Creating Better Places to Work: 6 Lessons Learned

Equality Careers

In this blog post our colleague, Meesha Gerhart, Owner and CEO of Redtree WebDesign shares 6 lessons learned from hosting the W.E. Talk Podcast and running Redtree Web Design.


It’s Women’s History Month! As a result, I’ve been thinking more and more about women in the workplace and how to create safe, equal environments for women to work. 


One thing I’ve learned over the years: I have a different perspective on leadership from most people. As the host of the women-in-business podcast W.E. Talk and the CEO of the all-women company at Redtree Web Design, I’ve had the advantage of learning from brilliant leaders how to build a business and an enthusiastic, resilient team. 


I’m constantly hearing great ideas on how to foster a better company for all people, so I’ll share them here!

3 Leadership Lessons Learned From Hosting the W.E. Talk Podcast

Here are some of the best lessons I’ve picked up while running W.E. Talk every two weeks over the last year:

1. Create A Place Where Your People Belong

Many of the women entrepreneurs I talk to started their business for one of two reasons:


  1. They were sick of working in a toxic environment.
  2. They couldn’t find a place where they felt like they fit, so they made that place on their own. 


If you can’t foster a workplace where your team members feel valued, accepted, and protected, you could very well lose your best employees—the people with the biggest ideas, the most potential, and endless amounts of drive. 

2. Invest In Your People

One of the best sources of business ROI is investing in your own people. When you pay your people well and consistently train them to improve, you develop a team that’s dedicated to your goals and that wants to stick around for the long haul. 


That means less employee turnover, less time spent training new employees, and more time spent on high-value business objectives. 


One of the most powerful lessons I’ve taken from the 50+ episodes we’ve done of W.E. Talk came from Yvonne Campos of the Next Act Fund, which invests in businesses and startups. When reflecting on the early days of her first business, here’s what she said: 


“If money is tight and I have tough decisions to make, you think I’m going to pay rent or pay my people? You’d better bet I’m paying my people.”


That leads us to another point: Pay your people well. There’s no reason for leadership to make millions when people who make that possible earn minimum wage. For most companies that are profitable, there are plenty of opportunities to pay their people better. 

3. Focus On Your Community

Focus on your team as much as you focus on your customers. When you make your team feel connected to each other, to leadership, and to the company as a whole, you can reduce employee turnover and increase engagement on a daily basis. 

3 Lessons Learned on the All-Women Team At Redtree Web Design

Here are three more principles I’ve learned while leading the all-women team at Redtree Web Design over the last eight years: 

1. Prevent Burnout At the Source

In the agency world—and many other industries—burnout among team members is common. 


But I’m reminded of a line from my interview with Lisa Story, the founder of Hope Grows: “Burnout is the result of value misalignment.”


When your position aligns with your values and passions, you’re more likely to thrive. 


That’s why I personally spend as little time as possible in Redtree Web Design’s “middle management”; I’m much better at expressing the company vision, then spending my time focusing on sales. 


I take a similar approach with my team: We create very specific positions, then hire passionate individuals to fill those roles. And once they’re in, we provide additional training to encourage their curiosity and feed that passion. 


Remember: Work is important, but so is life. Your employees shouldn’t need to regularly spend more than 40 hours per week at the office just to make ends meet. 

2. Make Sure Every Voice Is Valued

One of my biggest goals is to create an environment where everyone has a voice and everyone feels respected.


Whether you’re a brand new intern or a seasoned developer, you deserve to have your voice heard. 


My tactic is simple: I ask for your opinion from day one. Whether it’s a private meeting or a group brainstorming session, I always focus on pulling information out of new team members. 


Eventually, they feel bold enough (and, more importantly, safe enough) to speak their mind and offer their perspective.

3. Foster A Community of Collaboration

As an extension of valuing communication, we also focus on collaboration—especially when it comes to training. Our team members are tasked with continued training and teaching the rest of the Redtree team about the new and interesting content they’re covering. 


Coincidentally, this philosophy of collaboration feeds directly into our culture of learning, which then feeds back into the tenet we discussed in the previous section: Invest in your people. 

Final Thoughts On Creating Better Work Environments

Creating an equal community ultimately comes down to one thing: respect. 


How we respect the individual says everything about a company’s culture, its values, and its overall mission. 


When we respect the individual through consistent training, frequent collaboration, constant communication, and fair pay, we foster environments where people are excited to clock in and give their all every day.


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