In the real world, communities nurture all sorts of things: children, families, faith, sport, friendships, collaboration, discovery, learning, and more. Inside of companies, especially technology-oriented companies like ours, communities not only foster friendship and collaboration, they also support knowledge sharing and innovation. At Spark Digital, it is the communities, large and small, formal and informal, that accelerate professional growth and allow people to connect, find new solutions, and advance the technology offering we deliver to clients.
We encourage our team members to participate in our communities and pioneer new ones. And, we encourage every company in the professional services industry to embrace the idea of community and to foster their creation as an important way to boost the way we learn and innovate technologies and maximize the potential of talented professionals eager to learn.
In our experience, some of the top priorities of communities should be to:
Organic, generated by team members and support by the company - not the other way around.
Organize groups and promote leadership growth with mentoring and coaching.
Gain deep knowledge of different career paths. For example to allow someone to transition from being a QA engineer to a mobile developer as recently happened at Spark Digital.
Strengthen soft skills to empower talent to excel at turning ideas into reality.
Develop workshops to share knowledge and experiences effectively.
Make the concept of mentoring a core value and judge the performance of technology leaders based on their commitment to supporting younger talent.
Empower team members to ‘own their future’ and give them the support they need to develop into the professional they want to be.
By promoting communities, team members can find more satisfaction and motivation in the workplace as they gain knowledge and make progress in attaining their goals. This brings vibrancy and excitement to day-to-day work that could not possibly exist in the absence of strong, supportive peer networks and communities designed to support professional growth.
Call it karma or whatever you like, but we believe that strong ‘in company’ communities create a butterfly effect. The more you help and support others, the more help, and support you get. In a competitive industry like ours, it may seem counterintuitive to buy into this concept, and some pessimists do not. That’s why we believe it is important to assess talent not just on their knowledge, but on their willingness to share it. We’ve made this part of our ‘culture fit’ assessment of new candidates.
“Community is much more than belonging to something; it is about doing something together that makes belonging matter.” - Brian Solis (Global Innovation Evangelist).
A commitment to building communities is like a core value: It’s something that can be written down and plastered onto the wall, but if it’s not lived, it’s not real. A positive environment where mentorship and community involvement are noticed and rewarded is essential.
All that said, we know we have more to learn about how to build and grow communities within our company. We want to know: What’s your experience with building communities? Have you been part of a company community that improved your skills as a professional? What would motivate you to participate in a community like this? What can company leaders do to support the growth of communities?