Connecting the Dots
Creating space for the the seemingly small "wait, what?" questions is key to building a culture of transparency and trust.
“Remember that time you sent everyone frozen pizzas?”
One fantastic thing about working at a digital agency that was founded in 1999 is that our established values and traditions often morph into Viget Lore.
As Viget’s Employee Engagement Manager, it’s my job to connect the dots for new teammates and tenured ones. Twenty three-plus years is a long time and a lot has happened – just look back at some of our article archives. Without good documentation, a kickass People Team, and a culture of transparency and trust, those twenty three years could have easily turned into the longest game of telephone ever... and potentially most wacky.
“Wait, TTT’s aren’t always on a Thursday? Isn’t it Third Third Thursday?”
“What’s with this :florence: emoji?”
“What’s with all the rats?”
“Wait, there is a Viget band?”
One tool in our toolbox is #viget-lore. #Viget-lore is an official Slack channel that I tell every new teammate about on their first day. It’s a judgment-free place to “Wait, what?” born during a time when we, like many other organizations, were developing and fine-tuning our approaches to remote onboarding, turnover, and distributed teams.
It actually all started with that Viget band question.
Musical performances are an established Viget tradition. In 2020, when we were a fully distributed team, we leaned into that tradition. My talented peers shared live and pre-recorded music with each other during company-wide touchpoints, and sometimes when we didn’t have a new performance to share, we dug into the archives. During one of those occasions, I shared a recording of the Fleetwood Hacks performing at Viget19, the question was asked, and the #viget-lore channel was born.
#Viget-lore is powered by Reacji Channeler. Anytime someone uses our custom :vigewhat: emoji, the associated post is automatically cross-posted in our #viget-lore Slack channel. A Viget historian (aka a more tenured peer or a peer who may have just "been there") responds to the post with context.
It’s a company-wide effort. Anyone can react, anyone can respond. The People Team is charged with making sure posts get responded to, but to be honest, most of the time teammates beat us to it.
That brings me back to the pizza…
I was recently reminded of the importance of connecting the dots when a newer colleague responded to a mention of the fabled frozen pizzas with “wait, what?” I did actually send everyone frozen pizzas. It was early 2020! We were still optimistic the pandemic would be over soon, we still had our summer haircut appointments booked, we had our rose-colored “chalk it up to a novel experience” glasses on, and, believe it or not, at-home delivery services were still optimizing. We rolled with the punches and fumbled together our first-ever remote all-hands meeting, sending everyone care packages that included frozen pizzas from my favorite pizza joint back home, Pizza John’s. (Who, lucky for you, now ships bake-at-home pizzas nationwide).
Sharing this story and connecting the dots for this new teammate was a powerful reminder of our values and our commitment to upholding a culture of transparency and trust. It only works if clarity is abundant and individuals have obvious avenues to ask any question – even the wait, whats. The channel isn’t used all the time, and these days musical performances are far less frequent, but when the channel is used we can count on each other to help one another connect the dots.
I believe that even a small effort like #viget-lore helps our team show up in small ways — like helping a newer coworker 'get' a punchline — and in big ways — like having the trust and confidence to get up on stage and share their talents, musical or not.