The Motley Fool - An Organization That Lives Its Values

Does organizational culture really matter? It sure does – just ask the employees at Alexandria, VA-based investment firm The Motley Fool. They will tell you (and you can learn more about it personally on YouTube or on their website that there is a real difference when you work for an organization that lives its values.

The name of the firm comes from Shakespeare – whose wise fools both instructed and amused and could speak the truth to the king without getting their heads chopped off! As they describe their culture, "it is as irreverent as our name." But don't miss the point that this band of "motley fools" makes up a highly successful investment company.

Here are their values:
· Be foolish!
· Collaborate – Do great things together.
· Innovate – Search for a better solution. Then top it!
· Fun – Revel in your work.
· Honest – Make us proud.
· Competitive – Play fair, play hard, play to win.
· Motley – Make Foolishness your own. Share your own core value. _________

The last one on this list is such a great idea. They ask each Fool (that's what they call their employees) to fill in the core value they bring to the organization!

Motley Fool was recently named by Glass Door as the best medium-sized company to work for – all on the basis of interviews with current employees.

We recently heard Lee Burbage, People Fool [M1]at The Motley Fool, speak to a room full of HR professionals who seemed amazed to hear that the company has no time off policy--employees can "take what they need." Of course we all were wondering how such a radical idea would work, and wouldn't people take huge amounts of time off all the time? ”How does the work get done,” we asked. Well, the answer is that "fools treat themselves, their company and their co-workers with fairness and respect--so the management is pretty sure fools will not abuse such a wonderfully foolish benefit." And, if someone does misuse the trust the company puts in them, it becomes a management issue. I love that they trust their employees, and it sounds like the employees trust the management as well!

They don't really have a dress code – just some things that are unacceptable, including Viking helmets with strapless gowns, plaid with polka dots, and more than three colors not found in nature! You have to love that!

The Motley Fool believes in developing its employees and that continuous learning is essential to their staff and to the organization. They don't just support development--they expect it. And, to that end, they have a corporate university with topics including everything from communication and computer skills to improvisation and golf classes!

The company offers generous benefits, including PAID maternity and paternity leave. They have a wide variety of clubs for employees, to encourage people to spend time together participating in activities such as reading books, bowling, watching movies, and more. They have an amazing recognition program that encourages employees to gift money or prizes to co-workers. And they even subsidize pet insurance--because, as they put it on their website, "sometimes the most important person in your life isn't a person."

Here is what I find most interesting – they know that their culture isn't right for everyone. Therefore, they do a great job in recruiting so that any applicant is fully aware of their culture and the possibility that they may see the CEO riding a scooter around the office someday! Motley Fool is a little crazy and zany–and it is a highly flexible organization that changes often. But the company's employee turnover is extremely low because they do a really good job of selecting people who will thrive in their culture. One thing they are clear about (and we wrote about this in The Big Book of HR) is that great people like to work with other great people, so they take time to hire the right person and work hard to engage and retain them.

Lee Burbage shared that the leadership at Motley Fool works very hard to keep their employees engaged in jobs they love and a mission they support, and left us with a challenge that I now pass it along to you:

"Our goal is that you consider the kind of organization you are creating and make your culture an intentional and deliberate part of your business strategy."
[M1]Per their website

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