‘Cats and culture.’ Creating a company we love.
Recently, my lovely colleague Bee was interviewed and said the following about VentureWeb:
“I believe our success is directly due to great leadership, a consistent push for our values and a real upholding of our caring culture code”.
In a nutshell, this is what creates a great company: leading from the top, and upholding a culture code that is an integral part of who we are and how we operate and communicate—both with colleagues and clients. Not only is the VentureWeb culture code clearly defined, it is also visible throughout our offices, discussed with potential candidates, included in the on-boarding of new starters and referenced regularly.
Our culture code is simple. It’s a mix of practical ideas that suggest behaving in a way that promotes a positive working environment, which inspires people to deliver great work. Although different, these elements need to be consciously practiced in conjunction with one another for the culture code to be implemented successfully.
1. Be Authentic
I love cats. Like really love cats! As trivial as this fact is, it’s something that all my family and friends, my colleagues and even my CEO (and now all of you!) know about me.
Although there is a bit more to me than my feline obsession, I’m sharing this with you to illustrate that the “me” I’m at home is the “me” I’m at work. As individuals, we all bring different things to the table. Whatever it is that makes you tick—however frivolous or serious—it is unique to you and should be shared with those around you. The colleagues and clients we are dealing with are people, and we want our personality to emanate from us and set us apart in a positive way. We celebrate authenticity. So be your authentic self!
2. Be Adaptable
Growth, in both a personal and professional sense, is ubiquitous and available to everyone at VentureWeb—if we are open to it. With growth comes change, and being able to roll with it is only going to broaden horizons and create more opportunities. This is particularly relevant to our environment as our work is heavily focused on digital—an industry that is constantly changing. Being prepared for change, and moreover embracing and supporting it when it happens, is considered a prerequisite to growth and development.
3. Be Accountable
We are all human.
My parents always told me that growing up means taking responsibility. I believed they were saying this as it relates to me paying for myself, but later in my life, I realized this included being responsible for my own behavior as an adult. If I behave badly, my parents are no longer going to defend me and say “she’s tired”—it’s all on me now! At VentureWeb, we are encouraged to take ownership of our work and this
results in being held accountable for a job done well, along with things that don’t work out so well. A colleague once said, “If we had to fire employees when they make mistakes, we wouldn’t have a company.” We are human and we all make mistakes, but choosing to use that mistake as an opportunity to learn will ensure that a better job is done next time.
4. Be Caring
VentureWeb is a family—plain and simple. We truly care about our colleagues, clients and candidates. We understand that life happens, and even though we are professionals and take our work and output very seriously, we also want people to feel supported and cared about. People have different opinions and views, all of which deserve respect. We would hate anyone to walk away feeling anything short of warm and fuzzy after interacting with us!
5. Be Communicative
Sometimes working in a global environment is tough—words mean different things in different places, and we’ve had many laughs over the various interpretations of words and phrases in the different geographies. From the (virtual and literal) open-door policy of our CEO and managers, to the connections we are encouraged to form with our teams across the world, communication forms a massive part of what we do. Being a global company, VentureWeb values the importance of open and clear communication at all times. We ensure that we are constantly working to create a shared understanding between ourselves, our colleagues and our clients. As a company, we are always well-informed about changes or transitions within the organization. Being included in regular business updates—which provide the entire workforce, regardless of level, an understanding of where things currently stand in the company—allows all staff to feel included and invested in the business, ensures that everyone is aligned and understands what it is they are together working towards. One goal.
6. Be Innovative
In business, innovation is referred to so frequently that this paragraph could consist of a bunch of quotes. I won’t subject you to that, but I will quote another awesome colleague Inno who said “Innovation and creativity cannot thrive in a culture of fear.” Motivating for change can sometimes be daunting and people may prefer to rather stay within the confines of their comfort zones. At VentureWeb, we are encouraged to innovate—within our teams, within the greater company, with our clients and our processes. Innovation is crucial to the success of an organization, and being in an organization whose business model is innovative is even more reason for us to continue pursuing those changes that enable us to mature as people and professionals.
7. Be Courageous
I believe that to successfully practice any area of this culture code, you need to be courageous. You’ve got to be bold to be yourself and not worry about judgement. It takes courage to support changes that you may not have expected. It’s not easy to own things that you aren’t proud of and sometimes it’s hard to trust or care for people in a professional environment. Matt, our beloved CEO, regularly stands up in front of the entire company to tell us all about the plans, the past and the forecast. Sometimes this information is difficult to share and he knows it, but he finds the courage and is open and honest with us all. Innovating is scary but we do it because we want to be the best. I feel incredibly lucky to work for VentureWeb, an organization that gives us the courage to live all these important, cohesive values that make up our culture code.
It’s important to understand that this culture code is not something that we’ve waxed—it requires consistent work because it is fluid, real and relies on authentic human-to-human effort.
So, the question is: What can one practically do today to start fostering a good culture? I think it starts simply. What if everyone smiled when they said “Hi,” and remembered to ask you how your cat was? For me, that small act by itself would make for a pretty awesome world.
Gabi Garb is a cat-loving Talent Acquisition Specialist at VentureWeb, where she is loved by clients and candidates alike!