October 3, 2012

The four-word employee handbook

Everything I want from myself and others at work (and in life!) can be summed up in four words:

Honor God. Love others.

When we started Logos Bible Software twenty years ago, I used a software program to generate a boilerplate “attorney approved” employee handbook. When employees asked “What’s our policy on…?” I might refer them to the handbook, since I couldn’t always remember what it said. But more often I would just approve their special request, or tell them to use their best judgment.

Then I took the Zappos tour, and read the Netflix culture slides. And I realized that we already employed awesome, smart people who trust each other. What did we need a butt-covering book of legalese for?

So that’s it: Honor God. Love others. Our new employee handbook in a nutshell, and the primary measure we weigh decisions against.

To complement the nutshell-handbook we developed a set of slides that expound on the theme, meet the letter of the law, introduce our corporate values, and explain the culture. We even decided on two actual rules: no smoking, and no open flames.

It can be scary to work with so few guidelines. Managers wonder if employees will abuse the un-tracked vacation time; employees wonder if they’re embracing too much or too little freedom. It requires trust and openness and conversation. But after 18 months it is working well.

Comments

  1. John :

    As a participant in and beneficiary of this culture at Logos Bible Software, I can attest to its positive influence on individual employees.

    People feel more valued because they treat others and expect to be treated with God-honoring respect. People are more innovative because clear vision with little bureaucracy provides the freedom to build the right things fast.

    Mere compliance with complicated Rules no longer suggest my work is done; now I actively exercise freedom to uniquely align my passions with company goals. It actually reminds me of the New Testament: strip away all the laws and get down to the heart.

    Thanks!

  2. that’s a brilliant four-word LIFE manual! “Honor God. Love others.” it covers any and every situation :-) thank you for this!

  3. Mark Ainsworth :

    Or…. Love others by honouring God… Or… Honour others by loving God. A beautifully circular ideal. If I lived in the USA I’d certainly work for you. All the very best.

  4. Jesus has a better handbook. “Love God, love others.” After reading Bob Pritchett’s post on ownership, perhaps it could be “Own God, love others.” To do that right you have to be spiritual so I recommend “Pray a Gospel” again until you can do it from memory. The more you pray a Gospel the more you obey a Gospel, which brings Jesus’ kingdom forth, making you part of the New Man, which will ascend to God’s throne and build the New Jerusalem, Jesus’ bride, which will “love God first then others.”

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