3 Lessons on Developing a Team Culture at LinkedIn

It’s easy to have a startup culture when you’re a startup. But what happens when your company outgrows that title and spreads to 30 cities worldwide?

Your business is probably not as big as LinkedIn, but there are certainly company culture lessons that can be adopted by your team. We learn about the purpose and value of integrating the right team culture from the experience of LinkedIn’s international Customer Success Manager Africa Muñoz.

1. Open doors are essential to create a ‘transparency mode’

Instead of the top-down management style of many larger corporations with cryptic memos, the world’s largest professional network handles news with monthly all-hands objective meetings, fireside chats and an open door policy.

“All the product updates, all the new announcements, and everything. It’s one of our values: Be open, honest and constructive,” Africa said, Spain and Portugal’s Customer Success Manager.

A lot of flexible fun! Look at when the CEO Jeff Weiner calmly sat down when he was interrupted as some of the LinkedIn interns surprised everyone with a flashmob!

Companies that look to break down walls and open doors tend to have a stronger culture will flourish because they can readily adapt through the voices of different perspectives.

But building this sort of transparent culture is truly driven by who you hire, especially when you’re expanding as rapidly as LinkedIn. And as an added part of that honest culture, the social network even talks openly about how they recruit open-minded teammates.

“We hire people with huge hearts and drive. Anything else they don’t know, we can teach them,” said one of the IT directors Craig Williams in an interview.

And it’s not just about being transparent with your employees. LinkedIn prioritizes this through customer support too, which looks to recruit open and honest people truly dedicated to solving problems.

2. For employee engagement, it’s not diversity so much as ‘belonging’ that matters

At the start of this year, LinkedIn published an impressive piece on a new definition of employee engagement: diversity and inclusion is part of it, but actively facilitating a sense of belonging is the essential third ingredient.

“Only when we feel psychologically safe can we unleash our best selves. When we’re part of a team that values our opinion, we speak up and contribute more,” said Human Resources Head Pat Wadors.

She has made creating a sense of belonging an important part of training, contending that candidates and employees will forget what you say or do, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Africa describes belonging as “the feeling that you can be authentic in your work, that you matter, and you are essential to the team.”

But how do they put these fluffy words into action? She explained that at LinkedIn:

  • All managers and directors receive exclusive training on how to foster a culture of inclusion.
  • There are recruitment strategies to attract women to leadership positions or technical profiles.
  • LinkedIn offers tools and structure so that women with a high potential in leadership can nurture it through sponsorship, coaching and leadership skills development.

“Generally, all employees receive an annual training that prepares us to fight against what is known as unconscious bias or unconscious biases, so that we are able to recognize and quash them,” she said.

In addition, she said they have an annual employee satisfaction survey which features questions intended to spot potential inclusion problems, and managers even have goals related to diversity and inclusion.

Africa pointed out that more than a hundred employees have LinkedIn headlines like Diversity & Recruiting Champion, Belonging Architect, and Global Inclusion HR Program Manager. She said this shows dedication to taking ownership for this goal.>

By allowing team members to decide on their own titles, you allow them to not only show off the functions of their job, but its purpose too.

3. Often recognition is more important than salary

Of course, if you are running a business, the bare minimum is never failing to provide your employees with a comfortable living wage. But from there, companies of all sizes have to remember that loyalty and retention comes from offering a lot more.

“Salary is not everything, but recognition does not have to be monetary, it can also be emotional,” Africa said.

LinkedIn uses a platform where colleagues can share in peer-to-peer recognition.

“This recognition is visible so that all employees of the company are aware and can even interact, comment on, or ‘like’. Obviously, this award also translates into monetary terms, but I can assure you that the most rewarding thing is not this, it is the feeling that you have done your job well or that you have helped somebody else,” Africa said.

“In addition, when you give or receive a prize of this type, it always fits into one of the values that make up our culture, so that there is also an assimilation of them. A clear win-win for both the company and employees.”

Read more about the values that drive LinkedIn, based on transformation, integrity, collaboration, humor, and results.

How do you spread startup values across a wider-spread company culture? Tweet us about it to@RedboothHQ and @JKRiggins!