Growing Startups as Beehives

Working at a startup is busy. At times, the office resembles a beehive. Like worker bees following some invisible choreography, employees swarm from project to project. Constantly in development of code, internal, or client deliverables, we are always “on”. 

Perhaps also like bees, we don’t often take the time to reflect on our accomplishments, our fellow bees’ efforts, or the progress of our growing hive. A common critique of millennials is that they all feel that they deserve a trophy for showing up–I would argue that millennials should also give out trophies. Thus, I had an idea:

The NovoEd Oscars


Sylvan Zhang impresses the NovoEd staff with his card tricks

Over the past two years, I have led a company event called the ‘NovoEd Academy Awards’.  The entire company dresses up and we strut down a cheap vinyl red carpet, in front of paparazzi (our office photographer, Jade). At the event, everyone waits anxiously for the chance to win a NovoEd Oscar and give an acceptance speech. Each year, we try to outdo the last event with more glitz, glamour, and entertainment. We embrace this opportunity to involve more people in planning it, and it is a showcase for our creative energy. This year’s ceremony featured these new elements:

  • A magic show performed by our intern, the spell-binding Sylvan Zhang
  • Humorous award choices including best ‘Stand-up’ update, best ‘Office gif maker’, and the hilarious ‘Caleb Phillips Lifetime Achievement Award” (Phillips, a shorthand teacher who taught by correspondence in the 1700’s, was the pioneer of distance learning)
  • A commercial, featuring a colleague’s newborn baby, who is advised to use NovoEd to support her struggle to maintain focus at work

In a commercial, Charlie advises his newborn to use NovoEd, designed for the next generation of learners.

While, the entire company was entertained, what was more important is that quality work was recognized.  The ceremony featured awards such as ‘Best Course Design Element’, ‘Best Cross-Team Collaboration’, and ‘Best Product Feature’. The award winners represented individuals and teams working together. While we all work together every day, we don’t always fully understand the details of the contribution of our colleagues. The Oscars ceremony provided more visibility into the different ways our colleagues make our hive function.

Take the Time for Recognition

As you’re caught up in your day to day busyness (or buzziness, as the case may be), don’t forget to take the time to recognize the individuals and team efforts that really make your organization work. You don’t need to put together an over-the-top awards ceremony to do that–even a few words of recognition after successful efforts can go a long way in making your hive a little sweeter.