Changing Culture, In Small, Meaningful Ways: A Profile of Chris Hawker, CEO of Small Software
I’d never thought about employees as being a company’s “first customer,” until I spoke with Chris Hawker, CEO of Small Software.
Chris is an inventor, entrepreneur and life coach who has been leading creative teams for two decades, and, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he and team member Tanner Clayton, CTO recognized that software they’d been designing and developing could be used for covid-tracing and symptom tracking.
“We wanted to help people,” Chris told me. Even though covid-tracing quickly became a thing of the past, Chris and Tanner found that the communications system they’d created had become an invaluable resource for their customers.
“The software kept evolving as a very powerful communications tool that can support caring communication between and among large groups of people, directly, via text or email.”
It felt really important to be speaking with a technology company CEO who understood that culture ought to be, and is, at the heart of communication. Chris stressed that every company’s success is dependent on their ability to retain, support, and value their talent. I get that. In fact, I think any Philadelphian gets that. After all, Philadelphia, a city that places love at its center, has always been a place that prioritizes people over profits.
Chris knows that fostering a spirit of community and connection and placing people at the center of every organization is essential. In addition to being the CEO and creative genius behind Small Software, and the founder of Next Level Trainings, Philadelphia, Chris is a life coach who has worked with thousands of people to improve their quality of life, both personally and professionally. It’s no wonder he was so excited to tell me about how Small Software has incorporated simple, yet useful, happiness surveys. By taking employees’ emotional pulses, Small Software has found a way to ensure that managers and owners know whether or not their employees are feeling positive and optimistic about their work and their workplaces. The cost of turnover can be exorbitant, draining, demoralizing and hard to recover from, but when companies invest in creating a culture that places people at the heart of their organization, employees not only stay, they care and they contribute.
“We don't try to automate the human element of interaction,” Chris explained. “Small Software is a way to mass produce and to automate caring communications that really impact teammates, but it’s not a strategy. It's a tool to implement the strategy, which is pay attention and care about your employees and show that personal touch and connection.”
Since its launch, Small Software has been focusing on serving large businesses with widespread locations and a disparate employee base, such as franchise operations, but there are applications for almost any organization that wants to encourage efficient and empathetic communication. When he walked me through the app demo, I was immediately struck by how intuitive and practical it is. What employer doesn’t want to be able to send texts to their employees? And what employee doesn’t want to be able to communicate with their supervisors, teammates and human resource personnel easily and make requests that they’re sure will be heard and prioritized? What employee doesn’t want to feel valued? And what company doesn’t understand that the most profitable organizations are those that prioritize people?
In this City of Sibling Love, we need more CEOs like Chris Hawker, who are finding ways to support companies in treating their employees like customers, and more companies like Small Software, that are using technology to optimize our humanity. If you own, or work for a large organization, especially a franchise, I’d encourage you to check out Small Software to learn more.