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Creating a culture in “verbose mode”

CULTURE / TEAM

When we’re developing software, we don’t just expect it to turn out great by chance. We design and code for greatness: agile, prototyping, test driven development, continuous integration, among other engineering practices.

But practices are not enough. We also need a great team.

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When creating a great team, you can’t just hire great people and then expect greatness to emerge by chance. That’s not enough. You need a great company culture, and unfortunately culture tends to be created in “silent mode”. We’ve been trying the “verbose mode” at Premium Minds, in several areas.

I’d like to share the importance we give to the first day of anyone who joins the team.

After a demanding recruitment process, where the candidate has already spent a day in the company (and maybe one day we’ll write about that experience here), he or she arrives eager to start working. But before anything else, we have a conversation about values. We believe first things should come first, and when you want to create a great team, values are the foundations you should build on. And the foundations, as I learned in elementary school, come before the walls ☺

There are three values you ought to follow if you want to work with us. We will talk about them in order of importance.

Honesty: to our customers and providers, to our peers, and to ourselves.

Honesty is the path to lasting and healthy relationships. Inside Premium Minds we believe in straightforwardness. One time, Pedro, the company owner, intervened during a scrum team meeting, suggesting a solution to a problem being discussed. After one minute of thought, the team had no problem in telling him it was a bad solution and why. Pedro was proud he had created a culture where people had no problem telling him what they thought was the best for the company, even if it was against his own opinion. This culture allows us to use Know Your Company, and be confident we will really get to know the company, regardless of our growth.
We have this same straightforwardness when talking to clients. It may not be not the best way to get a new client, but’s incredibly powerful in building trust. And that is something our clients know for sure. They can trust us. We don’t use nonsense jargon. We just don’t know how to.
Maybe most important of all is to be honest with oneself. We expect it from every person working here. There is no other way to build win-win relationships.

Respect: for every person you work with.

We thrive in creating friendships between workers at Premium Minds. Spending more than one third of our lives with the people we work with means we need to invest in our relationships with them. The baseline for those relationships is respect. Respecting each human being is respecting all sides of that person, including being silly, kind, stressed or shy, or other personality traits less acknowledged in professional life.
We do not encourage submission to hierarchy in any way. We don’t even see our organization as a hierarchical one.
At the end of the day, I think respect means there is no valid reason to treat someone badly, even if the world seems to be collapsing.

Be responsible for results.

We have a saying that, translated to English, goes something like this: those who want to, find the means, those who do not, find excuses. Excuses are a powerful way of not doing things, of not being productive, of killing a company. We all know that clients don’t pay for excuses, they pay for results.
Being responsible for results is not just doing things; it’s also about investing in our way of doing things. And so, we expect everybody to contribute to the continuous progress of the organization.

By building trust through honesty, by respecting all aspects of each person, and by expecting everybody to contribute, we are creating a culture. In our culture, we expect the best of everyone and we give them the best possible place to work.
This is too important to be left to chance.

And so I leave you with a thought: You can be “verbose” when complaining about something, or you can be “verbose” beforehand, and just do it.

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