One of the regular subjects on my LinkedIn feed is company culture. In my mind, it’s the effort people should make to define and maintain the essence, personality of the company. The exact meaning differs between companies as each organisation is unique. In this post, I’ll talk about our values and provide insight into how I try to make Sponge Hammer a great place to work at.
In some ways it’s really simple in others it’s quite a challenge. But it definitely starts with leadership. The founders have to have a clear vision for the internal workings of their company. They need to communicate these values to their employees. And they need to use the right method to do so.
Imagine if one of the values is communication yet the only time employees learn about it is if they read the company handbook. Will it resonate with them? Will they think the company as a whole communicates well?
Sponge Hammer is at a stage where it is still possible for me to personally introduce our values. This means before anyone would even consider joining us I make a point to have an in-person discussion with them. During that call, as it is usually a video chat, I tell them about our values and ask their opinion about those. I ask every candidate not to consider working with us if they feel that even one of the values is not compatible with them.
What are these values?
Most of this, in my opinion, is common sense, but I believe this is what sets us apart from everyone else.
Trust is important
Our way of seeing this could be summed up by this quote from Interstate 60 “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Trust is the foundation of all human interactions. Our clients need to be able to trust us to deliver what we promised as a company. Equally, we need to be able to trust each other that we all perform and deliver what we said we would.
This is such a large area! In some ways, everything hangs on having the ability to communicate with our clients and each other. In here I’ll only detail our internal challenges. Sponge Hammer is built around remote work which means any form of communication requires effort. Sometimes it’s not easy to reach out.
Most of our communication happens in writing. That can be a source of all sorts of misunderstandings. To help with this I encourage everyone to hop on a video call if written discussions start to take long or get a bit heated.
Also to keep the peace we need to make sure the tone of communication is respectful. We run an international operation and as such we have slightly different cultural values. So we make a conscious effort which enables us to work together with as little friction as possible.
Personal life is important
The reasoning behind this is really simple. If there’s trouble in someone’s personal life they won’t be performing to their best. So our solution to this is that instead of forcing people to focus on work during such times we support them.
Our industry changes every day: new tech becomes popular while something we use every day becomes obsolete overnight. To cope with this everyone must be ready to open to learning and improving themselves.
Everyone has a voice
We more than just the sum of parts and that is because every one of us is encouraged to get involved. I think this is one of the key elements of our company culture. I am the one making the final decisions on where we are going but the team’s input is what enables me to do that.
Change comes in many forms and handling it is always a challenge. In our line of work, we are exposed to it a bit more than most. We work with several clients in a year which means we need to adapt our coding style, the tech we use and development method according to our partner’s requirements. Because we are used to dealing with change we regularly review our internal processes and try to improve them. Implementing a change in our organisation takes anything between a few hours and a few days. This makes us extremely agile.
There is a lot more to this though. Is our company culture perfect? No. There is always room for improvement. All the methods and tools we use help but we also have challenges. I’ll follow up in another post about those and our ways of tackling them.
What do you think? Is there anything else you think important for you to feel great working for a company.