Be Like a Bee: 5 Lessons Beekeeping Can Teach us About Work

By | Building a Company, Communication, Culture, Healthy Stuff, Team Member Spotlight | No Comments

My interest in beekeeping started at a farmer’s market. There’s always a booth with local honey at the farmer’s market I love to visit at the beach. When I visited for the first time, I sampled many different types of honey and other bee products. I also got into a conversation with the beekeepers at the booth and found out about the many uses for honey, how it’s made, and about the importance of bees. I was intrigued ever since that day!

My father-in-law loves honey, so whenever I travel, I always pick up local honey from whatever city I visit. After doing this several times, I decided it might be worthwhile to consider keeping bees and harvesting my own honey. That, paired with the fact that my husband has called me “Sue Bee” (the name of a brand of honey) for years, cinched that beekeeping needed to become my hobby.

Bees are fascinating creatures. They live in a colony made up of worker bees, drones, and only one queen bee, and all play a specific role in the survival of the hive. All worker bees are female and literally work themselves to death. They are essential to a colony and have many different roles. To name a few jobs worker bees do:

  • Foragers: These bees leave the hive and bring back pollen and nectar.
  • Nurses: These bees feed larvae, as well as tend to and support the queen.
  • Temperature controllers: These bees ventilate the hive to ensure the honey temperature is right.
  • Builders: These bees keep the hive clean as well as provide wax to construct the hive.
  • Security guards: These bees defend the hive and keep out pests.

Who run the bee world? Girls!!

The male bees are called drones, and their only purpose is to fertilize new queens from another hive. Drones are very lazy, though. They like to stay in the hive and eat honey until the worker bees decide they’ve had enough and kick them out. Once a drone fertilizes a queen, it dies.

There’s also the most important bee in the hive – the queen bee. She’s the only member of the colony who lays fertilized eggs, and the other bees tend to her every need since she keeps the colony growing. She lays about 2,000 eggs a day and lives for 2 to 3 years if the hive stays healthy. Although every bee plays a different role, they’re all doing their jobs for one goal: ensuring survival of the colony.

A bee colony is like a team, with everyone working toward fulfilling a mission. But the hive must be healthy. If it’s not, the bees will leave or not survive (this actually happened with my first colonies). It reminds me a lot of the workplace. If your work environment isn’t healthy, you’re more likely to want to leave. Fortunately, bees can teach us a few lessons we can apply to our own lives.

#1: Trust the bees.

Lack of trust is the cause of many issues in the work environment. Although the bees have many different roles, they demonstrate and can teach us about trust. Bees build trust by taking care of each other and teaching each other. Simply stated, they have each other’s backs. As they develop and grow, they get promoted into bigger roles in their colony. If they run into an emergency, no matter their new role, they can always jump back in and help defend the hive. Bees also make sacrifices for the betterment of the hive. Worker bees die if they attack, as they use their stingers to protect. Drones die after they fertilize a queen. It’s important to trust your team and to make yourself vulnerable. Having trust as the foundation can make a strong, synergistic team.

#2: Don’t be like the drones! Work hard or buzz on out.

Drones have an important role to ensure the success of the bee population. However, most of their life, they just sit around and mooch off the hive while the worker bees are working hard. Drones do not clean the cells, they do not protect the hive, they do not make honey, they do not help with the temperature controls, they do not nurse the babies, and they do not go out and forage. They often stay in the hive, get in the way, and eat on the honey which should be stored up and saved to help the hive survive the winter. In the end, the worker bees kick the drones out once winter arrives.

Honeybees teach us to do our part and to work hard and diligently. Avoid being categorized as a drone and do your part! The Rock makes a good point: “Be humble, be hungry, and always be the hardest worker in the room”. Having that mindset sets you and your team to achieve great things.

#3: Communicate clearly, honey.

Bees communicate through movements and pheromones. In order for bees to let their “teammates” know where a good source of food is, they will do the waggle dance to share the location. If a worker bee uses its stinger, it sends out a smell that alerts the hive of an intruder, so then they all are aware. The queen sends out pheromones to communicate to the hive that she is alive and healthy. They know very quickly when she is not. Clear communication allows the hive to work as one strong operation. Without it, the bees would swarm. In the end, they all do their part to survive. At work, it’s important to communicate effectively and to create and reinforce clarity within your team. Doing this leads to happier team members and sets them up to work in a successful environment.

#4: Bee an advocate.

