Our values in action: Part Two
June 14, 2021 / Startup
In this series, we’re exploring Kalido’s values and what it really means to our team to put them into action.
Generosity: why holding back isn’t an option at Kalido
Being generous with our time, skills, knowledge and contacts makes us part of the change we want to see in the world. Giving well-earned commendations to our teammates, sharing what we’ve learned and going the extra mile all contribute to helping everyone reach their potential.
Greg, Head of Marketing & Growth, thinks it’s important to consider what generosity really means. “People often think of remuneration when it comes to generosity. And, of course, that’s important. But there are other, more powerful aspects of generosity.
“I can’t put a price on what Kalido has afforded me in the last four years. In a previous role, my work/family life balance was completely askew. I was missing out on my daughter growing up, my wife was having to do everything at home. But I was really generously afforded the flexibility and trust straightaway at Kalido to find a working hours pattern that meant I could give my best to being a dad and a husband, without compromising my dedication to my role at Kalido. I don’t think the rest of the corporate world has caught up with this idea yet.
“I could move to a different company, I could potentially earn better remuneration and benefits etc, but would I receive the generosity the founders afford me in a different setting? I don’t think so. And generosity breeds generosity. When spending extra time working at evenings or weekends will help the business, I don’t think twice about it.”
Generosity towards others on the team is key to our culture and helps to retain our employees through acknowledging their work and making them feel valued. Phlippie, Senior iOS Developer, says: “We have a Shoutout Channel on Kalido where people take the time each week to acknowledge which team members have done great work, gone out of their way to offer help, or had a brilliant idea. It helps everyone feel appreciated in their roles and celebrates the excellent work we do.”
Raul, Head of Machine Learning, agrees that a generous approach to helping unblock others helps to get the job done faster. “I always do my best to facilitate and unblock others. If someone messages me, even out of hours, I try to address the problem instantly so they can progress their work. This can be disruptive when I’m working on other things, and with many of the issues most people would probably have figured out the solution if they’d sat with the problem a bit longer, but I’m happy to help out to get them moving again more quickly.”
For Amy, Head of Design & Frontend, generosity is about “understanding that everyone’s an adult and has other stuff going in their lives outside of work. And if you give people the time they need to get on with those things and be in a good place in their personal lives, they’ll then be in the right place to focus on work.”
Communication is vital. Phlippie says: “We have engineering sessions to try and figure out how to solve a problem. These are usually cross-platform issues, and during these conversations you’ll see people going out of their way to really go into depth to explain the issue from the perspective of all the different platforms, which is incredibly useful in helping you understand the parameters clearly. Some of these details don’t necessarily relate to the problem, but they’re shared in a generous way to help increase everyone’s understanding of the wider context.”
Trust + valuing others + celebrating great work + going the extra mile to help out = priceless
Teamwork: no man, woman or developer is an island
No single person can do everything well, or at once; to have great impact requires a team. At Kalido, we collaborate constructively, ask for and give help quickly, are reliably excellent in our work, and conscious of how our words and actions affect others. Or, as Phlippie, Senior iOS Developer, puts it, “Really, teamwork comes down to being nice!”
Amy, Head of Design, says: “We’re mindful of each other’s time as everyone is busy, but there’s always someone available to answer your questions so you don’t get blocked further down the line. Everyone’s great at working in a team as they’ve seen the impact of not speaking out about little problems earlier on, either at Kalido or in previous jobs.”
While teamwork at Kalido focuses on collaborating constructively and helping each other out, Phlippie notes that there are times when a different approach is needed to kickstart true teamwork. “There have been times when a feature has been taking longer than expected to move through the pipeline because there are a lot of different little things each team is responsible for. So, sometimes we agree to consciously ‘throw each other under the bus’ and highlight what’s causing the delay. This isn’t our usual approach, but it’s definitely not a blame game, it’s a collaborative method to get the end result. It might be a bug that you need to get fixed before you can do your part of the work and it’s the responsibility of another team, so you put a card on their Trello board for them to prioritise.”
Finding ways to make teamwork more effective is crucial. The team leads at Kalido used to plan their weekly sprints by holding feature team planning sessions. This meant that many people were in multiple meetings on a Tuesday, despite only being needed directly for small sections of those meetings. Team leads, Amy, Raul and Hein put their heads together with co-founder Ashvin to find a way that our teams could work together more effectively and less frustratingly.
Sprint planning was changed so that input sessions are now held with every function team to assess what was achieved in the last sprint and decide what to work on in the next. Then the team leads all meet with Ashvin to discuss requirements, what cross-team synchronisation is needed, and if any teams need resources from another. Amy proposed holding an open-office session afterwards which everyone is welcome to join to air any problems, ask questions and make sure everyone is ready and excited for the upcoming sprint. The end result? Everybody’s Tuesdays are freed up, teams work more efficiently together and everyone feels empowered to focus on their work in the coming week.
Being nice + speaking out + respecting people’s time = effective collaboration + speedier processes + happy colleagues