineering team has done.”

Go the extra mile to recognize the impact that the engineering team is having on the organization as a whole.

“If you can create an environment where that you allow for those things to happen, they really respond to that,” says Blake.

KEEP THEM HAPPY

Retention is a little more nebulous. But again, it boils down to one thing – treat people as individuals. “What we’re doing from a culture standpoint creates a great experience, but it has to trickle down. You need to understand what motivates that individual,” says Blake.

It’s not always financial motivation. Many other priorities are of primary importance to employees: career progression, stability, the ability to send their children to college, etc.

Key in to each person one-on-one:

  • Identify with that team member.
  • Discover their motivator.
  • Make sure they understand their role within the team: How do they fit in, how are they measured, how are they contributing?
  • Let them be the CEO of their job – let them do their thing without micromanaging, but do give them feedback.
  • How does that team member feel?
  • How are they being managed?
  • What is their work environment like?
  • What are their peers like?

Ideally, every team member should have a one-on-one with their manager at least once or twice a year. Part of it’s the accountability of metrics and results. The other part should be a regular check-in on their life: how are they feeling, how they feel they’re progressing, what concerns they have, what’s keeping them up at night, are there any new stressors at work or home?

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The manager’s job should be to remove hurdles and roadblocks to help their team members, and consequently the company, be more successful.

This post is based on a SaaS Academy Podcast with Brock Blake, CEO of LendioTo hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to here.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to the podcast here.

 

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Steve

Quick thought:

Amidst the intense positivity and prosperity that is heard from this podcast, Brock comments multiple times that despite these ideas and portrayals of perfection and success, Lendio doesn’t necessarily have everything figured out and they are working to be better. I can really appreciate that attitude and commentary, and I wanted to point out that while he talks about the values and objectives of his business and life, you can tell just by listening to him that he really does exude that humble and hungry mentality he talks about.