Its a mistake for corporate leaders benefit managers included to confuse perks with culture, said Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, in a keynote address during the annual Great Place to Work conference in Dallas this week.
Perks such as free food or snacks or concierge services that pick up and drop off employees dry cleaning are there to make the workplace more comfortable, but the way to keep great people is to remember that great people want to work with other great people. I always tell managers its not your job to defend your team, your job is to improve your team, he said.
The other tactic Costolo shared for retaining great people is to always remind [them] why youre doing something why you have to achieve what you have to achieve, not [just] what you have to achieve, he said.
Twitter debuted at No. 24 on this years Fortunes 100 best companies to work for list.
In a wide-ranging discussion with Fortune senior editor Chris Tkaczyk, Costolo addressed everything from organizational transparency to how Twitter has managed to maintain its culture while growing rapidly to millennial workers and what they really want.
The best way to make sure your employees dont tell you the truth is to argue with them when they have the courage to speak up to you, he said. Costolo speaks to every new hire class at Twitter in an effort to make sure everyone understands they can ask him anything.
If everyone sees that anyone can challenge the CEO, then they start to understand that it should be expected at the company that anyone can question or have a discourse or debate with anybody in the company their boss, their manager, he said, adding that the process of creating a culture where honest, open discourse is the norm is far from easy.
I get in front of the company and talk about discourse and the importance of discourse and the appropriate way of debating. Discourse isnt about interrogating your opponents and being a prosecutor, he said. Its about having open debate to get to the truth.
Costolo took a bit of a contrarian view on generational differences in the workplace, saying that generational labels are convenient but not necessarily true. People who are entering the workforce these days want the same thing theyve always wanted, which is respect and the ability to have some ownership of their work, he said. And by ownership I mean accountability with authority. [They] want to be able to make decisions and get the work done the way [they] want to get it done. [They] want to understand how [their] work ties back to the success of the companys.
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