GREYSTONE TECHNOLOGY is a local Information Technology (IT) outsourcing firm. Currently with 85 employees, they’ve been growing at a rapid clip for over a decade.

I had a chance to sit down with Peter Melby recently, who owns the company along with Jesse Armstrong. They formed the business in 2001 with the idea that this would be a fun and motivating environment for employees.

Which is what they’ve built. But there’s so much more to the story.

Technology companies are known for coddling employees, from free lunches to Foosball tables to Nerf guns. It became a part of the culture back in the 1990s, but perceptive leaders understand that these benefits are more the result of a company culture than a cause.

Jesse Armstrong and Peter Melby

Peter explained this well. Greystone is driven by business goals to do increasingly exciting things, for more people, always increasing the satisfaction of customers and benefit to their companies.

To do that, they need a grounded and cohesive team which is customer-focused, highly productive, and creative.

When they focus on this over the long term, this becomes the company culture. Employees are shown the degree of directed autonomy which is supported, along with the mature accountability expected from everybody in the company.

A key part of making this work is Greystone’s practice of psychological safety, as they explain:

Autonomy in a growing company works when our team shares real information openly. If you fear failure and punishment to the extent that you hide or ignore your challenges, then autonomy fails. We need awareness inside the company and psychological safety within key relationships to make our team successful.

Over the years, they’ve discovered that fun isn’t the goal. In itself, fun doesn’t actually create a successful and sustainable business. Instead, they’ve designed a company system which can produce their goals of growth, profitability, and customer value.

When they are clear on how they’re doing this consistently and systematically, that reinforces the growth of the company culture.

Most importantly, that includes who they hire, fire, and promote. And how they set goals and reward people for success.

Having fun is certainly one of the results, as you can see when you interact with them. But so also are productivity, customer value, and credibility.

One of the challenges they’re dealing with, common in the industry, is geographical dispersion. Right now they have offices in Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins, which are within driving distance of each other.  Their clients largely have Colorado connections, but it’s not uncommon for their work to take them around the country – sometimes around the world.

So far the team is close enough together that they can physically meet each other, but that will get harder. That’s why Peter and Jesse have worked so hard on clearly articulating how the company runs, so that every person in the company is consistent about its values, goals, and key processes.

When you do that, then people have the opportunity to flourish and be creative to best contribute to the company’s success.