Some thoughts on developing company culture
What sort of culture is always possible trying to develop, and what has our process been? – asks always possible Head of Project Delivery, Sarah Freeman
The always possible team are focused on helping building up businesses and enabling social problem solving. At times, we have to step back and ensure that we are practicing what we preach.
Physician, heal thyself!
Jesus (Luke 4:23)
We want to feel we work in, rather than for, ‘always possible ltd’. We all want and have autonomy in our work and continually focus on the importance of shared ownership and support in everything we deliver.
We have grown so quickly in the last two years that it has been important to shape the culture and identity of always possible as a collective. Not making every decision by committee – we’d never get anything done – but by bringing together the wider team on areas that affect us all; line-management, annual leave and company goal development for example.
This doesn’t always work. And we have several layers of ‘team’, so we have to check who is being involved and in what way.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”
But working together, we have been able to explore a variety of operational options, selecting the best bits of working practices and environments, for example, and leaving out the ones we don’t want. This has helped us build a strong sense of trust, honesty and support which in turn helps people feel more motivated to work and achieve. This means, hopefully, that our clients always get the best from our teams.\
Building in time every week to connect as people rather than ‘workers’ is hugely important to us all. We dedicate an hour every Tuesday morning to just chat and check-in with each other. No operational talk allowed. Just recommendations for food, music, film, walks that make us happy. Updates on what we did at the weekend. And most importantly, how we’re feeling or what we may need that week from each other.
We have a buddy system that enables staff to connect monthly on personal development and link goals to our co-created company ambitions. Over time, this will help all of us grow professionally, helping always possible to grow as a collection of people making things happen.
Our company structure means that all staff can connect with clients directly, and take on elements of projects that they are most suited to, whilst having opportunity to explore ones they want to know more about. Even in the tough, backs-to-the-wall times we do our best to enable this. It’s sometimes messy. It is sometimes inconsistent. But it’s there.
Ultimately, there is no set, hard-and-fast process in our cultural development and the grand plan for a better working business. But we use the thoughts and needs of the team, to explore, try and adapt as we go, and with that learning we get better at knowing what works and what doesn’t.
Are you growing a business, or struggling to articulate the culture you want?