Building an atmosphere of collaboration is a key component to building a culture where people can thrive. Organizations with a strong culture of collaboration continually work on effective communication throughout the entire organization. They equip every employee with the necessary information for them to succeed and likely have an office layout that promotes a sense of community and interaction. This is exactly what I found when I visited the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) National Campus in Lake Nona.
The Human Resources director, Marybeth Interdonato, and Corporate Communications leader Trina Singian both enthusiastically met me in the lobby to take me up to the corporate offices for a tour. This office is nothing short of amazing! It is an open floor plan set up in what they call “neighborhoods.” Each of these neighborhoods represents a different department, but they are all open to everyone to promote collaboration where people can easily work in a cross-functional capacity. Within the space, there are built-in designated areas with comfortable seating where people can gather to meet, brainstorm, plan, etc. Healthy snacks also are provided free for all employees as an extra, added benefit.
The great culture that exists at the campus does not stop with the office space. Marybeth and her team work very hard to make sure the working environment is exciting and everyone is well informed. This starts with their stated Service Standards & Behavioral Guidelines – four key standards that guide everything they do, every day. These standards are visible throughout the building and also are on a card that every employee has with them at all times. These standards and behavioral guidelines are: (1) Safety: We consider the welfare of our employees and guests first; (2) Friendliness: We provide a caring and inclusive atmosphere where everyone is treated as an individual; (3) Experience: We promote an engaging and memorable environment for guests and employees; and (4) Efficiency: We strive for our efforts to be simple, easy and hassle-free. To them, it’s not only about the employee experience but the guest experience as well. Along with keeping the four standards front and center, they also make sure everyone has the tools necessary to answer any question that a guest might have.
Employee support also is valued at the USTA National Campus. Peer-to-peer recognition cards are used for employees to recognize their colleagues for going above and beyond in their work. Employees are not only recognized through these cards, but their names go into a drawing to receive a reward of value each month. Business Resource Groups, or BRGs, support various affinities. These groups include: African/Caribbean-American Employee (ACE) Network, Asian-American, Latino/Hispanic, Millennials, Partners-LGBT, Women, and Working Parents. Everyone is welcome to join one or more of these groups where they will find others for the purpose of camaraderie and support.
A great culture also includes having some fun, and the USTA National Campus is certainly good at it! One of the most exciting things they do is their own employee tennis tournament. They call it the GOAT at HOAT (Greatest of All Time at the Home of American Tennis). The tournament is open to every employee at every playing level. They have a lot of fun with this tournament and celebrate the victories (and I’m sure, give each other a hard time for the defeats!).
My short visit to the USTA National Campus proved to be valuable time spent as I witnessed first hand what a truly collaborative culture looks and feels like. I saw people working together (some at their standing desks) in their neighborhoods. I saw people meeting together in various groups in different seating areas. I saw people working independently but right next to each other. I saw smiles – lots of them, because these employees truly enjoy what they do and who they do it with!