It’s a little hard to define a term as nebulous yet far-reaching as culture, but do you remember elementary school social studies classes?
For some reason, one of the memories that stuck out for us was where we were taught that culture is the way of life of a group of people. That class may have happened way longer than we’d like to admit, but we still agree with the basic idea of that definition, especially in terms of organisational culture.
At SeamlessHR, we have a set of core values that guide our actions as a company and are attributes we like to see embodied in our staff when we hire.
Here’s some backstory
SeamlessHR was born in 2018 by our founders Deji Lana and Dr. Emmanuel Okeleji, who currently serve as our CTO and CEO, respectively.
As our company began to scale and grow beyond the initial core team in what seemed like geometric progression, and as the vision for the company became more defined, Emmanuel saw the need to codify our culture and core values in a document.
He got to work on it in the height of the lockdown of 2020, doing deep research, brainstorming with a small internal team, and drawing inspiration from other successful companies – all of which resulted in creating what we call the SeamlessHR Culture Deck.
The reason for this work was simple – documenting our culture and core values and making it accessible to everyone in the company was an easier way to ensure widespread adoption and ensure that the company’s culture would not become diluted from the original ‘parent stock’ as we continued to scale and increase workforce strength.
The SeamlessHR Core Values
Our core values represent beliefs that we hold deeply as a company, attributes exemplified by our people, and represent our ethical stance as a company. They also guide our decisions to hire, reward, and, if necessary, release talent.
At SeamlessHR, we have seven core values, all of which stand together as a pillar of our culture.
Let’s explore the SeamlessHR core values and how us SeamStars represent them in our day-to-day work lives.
Excellence means that you:
- You demand the best of yourself and everyone around you.
- You do important work and achieve amazing results.
- You are uncompromising about the quality of results you produce.
- You are intentional and leave no stone unturned.
We value excellence at SeamlessHR and approach our work from global best practices.
We’re not satisfied with being average or mediocre, so at every stage and in every decision that must be made, we ask ourselves if we’re doing it in the most excellent way. Are we doing the best that we can do? Are we ensuring that the tiniest details are produced with finesse? Is this as close to perfection as we can make it?
Excellence is our commitment to being the best and delivering the best to the people who trust and rely on us.
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.
– Vince Lombardi
- You use insight and knowledge to make quick decisions about what needs to be done and not done, what to do now and what can wait without agonising.
- You seek to find the truth about things; you go beyond the surface to understand how things work.
- You deal in facts and not conjecture. You use data and insight well to guide decisions and actions.
- You challenge and debate ideas and plans to ensure we are doing our best at all times.
One of the most obvious ways that judgement as a core value is implemented is in the autonomy everyone at SeamlessHR enjoys over their work. At SeamlessHR, we’re shown the direction and expected to devise our path in getting there.
While a certain level of accountability is expected from everyone, there’s no micromanaging, and everyone is trusted to use their judgement to do their best work. This autonomy and belief in everyone’s judgement naturally empowers our ability to work remotely.
We also host bi-monthly Town Hall Meetings where company updates are shared. Everyone in the company is permitted to debate ideas and share opinions, decisions the company is considering or has already made.
This helps team members know and believe that their voice and opinion is valued. This diversity of opinion helps us grow and become better as a company.
- You keep seeking better ways to achieve better results; your bar is never static. Everything can be better.
- You always find the fastest and most efficient way to solve problems.
- You move fast and avoid analysis paralysis
- You study problems well, break down complexities and keep solutions as simple as possible.
Innovation is at the heart of technology, so this is an important core value for us as a tech company. We practice this value by keeping the inbuilt agility of a start-up despite our recent burst of growth.
Things change quickly at SeamlessHR, as everyone who works here will agree. This is because we recognise that the landscape we work in is not frozen in time, so we must ensure that we can adapt and move quickly to solve problems in new ways.
