Positive Workplace Culture at Buffer, With Carolyn Kopprasch – PS031

Buffer Logo for the Positive Workplace Culture PodcastWorkplace culture determines how well people support and serve each other, internal to the organization and external. Buffer, the software company that helps us share and schedule our posts, images and tweets across the various networks has a culture that truly walks the talk of positivity, transparency and self-improvement. Carolyn Kopprasch of the Happiness Team at Buffer shares her experience of working at Buffer and what she loves about it.

Episode Introduction

Positive Workplace Culture with Buffer's Customer Happiness Officer, Carolyn Kopprasch (Photo)Carolyn Kopprasch works at Buffer where she’s part of the Customer Happiness Team. Carolyn talks with Positivity Strategist’s Robyn Stratton-Berkessel about positive workplace culture and customer experience.  In our conversation, we focus on the top three values that support Buffer’s culture: “Choose Positivity”; “Default to Transparency”; and “Focus on Self-Improvement.”

Not only do I totally love and depend on my Buffer App to help manage my social media sharing, I am totally admiring of Buffer’s culture.  My history with Buffer goes back about four years.  Back then, I emailed a support question, and, when I received a warm response offering a solution to my issue within a very short timeframe, I was so delighted that I emailed back, to say how happy they made me feel.  Over time, I started to dig around and found out that Buffer’s modus operandi was not only about progressing their product and service, but also the happiness of its users and the Buffer team.

Gratitude is Central to Buffer’s Culture

The one word that best captures working at Buffer for Carolyn Kopprasch is “gratitude”.  During our conversation, Carolyn explains very clearly why ‘gratitude’ is central to her working at Buffer.

Positive Workplace Culture and Gratitude ImageGratitude is, in fact, central to Buffer’s culture. It’s one of the company’s 10 values. She’s grateful for the team she works with; they work remotely all over the world; they express gratitude to each other, and there’s a lot of love in the team.

When it comes to customers, gratitude extends deep and wide. She says:  “We get to do this [work] because of our customers!”

Listen in to a couple of great stories that Carolyn shares about how gratitude is a two-way street – how all Buffer team members show gratitude to the customers and how the customers show gratitude to Buffer. An example of this reciprocation happened when customer accounts were hacked and Buffer received an outpouring of appreciation about how well Buffer handled the situation.

Three Good Reads from Buffer Blog

Buffer-Values For A Positive Workplace CultureBuffer not only supports its customers with social media scheduling in a very easy way for people like you and me and businesses as well, it also provides a lot of great marketing and human development resources through its blogs.  In the links below you can read three really great posts: 1) the 10 Buffer Values; 2) about happiness and positivity in the organization;  and 3) how it recently acquired its own domain name to buffer.com (it will be transitioning from its original name, bufferapp.com).

Evolving as an Organization

One constant in Buffer is change. Growth has been steady and finding the best way to organize a remote workforce has been an exciting journey. Tools to keep the whole team and the smaller teams together are key. Carolyn talks about a number of these in our conversation.

Self-managing teams is how work gets done at Buffer.  Inspired by Reinventing Organizations by Frederick Laloux, Buffer is designed as a Teal Organization. The members of each team can contribute to other teams so that all are contributing ideas across the whole organization, whether they are part of the Happiness Team or Production Team or Product Team, or whatever, so ideas mingle and mesh together.

Positive Workplace Culture and Values at Buffer

Carolyn provides terrific insights into the first three values at Buffer. She explains how “kindness” was a core value from the beginning and then explains how the existing 10 values came into being.

We talk in some detail about the first three.

Choose Positivity  

Being happy is a choice.  You can make every individual moment count. In every situation – even the challenges – there is something to be appreciated. Struggles can be blessings.

Listen in to examples and how Carolyn makes the distinctions between positivity and happiness;  positivity and joy; and positivity and gratitude.

Default to transparency

Buffer is reknown for its transparency and openness. It shares everything about its revenues, salaries, performance with the public, unless it’s not possible because a third party may request something not be disclosed, as in the price that was paid to the entity that sold buffer the domain name buffer.com

Internally, all emails are open to all, as are all other transactions and communications.

Focus on self-improvement

Everyone in the organizations has self-improvement goals which are shared openly.  Team members form into pairs each week and daily they account to each other about the progress of their self-improvement goals.

A number of the goals are common to everyone, such as getting good and enough sleep, daily physical exercise, and healthy eating to name three. Then there are the individual self-improvement goals which the pairs support each other on to help them stay on track.

One of the great benefits of the accountability pairs, according to Carolyn, is that you really get to know your other team members since you communicate daily for a week while you are helping each other with individual goals. It also adds to the value of transparency. You open yourself to your different partner each week.

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Download Carolyn's suggested “positive activities” for this episode: Hint: It’s about accessing resources to increase your positivity, and focussing on gratitude.

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Other Valuable Insights

Buffer uses a tool call Small Improvements to help give feedback to each other.  Within Buffer, they call it feedforward because it has a forward focus. A delightful outcome of using this tool is a feature called “Give Kudos, Give Praise”.  It’s this feature that gets used the most.

Culture is unique to every organization. Therefore, it’s not about replicating one organization’s culture because it works for them into another organization. Even though the “Buffer Way” will not work for everyone, Carolyn does suggest that there are some aspects about the culture at Buffer that may be helpful to others and people may learn from Buffer’s experience to establish their own positive workplace culture.

Wouldn’t It Be Cool If…

Buffers Pablo App - Helping Positive Workplace CultureIf you have a desire to introduce something new at work, Carolyn suggests you just talk to each other.  Changes evolve over time and can be started by one person suggesting to another: “Wouldn’t it be cool if …” and it may catch on.  Change doesn’t happen by decree.

The new Pablo App, just recently launched was created by a Buffer team member. Pablo enables users to post to their social sites content with images and quotes. I am using it, and it works gorgeously.  As a photographer, I can use my own images with my favorite quotes or inspirational messages. I am getting more retweets with such tweets.  Thank you, again, Buffer Team!

If you have a creative idea, the message is: try it on small scale. If it succeeds and brings joy then go for it

Parting Evidence of Living with Gratitude

When I inquired of Carolyn if Buffer has many people knocking at their door wanting to joining them, Carolyn, with the greatest congruence, responded:

“We’re very lucky that people want to join us, and please the invitation is there.”

Links Mentioned In This Episode

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