Bees will defend their hive and protect the queen at all costs. Not only do they secure the hive and have emergency plans in place, but they continue to train each other on the importance of survival. In the workforce, it is important to be an advocate for your company. We must defend against our competitors and continue to produce outstanding results to provide to our customers. Work hard, believe in the mission, live and breathe your company’s core values, and be proud of the company you protect and contribute great success to!

#5: Bee Mindful of the Mission

In the end, bees work hard to survive. Don’t we all? One of their main goals for survival is to produce honey and to continue storing it up to live on. Honey is not an easy product for bees to make. To make it, they swallow a full belly of nectar and then after a while, regurgitate it into a bee cell and control the temperature by flapping their wings to ensure it sets correctly. It’s a long process, however, honey has been around since ancient times and is still praised for its benefits and taste! To name a few benefits: helps relieve seasonal allergies, relieves coughs and colds, serves as an anti-bacterial agent, great for your skin, boosts your memory, provides nutrients to your body, boosts your metabolism, etc. The product is amazing!

We should learn from the bees. We want Daxko to be the ‘golden company’ throughout the health and wellness space, and we are well on our way! Like the bees, having a great, valuable product is important, but it is also important to love what you do and remember why you do it. Working with good people you trust, working hard and doing your part, having healthy communication among your team, and supporting and promoting your company help improve engagement. When you are engaged, you’re likely working in a healthy environment. When you’re working in a healthy environment, you’re likely to stay.

Not only do the bees help our environment, but they also teach us life lessons we can learn from and relate to. Save the bees and thank them for all they do! And if you want to learn more about beekeeping and have colonies of your own, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions.

Susan Walls is Daxko’s People Team Orchestrator who loves Jesus and her husband and daughters, enjoys karaoke and dancing, and likes picking out the perfect outfit for any occasion.

Transparency Means Show Yourself

By | Communication, Culture, Employment Brand, Healthy Stuff, Life at Daxko | One Comment

I’ll confess: I’m a word nerd.

Words are important. How you put something matters, whether that’s in conversation, email, or just in your own head. I’ll often get wrapped up deliberating the right words to use, validating my struggle with that Thomas Mann quote about writers.

In another blog post, I tried pinning down what we talk about when we talk about engagement and how Daxko embodies it. I want to try that with the word transparency in order to see how it guides Team Daxko in what we do every day.

We’re all familiar with the sense that transparent means “clear or see-through.” Our pals at Merriam-Webster define it as “easy to notice or understand.” And most relevant to the business world is this definition: “visibility or accessibility of information.”

At Daxko, transparency is a guiding principle that defines our culture. Transparency is Open Q&As with our CEO and it’s our open-concept collaborative workspaces. But what does transparency look like for individual team members and what they can control in their own day-to-day?

Another definition of transparent that’s closer to what I’m getting at here is “free from pretense or deceit.” And when you slice the word down to its Latin roots – trans + parēre – you get “to show oneself.”

When a company’s culture is defined by transparency, team members feel encouraged to be themselves when they’re at work.

For professional development last month, I took a course on communication strategies. We focused on creating our personal brand and exploring how we can better show ourselves in our work. Ask yourself this: What is your unique selling proposition, and how does your work show who you are, your background, and your talents? Answering that question is easier when you work in a transparent environment because of the implicit invitation to show yourself.

I also think a lot about our team’s brand, about how we show ourselves. The Engagement Solutions Team implements and consults on Daxko Engage and Daxko Mobile, two of Daxko’s engagement tools. How should our team behave given that we stand for building relationships through engaging interactions, that we’re all about meaningful communication? It means we should be and do exactly those things for our customers and for our teammates across the company. Why the heck shouldn’t we have a reputation as an engaging team?

Here are a few things the Engagement Solutions Team has done lately to better show ourselves:

  • Our team is full of creative types, and we’re always looking for ways to use our skills in design, writing, music, videography, and even Excel wizardry to enhance what we do.
  • We started referring to implementation phone calls as conversations—because words are important.
  • At our team pod, we have a board where we highlight a customer’s “Engaging Conversation of the Week” and hold a weekly poll/conversation-starter like, “Is pineapple on pizza an abomination? Y/N.” (It turns out pineapple is not an abomination.)

The work of transparency doesn’t end. It’s a style, a philosophy, and a challenge – whoever you are. As you go through your day, think about how you show yourself in the work you do. Think about the effortless groove you get into when you’re simply being yourself.

There’s always something good cookin’ on the Engagement Solutions Team. Here we are at a recent team building event, where we whipped up a Tropical Tiki Party meal.

