As I mentioned in Part 2: how Budapest set the foundation, it was clear to us back in fall of 2019, that even though we knew it was important to set a solid foundation for what type of company we wanted to build, we needed to give ourselves the time to grow and become who we would eventually become before we really set out to defining our values.
Which is why we were very purposeful about keeping who we were and how we acted as a company at the top of everyone’s minds by talking about company culture and how we worked — a lot.
Seriously, in 2021, it was a lot.
If you’re like me and want specific and practical examples so you can use them as a guide for your own org, that’s exactly what you’ll find here.
So let’s dive in.
Surveying Salvers — What kind of people are successful here?
We needed to continue the conversation, to keep how we work and who we are alive in the minds of all Salvers. So we did a multi part exercise.
As a part of our January 2021 internal Salver survey, we asked “What kind of people are successful at Salv? Please point out 3-5 personality traits”.
Unsurprisingly, there were some clear themes already coming forward. So now it was time to put the data back in the hands of Salvers.
Deciding together what traits are important
Using the survey data, we compiled the list of personality traits that Salvers listed out. Then, during our team call, we voted on what was the most important.
The top 5 were:
- Resilient (able to deal with setbacks, re-focus and keep working towards next task)
- Not afraid to make mistakes
- Goal-oriented. Get stuff done. Persistent (deliver even if it’s complicated and takes effort)
- Team player. Cooperative. Supportive
- Fast learner
Then we all took the time to list out what our own life values were. To get a better feel for who we were as people and as employees — both. Because this was vitally important. And seeing what others valued really brought us even closer together as teammates.
Creating engineering key principles
While coming up with company core values is a process that takes many years, it’s much faster to create these in teams. And it also helps potential new joiners understand what it’s like not just to work for the company, but to work in particular teams — which can sometimes be even more important.
Which is why Sergei our CTO and the engineering team worked to create Salv’s engineering key principles.
- We solve real problems
- Build small, build fast
- No solo gunslingers
- You own your work, but failure belongs to the team
- Freedom to learn
Checking in at our offsite
Every summer, one of our offsites takes place at our CEO Taavi’s place. It’s a special time, in part because, as a sauna connoisseur, he has seven different saunas on his property these days. But we didn’t spend all of our time hanging out in one of his saunas. We did actual work, too.
And some of that work was to split into teams to gather even more input on who we were as a team.
Here are a few of my favorite answers to each question we asked at that offsite.
What would the world miss if Salv didn’t exist?
- Criminals running free
- Have a mission that drives us to beat financial crime not just compliance
Why should people join Salv?
- Make a positive impact on the world
- Awesome team
- Freedom and flexibility
What is the DNA of a Salver?
- Care about our mission
- Can cope with chaos
Who wouldn’t thrive at Salv?
- People who need handholding
- Can’t cope with change
Tips for new employees
- Ask questions
- Challenge everything
- Be friendly
Describe #lifeatsalv in a hashtag
Part of making sure we’re all thinking about our culture, is finding different ways to ask the same question. So during one of our team calls, we asked for everyone to think about a hashtag that would describe life at Salv. The answers were both brilliant and hilarious.
Here are just a handful of them:
So, now that we’d talked and talked and talked and talked and talked about who we were, what we wanted, and how we worked. It was finally time to create our values.
Our final blog in the series Creating our Values, part 4: creation and the big reveal.