Over the last 4 years, we’ve spent thousands of hours building the culture at SlashData, one step at a time. There is no better picture of the culture than the values that underpin it. In this article, I strip SlashData bare, describing in great detail our values and the behaviours that underscore them, that is the blueprint for our culture, who we are, and what guides our behaviour.
In his book Traction, Gino Wickman describes values as “a small set of vital and timeless principles for your company…These core values define your culture and who you truly are as people”.
Values guide a number of important activities at SlashData:
– Hiring: Every person that we hire has to be a good fit for our culture. No fit, no hire, even for the highest of performers. We never sacrifice the cultural fit to hire primadonnas. I’ve made many mistakes hiring people based on performance, thinking that their cultural fit will improve over time.
– Reviews: Every six months we assess performance and cultural fit for every team member. We offer guidance on where to improve, how to tap into your hidden strengths, and whether you are observing the company values. We used to have a bonus scheme for how closely a team member would observe values, but we’ve made that depend on performance only for a simple reason. If you’re not observing our values, that’s a deal-breaker, our relationship is not going to work out.
– Benefits: Among other benefits, we award people for every year they’ve been with us. The list of benefits is informed by our values; awards include ways for team members to contribute to a charitable cause, to take up a new learning course
– How we work with customers: we treat our customers with the same respect, dependability and attentiveness as we treat our colleagues.
– Business decisions: Our 3-year business strategy is informed primarily from helping people grow, not from returning a profit to the business. People growth comes before profit, and profit comes before revenues. We’re not VC-backed, so we don’t have to return astronomical growth just because a VC partner asked. Profit takes precedence over revenues, making sure that we run a business that can function well and can spend time on developing people and having fun together. And people growth takes precedence over profit. For people to grow, their role has to grow, and as a small company, that means our business needs to grow to create new opportunities for our team members.
What are the values and the behaviours that underscore them? Here’s the full, unfiltered list. If you ‘re competing with us, go ahead and copy us. And if you like what you see come and join us.
- We ‘re a team of high performers.
- We pay attention to detail, always striving to deliver top quality work.
- We are adaptable: as part of a growing team, we try out new things, we create new processes, and we adapt ourselves as the needs of the business change.
- We focus on what’s important and stick with it. We define our team and individual goals every year and every quarter so that every team and everyone knows what to focus on.
- Each of us has their own, effective system for organising their work on a daily and weekly basis.
- We continue raising the bar with every new person joining the team – every person we hire has to be better than the average of the team.
- We start with the end in mind: to get to the bottom of the issue, we start with what we are trying to accomplish.
- We trust each other to be dependable and deliver on our shared goals.
- We deliver to our clients as we committed so that they continue to trust us.
- Each of us assumes responsibility and doesn’t blame others or the system.
- We play like a sports team. If I score and the team loses, I have lost.
- We strive to grow as individuals, both personally and professionally, to realise our full potential.
- We are restless to take the company to the next level.
- We invest in our personal development by reading books, attending courses, seminars and conferences.
- We learn from our projects by running post-mortems and understand what went well, what went wrong and what we can improve next time.
- Errors and issues are there to help us improve. With each issue that we spot, we fix the process so that the issue doesn’t happen again.
- We are a diverse team and value the uniqueness of each individual. We like to learn from each others’ experiences and perspectives.
- We treat every challenge as an opportunity, whether it’s about people or projects.
- We challenge our assumptions and the way we do things.
Play as a team (was fun)
- We help each other out when in need.
- We are dependable and accountable. We agree and we commit.
- Once a year at our team event we spend 2-3 days in strictly no working time together to have fun, create memories and bond.
- The entire team gets to meet and catch up once a week on video.
- We strive to maintain a positive, fun and engaging place to work.
- We hire people that we are proud to work with, people that we can have fun with solving complex challenges together.
- We take time out to get to know each other, create friendships and enjoy the moment.
- We are kind to our team members. We are thoughtful. We are compassionate.
- We support our team members when they come to us for help
- We welcome and support new team members. We have an extensive onboarding process, helping each new member acclimatise and feel comfortable.
- We trust & respect each other, even if we have different opinions.
- We practice flexitime around our core working hours, allowing everyone in the team to manage their work/life balance.
- We actively listen and practise empathy. We take the time to listen to what someone is trying to say – and understand how they feel – rather than thinking how we will respond.
- We criticise in private, we praise in public. Always.
- We are transparent with every aspect of the company’s operations, except for financial information. That information is available from the day someone joins our company.
- We are clear in our communication. We make sure everyone has understood, and has been understood.
- We share feedback for each other immediately – within hours or days, not holding it back for months.
- When there is a conflict, we are transparent about stating how we feel, good or bad
- We systematically communicate with the whole team where we stand with respect to our goals and tasks
- We communicate proactively when things don’t go as planned. If a task is likely to be late we give adequate notice to our colleagues or clients – as much notice as the delay.
Data driven (Data driven)
- Data beats opinions in every argument and in every decision.
- Any investment that we make is measurable – so that we always know what to do more of and less of.
- We ask the questions to help us understand what drives the business forward.
- We measure the efficiency of our major meetings, how well our managers are doing, and through bi-annual staff feedback reviews, we measure how well the company is doing for the team.
- We listen to our customers’ needs every day and we measure customer needs every six months.
Every Voice Matters
- Everyone in the team has a right to express their opinion on how the company works or should work.
- We have regular internal reviews where everyone can voice their opinions on our culture, our managers and our performance. We don’t just read them, we act and we feedback to each other
- We openly debate and we stand up for our opinion.
- We disagree and commit. We can disagree while a decision is being made, but once a decision has been made, we put our personal opinion to one side and commit to it.
- Our CEO organises breakfast meetings with each person in the team making sure every voice is heard.
- Everyone can provide regular feedback about our company and raise issues anytime.