Two examples of how leader engagement can lead to employee engagement 

As a company, one of our core values is “Be Curious, Ask & Learn.”  Consequently, we strive to create a place where feedback is not just valued and solicited but also acted upon.  At Thoropass, we conduct regular employee engagement surveys to gather feedback from our employees about their experience working here, what they truly value, and what can be improved.  

Identifying opportunities to improve

In our most recent survey, there was a clear theme that our leaders were not as accessible to our employees as they had previously been.  Many reported not feeling like they had as personal of a relationship as they wanted with leadership or that siloes were starting to develop across the organization and its different functions.  Indeed, part of being a startup experiencing rapid growth is the danger that people will have less frequent access to leaders and start to feel disconnected from them and their vision for the company.

In response to this feedback, our leaders committed to a number of actions we hoped would begin to address the problem.  

Founder Breakfasts

Firstly, our founders were starting to feel the same way, so we started twice monthly “Founders Breakfasts,” where any employee is invited to sit down and have breakfast and an informal conversation with one of our founders.  We host one “live” breakfast at our offices in NYC each month and one “virtual” breakfast to support our employees around the world.  

Food is always provided, and attendance is optional, but in the short time we have been hosting these informal gatherings, more than 50 employees have participated. Conversations have ranged from the very practical “What does next year look like for our company?” to the very personal “How is your new baby?” (one of our founders recently became a dad for the first time).  It’s the personal connection and time spent together that is proving valuable.

Senior Leader Hangouts

Relatedly, we started hosting “Senior Leader Hangouts,” where once each month, a member of our leadership team holds an open calendar slot for folks to drop in and learn more about that leader, their function, career history, or even just what their life is like outside of work.  Again, this is an optional, informal meeting.  

While each leader comes with a topic or two they can share to get the conversation started, the group’s questions and the leader’s stories generally take the wheel within the first few minutes.

Informal events like these are so important for building personal connections in this world of remote and hybrid work and facilitating opportunities to “Be Curious, Ask, & Learn” when it comes to Thoropass’ senior leadership.  Much of the discussions that happen in these meet-ups might have been what you talked with someone about over a cup of coffee at the office or while walking to the train.  The only difference is that now we need to be intentional about it.  So far, being intentional about building personal relationships is highly beneficial, not just for our employees’ need to connect but for our leaders, too.

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