Company Culture Lessons From TakeLessons

For many companies, especially those that value employee growth and development, company culture is far more than a buzzword. TakeLessons, a San Diego based company, makes company culture the driving force behind productivity. Just take a peek at their employee created video on their website to see it first hand.

TakeLessons provides a platform that links students with tutors. Their service enables tutors to advertise to potential students, schedule lessons, and facilitates timely and consistent payment for services. TakeLessons started in 2006 focused on connecting music instructors to aspiring musicians. Since then, they have expanded into providing tutors on diverse topics ranging from hobbies such as crocheting and to traditional school subjects such as algebra – and everything in between. Feedback from both students and instructors is overwhelmingly positive. Clearly, TakeLessons has solid footing in a competitive market.

To make their business model thrive, TakeLessons has invested a considerable amount of time and money into creating a company culture that is based on their vision and values all the while encouraging its employees to set, and exceed, goals and challenges.

Kristi Pastore, a partner at Equal Parts, sat down with Steven Cox, the CEO of TakeLessons, to learn how they approach their most important company asset, their people and how they have cultivated such a strong and positive company culture.

Company Culture Begins At The Beginning And Never Ends

Steven explained to Kristi the reason why culture is so important, even from day one, is because the values and beliefs they set with their employees from the beginning will shape the company future…forever. Steven went on to share his philosophy that a positive company culture gives TakeLessons the best chance of continued success and helps make work rewarding and fulfilling.

One example of their people-first mentality in lieu of employees, TakeLessons hires teammates. In this vein, the company empowers their managers to act as team coaches that hire well, develop their “athletes”, cut from the roster as needed and strive to build a team of All-Stars. Team members prosper by training, growing, and succeeding together as a team.

One of the most visible displays of their commitment to a positive company culture is their appointment of Culture Ambassadors. In addition to their day job at TakeLessons, these Ambassadors are empowered to continuously keep culture in the foreground. It’s a constant reminder that team members come to work each day to fulfill a bigger purpose than just earning a paycheck.

On a more personal level, shortly after on-boarding, newer team members meet with managers once a week until they are comfortable and established in their position. Veteran team members meet once a month with managers for one-on-one coaching and development. During these meetings, team member’s performances are evaluated, and future goals are determined.

To keep his pulse on the culture and prevent silos from building, Steven periodically goes to lunch with six employees at a time, all of them from different departments. They “cross pollinate” and form deeper relationships, learn about one another’s roles, and learn how they can help each other. Steven also seeks their suggestions and takes action on an item or two. This cross pollination reinforces the team idea and exposes team members to the needs of other departments.

Core Values Are The Guide and Goals

In the end, core values are the foundation of TakeLesson’s success to date. From the beginning, it was important that the values were not meaningless words. They are intended to be guides for strategy and plans. These values include:

  • Ownership mentality. Everybody is an invested member of the team, the success of an individual is tied to the team and vice versa. Every team member should ask themselves, “What would I do if I owned the company and everything I had was on the line?”

  • Continuous improvement. Team members are encouraged to embrace a Constant and Never-ending Improvement (CANI) philosophy. The company advocates for them to set aggressive goals, challenge themselves, and enjoy the process.

  • Build things you’re proud of. Your products and service are a direct reflection of the company and every team member. Team members should produce a work product that is worthy of respect.

  • Respect yourself and others. Respect for each other and their part of the process while still holding each other accountable. Team members should act in the best interest of the team, actively communicate with each other and be effective in their job.

Steven conveyed how he wants the core values to drive the behaviors of the team members. Their behaviors, in turn, help them achieve superior results. This focus and work ethic will drive the company forward.

Equal Parts frequently meets with dynamic leaders and companies’ that excel in how they run their businesses, engage with their teams, and operationalize their culture. If you would like to learn more about how how to operationalize your company culture, and how it will help your business, schedule an appointment with Equal Parts.