1 of 8: Trust and be honest
As we approach our 8th birthday, I've been reflecting on our values. I once put them all on a slide and explained them to a client, then felt fairly silly as they were pretty obvious. But I've come to realise that whilst at face value they are, it's the implementation that matters.
I think trust is central to our ability to operate as a collaborative, distributed company. I’d hope that our management team is trusted by our people to make the right priority calls for the business & if they don't, they are honest about it and challenge us.
Big: We trust our people to deliver on difficult, demanding roles. We trust them to ask for help when they need it and that they’ll do the right thing for the client, the company and our people at all times
Small: A lightweight approach to expenses policy - spend company money as if it is your own. For compliance reasons, we can't quite get rid of the approval process in total, but if we could, I would.
2 of 8. Respect:
I said that some of these sound trite at first glance…. Of course we should all respect other humans and our world. But do we actually do that on a day to day basis? Do we think about whether the person we're talking to has had a bad day, or had some bad news and take the time to work out whether that's affecting them.
So we encourage everyone at Clarasys to treat others with respect and courtesy. The most basic is turning up on time to meetings because we care about the fact that there are other people waiting for us. Sometimes more difficult, but even more important is to be empathetic to someone else’s point of view and try and understand their motivation, even if you think you disagree
3 of 8. Listen
I don’t think you can over-estimate the value of listening. If you’re not listening, how can you hope to help the other person? “Listen to understand, not to reply”.
I have to admit I find this most challenging when I’m talking to Claudia. I know her so well that sometimes I think I know what she’s going to say. That’s pretty annoying for her and violates value #2 (respect). It takes a great deal of effort to change a behaviour like that - I haven’t quite succeeded yet.
And actually, listening is a key way of demonstrating respect - having a genuine interest in what the other person has to say and allowing them to finish their thoughts. It’s also, in my view, a critical part of a consultant’s job.
4 of 8. Coach
This is another fundamental for me. I enjoy helping people learn and I think that we all grow by helping others. Striking the balance of mentoring and pure coaching is difficult, but always being there to help our people succeed is a given.
Since we started, we’ve focused on trying to “make you as good as you can be”. In the early days, we hadn’t worked out the difference between managing and coaching, but our pattern is now well established, with every consultant having a Clarasys coach - a constant, supporting presence through their career, as line managers change from project to project.
5 of 8. Collaborate
You can take this to mean all kinds of things around team behaviours and working well with each other. I think it's about the ability to put aside any pre-conception of levels and experience and to objectively look at how best to solve a problem; giving respect to the different skills and experience of the team, but not deferring to them. On a wider level, it's about recognising that we all win together, not individually.
You can see this most obviously within the firm through our internal scrum delivery model and the way we approach knowledge management, with everyone contributing to different elements.
6 of 8. Commit
If you've said you're going to do it, actually do it. Unless you commit, then you undermine the ability of the organisation to trust itself.
7 of 8. Deliver quality
We are proud to deliver outstanding work, but we’re also conscious that sometimes it’s ok to be just good enough so that the next important thing can get done. Perhaps this should be deliver value, but that's not quite the core - doing the right thing by whoever you are trying to deliver something for is.
8 of 8. Love your work
I think I grew up with the idea that it wasn't cool to enjoy your school work and be good at it (there's a whole other story there!) and I carried that into my early working career. I (we) believe now that you should be happy with your work, ideally you should be able to follow your passion and be able to set the direction of your career. I can't say that I always manage to understand what my passion is, but I know that I love working with the people at Clarasys.