There are companies where people ignore thrash on the floor, leaving batteries uncharged and laying around, moving stuff out of their desk space onto common space or intruding into other’s space just because they want more space themselves, leaving company phone unanswered because the team member responsible for answering phone calls went to the toilet.
And there are companies where people in the office lean down to pick up the trash they see, bothered to charge batteries when they see them laying around, sort stuff and tidy up their space so the office looks more organised, picking up the phone call when the team member responsible is busy or gone to the toilet, giving their fellow colleagues a better environment to work in as they would do at home. We try hard to be the latter, a company where everyone feels a sense of responsibility to do the right thing to help the company at every juncture.
The above is the metaphor for taking care of problems, small and large, and never thinking “that’s not my job.” We do not have rules or roles on the above, we want to create a sense of ownership, responsibility and accountability so that this behaviour comes naturally.
Respect the processes but embrace the empowerment of freedom. Some processes are about increased productivity, carefully made processes and systems enable everyone to be on the same page, which improves collaboration among team members and better experience for customers, for example;
- When a customer calls in for an enquiry, the process is to immediately note down the name, email, contact number and enquiry details, after which this set of information is passed to the relevant parties.
- This ensures the customer won’t be asked the same information twice, and the relevant party do not have to keep asking for specific information.
We are in the creative business, not a system and engineering firm where heavy machinery and equipment is involved, the worst thing that can happen is having too many rules and regulations that limit creativity. We want to inspire more than manage, we trust our teams to do what they think is best for Firefly Photography by giving them lots of freedom of decisions and information to support them. This in turn encourages developing the natural behaviour and mentality of responsibility, accountability and self-discipline that drives us to do great work that benefits not only the company but ourselves.
We believe that people thrive on being trusted, on freedom, and on being able to make a difference. So we foster freedom and empowerment wherever we can. You might think that such freedom would lead to chaos. But we also don’t have a clothing policy, yet no one has come to work naked. The lesson is you don’t need policies for everything. Most people understand the benefits of wearing clothes at work.
There are a few important exceptions to our anti-rules pro-freedom philosophy. We are strict about ethical issues and safety issues. Harassment of employees or trading on insider information is zero tolerance issues, for example. Some information security issues, such as keeping our customer data and information safe, have strict controls around access.
On rare occasions, freedom is abused and we have a low tolerance for that. We had an employee once who sought another colleague’s help to be a mobile light stand, who is a petite lady, this lady was tasked to raise a 5kg strobe light for the duration of the photoshoot just because this employee had forgotten to bring a light stand and didn’t want to take a taxi back to the studio to retrieve it. But those are the exceptions, and we avoid over-correcting. Just because a few people abuse freedom doesn’t mean that our employees are not worthy of great trust.