Charlie P., Engagement Solutions Team Lead at Daxko, wakes up early for a good long run, a good book, or just because.

What I’ve Learned About Pre-Launch, Post-Launch

By | Communication, Culture, Free Career Advice, Life at Daxko, Talent | No Comments

In February, I moved into a new role on the Implementation team. I am now a Project Manager, helping our Net Ventures customers come over to the Daxko platforms. Coming from our Post Launch team, on the Customer Success team, I felt like I was prepared for the role change. However, having been through some launches, I know now I could never have been fully prepared! I have definitely learned some lessons that I intend to keep in mind through all of my future launches.

First, nobody is perfect. All of the Implementation team has our customers’ best interests at heart, and I know our customers want their launches to go smoothly, but sometimes files get forgotten or misfiled, or someone’s sick when they were supposed to meet a deadline. The important thing to keep in mind is that everyone is trying their best to make sure this project is completed in time without having quality suffer. I think it really helps to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and make sure you have some perspective to what others are going through. Also, giving people the benefit of the doubt when something is not done correctly will help you maintain positive relationships with everyone you come in contact with.

Secondly, plans change. This is usually because of the first lesson, but sometimes unexpected things just come up and you have to go with the flow. Now, as Project Managers, we are pretty limited to how much these plans can change, since we want to have our customers launch on a specific date, but there is always something that can be moved around. Again, we are all trying our best, and as long as we can come up with a new plan, we will still be achieving our goals!

Which leads me to my final thought, which is that flexibility is key! I think this might be the most important lesson I have learned, since it will flow into the other two. As long as everyone is a team player, and all have the same goals, we can make our dreams of using the Daxko software come true!

Kelsi G. is a Project Manager who loves exploring Birmingham with her husband, hanging out with her two crazy cats, and drinking craft beer.

Spring Training

By | Building a Company, Communication, Culture, Free Career Advice, Grow Your Career, Talent | No Comments

There have been some great posts to the Culture Blog recently by relatively new team members, which is so great to see! 

As a Daxko “veteran”of 16 years, I am still grateful for the career, the growth, and the new challenges that come with being part of the Daxko Nation. In the past year, I have had the great pleasure to work much more closely with our People Team. My greatest focus during that time has been collaborating on Team Lead development. As Daxko grows, we are shifting away from star performers who take on team lead responsibilities in addition to their work. In order to get to the next level, we need talented Team Leads who are passionate about developing high-performing, healthy teams. And that is their work. 

Team Lead work is not for everyone. Some people may think that being a Team Lead is a critical rung on the proverbial ladder of success. That’s not true. What makes us successful in our careers is that we love what we do, we are recognized for good work, and we are fairly compensated for the value we provide the company.  Many Daxko team members are absolute rock stars in their own right, and their career path will take them further down the path of expert software developer, major account sales, or critical account management. One of the worst mistakes Senior Leaders make is to take a rock star who loves what they do, and put them in charge of people, when their passion is the work, not the team. But for people who are gifted at the relational aspect of leadership, bringing together a high-performing team is probably the most rewarding work they’ll ever do. And every team member at Daxko, from those just starting out to those who are way down their rock star career path, will benefit from great leadership. 

On Tuesday, we spent an entire day off-site doing “Spring Training” for Daxko Team Leads. We focused on ways to develop a heightened sense of self awareness and social awareness. We broke into small groups and had lots of discussion on understanding our own emotional triggers, how to manage them, how to recognize them in others, and how to manage those. One of the most insightful take-aways from that session (thank you, Charlie Peters!) was that we need to take the time to respond, not react– and they are different. 

Our afternoon was filled with group work facilitated by Melva Tate. The topic was improving communication across teams. A few things became evident in that session: 

  • We all need to remember our responsibility as “Chief Communication Officer” for our teams.
  • We could use more clarity on which communication channels to use and when.
  • Clearer instructions need to be given on when and how to cascade information.
  • Communication skills like brevity, organization, focus, and action are lacking in some areas.
  • Some communication processes between teams need to be established (e.g. Infrastructure Team getting more lead time from Product).
  • Everyone would benefit from a more holistic view of Daxko and what different teams do, so we can better understand interdependencies.
  • Discussion about exercises involving multiple balls would make a great Kick-Off sketch! (you can thank me later) 

We have more work to do to come up with solves for our communication challenges, so more to come on that. If you are interested in being part of the communication solution, come see me any time! My “door” is always open.

April B. is Daxko’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. She enjoys historical fiction, foreign films, good food, and her career at Daxko.