How would you feel if an intern doesn’t show up for work one day and doesn’t send any kind of notice? Worried, perhaps?
But, what if it turns out that he decided to quit and did not bother to inform you about it?
Well, in that case, it would most likely be recognized as an act of disrespect or at least a lack of empathy. The most common reaction to that situation would be: Never mind. All things considered, we shouldn’t work with this guy.
That was my first thought. But something just felt off regarding that thought.
Time: November 2014.
Vivify Ideas: young and inexperienced company
The guy: intern without any experience or formal education
Me: young but already bald CEO
Why “never mind” was off the table?
But it was enough for us to recognize that this guy had huge potential. We hired him as an intern and he did very well in the first 2 weeks.
Then, suddenly, he quit without notice.
Despite that, I couldn’t just say “Never mind”. I believed this was the right place for him to develop his talents.
Before applying for the job, he struggled with studying at out-of-date colleges, learning all the non-practical and unnecessary things and I knew from experience that this kind of guy wouldn’t do too well unless he changes his surroundings. He needed an environment that was highly programming-oriented, that was open for knowledge sharing, that encouraged learning new stuff and that was brimming with cutting-edge technologies.
Our company was just such a place.
This is where values come in. Bits and pieces inside our brain that drive our decisions.
Although I valued people who acted respectfully, it was much more important to provide a possibility for people to develop their talents. I felt it was my duty to act responsibly, not just to the guy, but to the whole company. The only decision that really fit was to call this guy again and to explain how we see his career and his personal development.
The guy decided to continue with the internship, and 2 weeks later — we hired him. In the coming months, he fulfilled his potential like we expected he would and, today, he is one of the most valued employees we have.
This decision was made according to our values: we value talent, fulfillment of potential, and we believe it is our responsibility to facilitate it. Even though we might not have been aware of this at the time, it has become clear to us later on through other decisions that we have made. When I started writing values and principles of the company, I had no doubt what I should write:
Key company values are continuous progress, fulfillment of potential and making the most of our talents.
We didn’t earn our talents, we were born with them. Although our talents are a huge opportunity, we also have a huge responsibility to handle them the best way we can.
If every person’s responsibility is to develop their talents, it’s their company’s responsibility to establish the environment suitable for such development. A company should act as a catalyst, encouraging and facilitating the changes that stimulate every employee’s personal development.