As we’ve said, we’re not afraid of change, so we’re always willing to try out new ways of doing things, new solutions, and new ideas until we find out what works. A recent example is how we moved from using G-Suite to Microsoft 365 and now to a more blended option that optimises the strengths and weaknesses of either option to the company processes.
- You avoid fluff. You are clear and articulate in what you say and write. You listen well, to understand, not just to respond.
- You communicate respectfully to people, whatever their status or position.
- You speak up, contribute, and ask questions to clear doubt and eliminate unnecessary assumptions.
- You do not break the communication chain – you give timely updates. You promptly respond to communication (emails, invites, calls, etc.) directed at you.
Earlier in the year, we noticed that our communication habits weren’t what they should be.
Here are some things we started to do to improve them:
- Held discussions at our Town Hall Meetings to identify the challenges and received suggestions from the wider team.
- Curated special trainings for everyone to engage with.
- Continued to share company updates at THMs and make it clear that questions are encouraged and welcome. This reinforcement is necessary so new hires get onboard with embracing this culture too.
- Effected a Meetings Advisory to reduce the amount of time we spend in meetings because it wastes time and dilutes the effect of communication.
- Implemented regular stand-up meetings among teams – super important for alignment in remote-first teams – and 1:1s, so employees keep getting regular and consistent feedback from their managers.
We’re still a work in progress in truly embodying this core value at SeamlessHR. 😊
- You speak freely, openly and honestly without any fear.
- You challenge behaviour that is not consistent with the SeamlessHR culture, at any level and from anybody, no matter how high or low.
- You do not begrudge or punish candour.
- You actively crave and offer feedback and useful criticism.
Constructive feedback is welcome at SeamlessHR, and no one is punished for speaking the truth as they see it.
Every one of us at SeamlessHR has access to the company’s Culture Deck, and this empowers us to call out behaviours and actions that are inconsistent with our culture (or just plain wrong) wherever it happens.
Encouraging the spirit of candour is one of the reasons why we’re all on a first-name basis at SeamlessHR. We figure it’s easier to tell someone what you think about something they’re doing when you’re calling them by their first name without a string of titles attached.
This is very important to us, especially because most of our employees are Nigerian and come from a cultural background that does not support questioning or challenging superiors, nor calling them by their first names.
- You are helpful to people; colleagues, customers, everyone.
- You do not let ego or personal agenda get in the way of work or decision making.
- You do what is best for SeamlessHR, not just yourself or your group.
- You are genuine in your interactions; you do and say things about others that you will expect to be done or said about you.
When we work with selflessness, we’re not on a personal quest for glory with generating individual results. While individual performance is essential, we understand that our results as a team are even more so.
Selflessness means that we put the needs of the team and company above ours and that we solve first for the customer.
Selflessness is also reflected in how our colleagues work together. Being there for each other often results in friendship ties that many of us enjoy beyond our work at SeamlessHR, which helps us do even better at work.
- You are aware of what is going on in the world around you.
- You are an avid learner, and you never pass up an opportunity to learn.
- You are broadly knowledgeable about many things, especially Technology, business and HR Tech.
- You are interested in knowing as much as you can about SeamlessHR; our products, customers, strategy and business.
Working at SeamlessHR lets you know in practical terms about the ocean of knowledge that exists and just how much there is to learn. Some of the ways we practice this value internally are how we encourage teams to block out daily time for learning and weekly times for knowledge sharing and how everyone is granted free access to learning platforms.
Fun fact: It’s always easier to encourage the adoption of core values when the company’s leadership embody those values. We took an internal survey a couple of months ago and scored in the 80th percentile on a question asking respondents if they thought that the leadership embodied the core values. 😊
Building culture at a start-up (from scratch!) is hard work, especially when you consider how much there is to do at start-ups – there’s structure to set up and all of the work that goes into product building and driving adoption.
Regardless, realising that culture will happen on its own if we don’t build it has led us to be more intentional about building our culture. While we’re still a work in progress, and while we might even call our Culture Deck aspirational on some fronts, we can already see that developing our Culture Deck was one of the best decisions we made last year.