Oct 19, 2021

Collaborative Kindness: How the Unleashed Team works to cultivate a “We” mindset.

"We’re friends, confidantes, sidekicks and a whole lot more. We’re open with each other and if something’s not right (both in our work or personal life) then we share as much or as little as we each want to."

Given we are so passionate about all things People + Culture, we would like to think that we get it right in our own home. Like all companies that are scaling, we too are aware of the growing pains that can impact company culture. However, we do have some fundamental foundations in place that we don’t waiver on. We often get asked about what makes our culture great at Unleashed, so, in true Unleashed style, we wanted to share these with you in the hope that it could be of use! 

Hellos - like most companies, we very quickly had to switch to being fully remote when Covid hit last year. With the nature of our client work, it meant that a lot of our days were filled with client Zoom calls and we began to miss that team connection. So, we introduced "Hellos", half an hour in a day (usually at the beginning of the day for most of the team) as a way of catching up on each other's news.. Whilst “Hellos” are optional, we all make a real effort to turn up and it is a great way to connect! 

We keep our “Eyes” on each other - we believe our best work is never done alone and as you can imagine, collaboration is at the heart of everything we do.  We always like to get each other’s perspectives, feedback and shared creativity on our work to make sure that we’re delivering our best! As delivering excellence is one of our core “pill-oes” (kind of like pillars but less formal), this is particularly important. And it is a two way street, those lending their ‘eyes’ learn from your work and you learn from their feedback. 

Friday team days - our Fridays are dedicated to a whole day together! We appreciate that not all companies may be able to work in this way, but for us it’s a non-negotiable. We use this time to check in; get updates on the business and clients, share our personal news and celebrate our wins (a constant theme here) with one another.  As they say, sharing is caring and we do this in abundance at Unleashed with dedicated time on Fridays (and whenever the need arises) to get help and collaborate on a challenge or a problem that we’re struggling to solve on our own. Not only is it a great way to connect in more depth with another member of the team, but you can guarantee there will always be someone who has dealt with something similar before! 

Continuous learning is one of our core values so we absolutely make sure that we give time to this with our Brain Love sessions (I mean, the title here is self-explanatory… brain + love = nurturing our minds). A full 90 minutes of learning about a topic agreed in advance either by one of our team or an external facilitator.

Fixing things that aren’t working - speaking of continuous learning, we always ask for feedback to improve and this includes our internal processes. Our Fridays are precious to us and we realised a few months ago that we weren’t getting them right. They were very Zoom-heavy and the team were telling us that this was impacting concentration and our time together. As a result, we reduced the number of Zoom meetings and brought our last session in the day to earlier in the afternoon. We’ve realised that more time on Zoom doesn’t equal more connection and meaningful time together, in fact, it’s the opposite! 

Our personal RAG status - Updating the team daily on our RAG status is the only thing that we say is not an option to miss. We have a dedicated slack channel in which we all share the day’s events with a heart emoji (green, amber or red). In true Unleashed style, this is a great way for us to share our personal highs and even those low moments, because, let’s face it, we all have bad days. As teammates, it means that we can quickly identify when one of us might need a bit more support and as you can imagine, there is no shortage of ears ready to listen. It also means that Anouk + Hannah can be quick to identify any trends or patterns through the week on how we’re feeling.

Document, document, document! - A bit of an obvious one, as we’re sure you all know the importance of writing stuff down.  Having your internal processes, ways of working and anything else that you can think of documented is super duper important, not just for new colleagues but also as a reference point for Unleashed veterans. We love using Notion as our internal knowledge base, but there are so many ways of storing information which is accessible to everyone - especially in a remote or hybrid working environment when you don’t have the luxury of asking the person next to where to find that old Brain Love session. Examples that we have at Unleashed are our “Tech tools guide” (guidance on how to use our tech systems) and our beloved “Culture Deck” (basically a bells and whistles explanation of how we do things at Unleashed). And of course: Keep it up to date! For those people that can’t make our Friday Team Days for any reason we record the sessions so that everyone can catch up. Information and knowledge for the whole team is key.

Celebrating our wins - This is a big one for us! We love to celebrate when we receive great feedback from a client (or anyone we work with for that matter!) And yep, you guessed it, it’s another Slack channel :). Because we pride ourselves on delivering valuable, high impact work for our clients, it’s really important that we recognise this and share amongst the team. It may sound obvious, but it’s a great way for us to inspire and support each other and to witness all the great work we’re doing. And our wins aren’t always successes...we celebrate our failures (or learnings as we like to call them), we celebrate when we see boundaries being protected, and more often than not, we celebrate just simply being awesome at what we do.

Show and tell - in the spirit of celebrating our wins, we also like to share our finest pieces of work that we’ve designed, delivered with excellence for our clients. We share this in another Slack channel called Show and Tell. You can see a theme here - again, it helps us to learn from each other (have we mentioned learning much?!), but it also inspires us to enhance the way we approach design-thinking by giving us an additional data source for when we’re creating for our clients. 

1:1s - our 1:1s at Unleashed are like our golden time. This is a great time to discuss our loves, longings and learnings and draw on Hannah + Anouk’s formidable coaching approach to help us unblock or reframe those tricky issues, to hold ourselves accountable, and to ensure that we keep growing and that we are being supported to do the best work of our lives. They’re not as formal as they sound. Despite ‘best practice for 1:1s’ we enter these freely and allow the space to form what we need it to in the moment. 

Having each other’s backs (and fronts and sides) - we’re more than just teammates at Unleashed. We’re friends, confidantes, sidekicks and a whole lot more. We’re open with each other and if something’s not right (both in our work or personal life) then we share as much or as little as we each want to. We try to foster a culture of vulnerability (both Hannah and Anouk role model this exceptionally well) by asking each other for help a lot. Because there’s no pretence, as a team we can be super resilient as we constantly and consciously look out for each other. Team resilience is critical to success - being vulnerable, building trust, and back each other plays a huge part in that!

We’ve always stayed true to our values and our pill-oes at Unleashed making sure that collaboration, creating moments of joy, and being able to do excellent work that, daily, impacts our mission drives us to keep raising the bar for us and for our clients. In fact, writing this has made me think we should be called UnWEashed - maybe we can campaign for another entry into the Unleashedonary (tell you about that another time!)

Written by People + Culture Partner at Unleashed Jo Garside.

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