“Office culture” is a term often bounced around and intriguing to company leaders. And when reflecting on what this looks like at Sylver, the environment at Google was what my mind immediately bounced to. While I have not experienced it first hand, I have seen and read a multitude of reports on how ‘cool’ Google’s office culture is perceived. Google is well known for its happy employees and friendly work environment, the opposite of a traditional, cold corporate work environment. This translates into Google repeatedly ranking as one of the best places to work in America.
Although there are no daily brain teasers or nap pods at Sylver, they encompass the underlying culture present at Google. From the Monday morning meeting on my first day, I knew Sylver was not what I had imagined. Picking an emotion off the SASHET emotion card was far from one of the the rituals at my previous jobs. At first I was uncomfortable, unsure what emotion I was even feeling. However, its effect was realized instantaneously, as it allowed colleagues to share what was currently exciting or troubling them. The cards created a surface level social connection amongst Sylver’s team that opened people up to one another. This sociability continues throughout the day and shows how caring those at Sylver are for another.
In comparison to what I have previously experienced elsewhere, there are no rumors or gossip spread within Sylver’s team. Herein is a further aspect worth noting: the people at Sylver refer to themselves as a ‘team’ rather than ‘staff’ or ‘employees’. I think this speaks to the sense of community felt at Sylver, that in my opinion, has a lot to do with its leadership and each individual member of its team.
As I have observed, Sylver is comprised of a multitude of personalities, each uniquely their own. When chatting one-on-one with each person at Sylver, it was evident that they were all equally aware of this. While this sense of differentiation was not welcomed at my previous job, it helps Sylver thrive. In my past work experiences, those that haven’t “fit” into the company image have been unwelcomed or seen as wrong. This mindset seems counter-productive, as different personalities bring different perspectives and thereby enrich the company’s offerings and abilities. At Sylver, this is an important aspect to their office culture. Challenging perspectives are met with respect and understanding, which is something that although many think they do, they actually don’t.
In line with their unwavering respect is the sense of appreciation found amongst Sylver’s team, there is a second part of the morning meeting itinerary that struck me as Google-esque. It was the section where team-members give a shout-out to one of their colleagues whom they wish to praise. The ability to give meaningful appreciation to the work of others is hard to come by in today’s cut-throat environment. Have I ever seen a middle position colleague praise their boss? Certainly not at my previous job. The negative aspects of an office place hierarchy are seemingly absent at Sylver, much to my surprise. As I have observed, colleagues here are appreciative and respectful of the work of others. One might be skeptical that I only heard positive remarks during my one-on-one meetings with Sylver employees. How did no one have anything negative to say? At my previous job, I have done similar inquiries and the responses were often tainted with negative remarks about others or the company as a whole. However, at Sylver, people were grateful for their colleagues and had only positive things to share.
This positivity and sociability translates into Sylver’s culture with its clients. Before even starting my interview process, the thank you notes and presents were unavoidable. Sylver’s clients were extremely happy with Sylver’s work and were coming back. I was surprised that Sylver had such loyal clients, many of which were huge companies I recognized from daily life. When asking Sylver employees if they knew how much their clients liked them, their modest response made it seem like that was the usual. But upon more digging, it seemed as though there are two different kinds of consulting clientele: one which is more relationship based with repeat business, or the more transactional based. According to Paul Campbell, who led a webinar on Models, Strategies & Tactics for Accelerating Innovation Through Collaboration, finding and validating synergies between companies is a big step for success. The synergy of partnerships plays a key role in the quality of work achieved, and I certainly noticed that during my time at Sylver.
I do not know if these happenings and qualities are unique to Sylver, but from shadowing larger corporations and working in one of the largest car companies in the automotive industry, I can say it is at least in the minority. A happier and thereby more productive office takes the work of every single person apart of it. Sylver’s team works seamlessly together to achieve their goals. The positive energy was inspiring and made me realize how drastically different work environments can be. I genuinely grew to cherish the people at Sylver and am saddened to go, but know the next intern will be welcomed with the same amount of openness and respect promoted by Sylver’s office culture.
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