How Cathy of Metis Communications uses Know Your Company

Cathy Atkins is a co-founder of Metis Communications, an integrated communications agency based in Boston. However, she lives in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, so she sees her team only seven or eight days a month.

Despite the distance from headquarters, Cathy has spent her time at Metis building a rapport with her team so they can “do their best work ever,” which is the company’s mission. In addition, the Metis team has a hybrid workplace approach – the team can work both in the office and remotely.

Cathy’s agency, Metis Communications, now has a 20-member team, but it was half that size only two years ago. The company decided to scale, and at around 15 people, Cathy recognized that “we didn’t know everyone as much as we used to.”

A little over a year ago, she turned to Know Your Company. Since then, we’ve spoken with Cathy several times and have been impressed with her success in getting to know her company better.

Based on her success, I wanted to share Cathy’s story and how you might be able to apply her best practices to your own company.

Summary: Here are the key takeaways of what makes Cathy successful

(1) Act on feedback and follow up with employees right away.

(2) Use Know Your Company to confirm your decisions.

(3) Explain the benefits of Know Your Company to your employees.

(4) Collaborate with your leadership team to write great questions.

(5) Share the responsibility of responding to feedback with your leadership team.

Acts on feedback immediately / follows up with employees right away to show she cares

“About a month or so ago, we asked the office chair question: would you like a new office chair? Five or six people said that they would love a standing desk. So we got two standing desks right away. We actually talked about this example recently in the Wall Street Journal, when a reporter interviewed us about pulse surveys.

We love to show our employees that we’re listening – even when they have hard feedback to hard questions. And even if only one or two people answer, we always make a point to circle back around and do it very quickly to show them that we care.

Usually it’s just a follow-up conversation. We’ll send an email and say, ‘Let’s grab 10 minutes to talk about your Know Your Company answer.’”

Uses Know Your Company to confirm decisions

“In the past, we would have a lot of discussions as owners and as a management team about initiatives that we wanted to roll out. We would spend a lot of time making it perfect.

Now, instead of just wondering and talking about ‘should we do this?’ or ‘should we do that?’ we just ask. We have company validation or dissent if we choose to do something. For everything from a company outing, to a meeting, to tools, to workflow, to benefits, we go through Know Your Company first.”

For example, if our content director has a question that she wants to ask the team, then she’ll ask if we can pose a question on Know Your Company. Anyone that’s looking for group consensus on something can do the same thing.”

Explains the benefits of Know Your Company to her employees

“At first, we made it clear that it wasn’t mandatory. We weren’t promoting it very much. But then after talking to some other folks early on in the pilot, we realized we really needed to talk it up a lot more.

We explained to our employees that for someone who is remotely working three days a week, seeing their teammates’ email responses to Company and Social Questions could help ground them in the day-to-day activities that they might not experience outside of the office. It’s a great opportunity for the team to bond on a great answer, and it doesn’t require a water cooler to do so.”

Collaborates with the leadership team to write great questions

“The four of us as a leadership team are really driving this. I get the updates (Company Question reminders). If there’s a question that I think might be somewhat sensitive or if someone has a timely question, then I’ll share that one with the team and vice-versa.

For example, when we were in the middle of planning our holiday outing, our senior vice president of account services changed the Company Question to, ‘What was your favorite Metis outing and why?’ Even if it’s not a yes or no answer, the team is happy to answer the question.

Shares responsibility of responding to feedback with the leadership team

“If there’s a question that we feel we need to address right away, it’s really whoever jumps on it first. We ask, ‘Who’s going to take this on? What do we need to do?’ Once the action takes place, the management team then notes it under the person in Know Your Company. This way, everyone has immediate access to the conversation, the course of action, and any next steps. This is a real benefit to using Know Your Company. As a result of this feature, all team member correspondence – whether it’s a Know Your Company answer, side conversation, review, anything – is recorded as a note in Know Your Company.”

Remember that it’s never as bad as you think it is

“If you have a question, just ask your team. Just when you think things might be bad or that you’ll get a negative reaction, they’re really not as bad as you think, or the team will come together and kind of rally around you. There are a lot of things that would surprise you based on this freedom, this structure in which you allow people to answer questions.”

To recap: Here’s how you can apply what Cathy does to your own company

(1) Act on feedback and follow up with employees right away.

(2) Use KYC to confirm your decisions.

(3) Explain the benefits of Know Your Company to your employees.

(4) Collaborate with your leadership team to write great questions.

(5) Share the responsibility of responding to feedback with your leadership team.

Some custom Company Questions that Cathy has been asking…

If you had your choice, how often would you want to work outside of the office?

Would you rather have your performance review done once a year?

Do you think we should continue the remote working experiment?

What do you want to be known for in the industry?

Some custom Social Questions that Cathy has been asking…

What does your Metis superhero alias mean?

What is your favorite PR quote, rule or piece of advice?

Author's portrait Join our community The Watercooler