8 ingredients to shape a successful team
I’m Justus Weweler, the cofounder and CPO of science and research platform Morressier. In this article, I’d like to share what I believe are the eight most important factors to building a healthy and productive company culture.
One of Morressier’s goals is to make the entire research industry more transparent and we reflect this aim in the way we work ourselves. Sharing company-wide information on a regular basis leads to a more harmonious team and provides a clear picture of where the company is heading. That’s why my cofounder and I implemented monthly company update meetings from the moment we made our first hires. In these meetings, we rotate between presentations from the founders and from the department leads to ensure that everyone has a good overview of what their colleagues are working on right now. We also implemented Objective Key Results (OKRs) as a method to transparently display and share our company objectives. Every department has developed precise actions that they’ll need to complete in order to achieve these objectives. All OKRs are shared with the entire team and are the foundation of our roadmap.
Freedom to fail
Our company objectives are very ambitious and I know we’ll have to experiment and try out new tactics in order to reach them. But as with scientific experiments, you can only test new theories and ideas if you also accept that some will fail. As long as my team is trying things that pushes them out of their comfort zone they know that they can rely on my support — even when things don’t work out.
Listening to my team is crucial: Their ideas, their goals, their complaints. In fact, the act of listening is so important for our company that we’ve introduced weekly one-on-ones for every team member and their manager. In these meetings, I listen carefully to what each team member has to say and take the time to consider their feedback. However, we don’t necessarily have to use this time to talk about work — the main purpose is to keep the lines of communication open and to build a great rapport between managers and their teams.
Our goal is to organize early science in a way that helps researchers do their best work. Achieving this won’t be easy, which is why we’re very careful in the hiring process to only get people on board who are as passionate about changing science as we are. Knowing that we’re all in this together helps us collaborate successfully and keeps the team spirit high.
At Morressier, we have flat hierarchies and we know that good ideas don’t necessarily come from team leads or the person with the most experience. Instead, the best idea wins in our company, regardless who said it. As a data and science firm, we believe in a data-driven approach to decision making and will go for the suggestion that is well-researched and supported by numbers.
Trust is the foundation of how we work as a team and I can rely on everyone at Morressier to do their work to the best of their ability. While establishing trust may make you nervous, handing over responsibilities and leaving your team to get on with the job pays off in a big way in the long run. On the flip side, we have a vigorous hiring process to ensure that we only get trustworthy and talented people on board from the very start.
Working in a young tech company comes with a host of distractions. A small team means you have to be flexible and willing to jump into a project at the drop of a hat. However, it also means learning how to prioritize your work and building in processes that will help you focus. One example is our headphones policy: If someone has their headphones on, this means do not disturb.
Finally, keeping your team motivated is essential to ensuring they remain loyal to the company and keep producing great work. Self-efficacy and individual ownership is one way we keep a positive and productive energy in the team. Another way is via celebrations. We communicate openly when different departments do good work, whether it’s a new product feature, a big sell, or a great hire. However, the main motivator for our team is the constant awareness of why we’re doing what we’re doing. Knowing that our work is helping scientists make progress with their research is the biggest motivator of all.