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The expectation of collaboration
February 16, 2012
DeLisa Alexander, Executive Vice President & Chief People Officer
I believe that the future success for businesses to attract and retain top talent relies on a more open management and leadership approach. The workforce is evolving and the new employee is part of a major change affecting not only how we hire and who we hire, but how our companies operate on a basic level. It’s especially prevalent in the new generation entering the workforce. Generation Y is very different when compared to the Baby Boomers and even Generation X as they want to contribute immediately and they expect to be able to fundamentally participate in their company. By putting control in the hands of your employees, you earn yourself a more interested, engaged, higher performing, and innovative workforce who feel like their work means something. Since Red Hat’s inception, we have long subscribed to these principles of leadership though transparency and collaboration. For us, this is directly related to the open source way of doing things.
You can see this change today in businesses in all industry groups. People want to see how their contributions to projects and work makes an impact. Think about how quickly things like Wikipedia, threadless.com, Yelp, and Red Hat’s very roots- Linux - progress. What you see, buy, and use is driven by the community because they have a vested interest in making it a success. It’s that simple. It’s no wonder that people growing up with these technologies and communities engaging to create things want to do the same in their job. Imagine an entire workforce wanting to be involved from the bottom up because they genuinely care about making a difference. I believe we’re past the days of “paying your dues” over the years just to be heard. We’ve found that some of the best ideas come from the new employees with new perspectives, as well as those who have been with the company since the beginning. And it’s this attitude and commitment that come from every level in the organization, regardless of title or position.
Red Hat is mission-based, we’re global, and we’re publicly traded. What may seem like a normal business to most people is very different internally because of how we work. This way of working is different from the work environments many employees have experienced before. Collaboration amongst employees is essential to getting things done, but the type of collaboration that sets our culture apart is much bigger. “Release early, release often” is a principle closely held by open source software developers who want to get feedback on their work quickly so they can improve it quickly. We believe one of the reasons we have been so successful is because we live by this mantra. By encouraging this meritocracy, the natural leaders step up, the smartest and most able can get their ideas out and be heard. Red Hat is a place where decisions, even company-wide decisions on things like strategy, goals, direction, and our mission statement are decided by the people in collaboration with upper management. All opinions are valued. With open source software, you often see innovations long before you see them in closed development environments. Open source culture is very much the same. The type of worker with the attitude and culture that you find at Red Hat demands a different leadership style based on open source principles. They feel ownership and expect company-wide collaboration. It’s this type of worker that will be coming in to all jobs, in all markets, in the future. That culture, while already pervasive here at Red Hat, is the new face of the employee of the future.
As time goes by, the number of these new workers entering the workforce is only going to grow over time. These new employees have a vested interest in work that means something to them. It’s more than a paycheck; it’s a vested interest of success. That means getting that next piece of code written, getting the project done, advancing the culture of the company, deciding where the company goes next, and loving every minute of it. Sharing the path to success will be the leading way to achieve success. We see this new generation and the world at large are moving more and more toward the open source way in expectations and actions. Companies hiring in the near future are challenged to create an environment that fosters collaboration and transparency. They must do so to stay relevant.