Discover more from REBORRN’s Substack
Candor, the REBORRN way
Written by @Niki Sotiriou
In REBORRN, we exist to fulfil our purpose: to constantly look for better ways for the world to work. If our purpose is our North star, then our values are our inner compass while navigating the complexity of the solar system: we are and will always remain the underdogs, our work must have impact, we practice candor every day, we care and we are curious by design.
Subscribe to receive new posts about how we drive meaningful change in the digital economy.
While all our values are equally important to us, in this article I decided to share with you how we practice and nurture candor at REBORRN. The reason for that is that even after 5 years of establishment, practicing candor to its fullest within our teams can still be challenging at times and we acknowledge that this is a common struggle among other organizations as well. To start with, let me share with you what candor is and how we have defined this value, through a co-creating company-wide exercise:
We like being open, honest, and sincere. We put candor before politics and rounded talks. We know that being straightforward and truthful is not easy. We choose to do it because it’s hard. Because it has the most impact on the shortest time period. Because it makes ourselves, colleagues and clients better. Being candid doesn’t mean being rude or harsh. We always deliver news with empathy but ensure we get our point across.
Behaviors we value:
You are known for candor and directness
You are non‐political when you disagree with others
You only say things about fellow employees you will say to their face
You are quick to admit mistakes
Candor requires daily effort from all employees. It is challenging since it requires being humble, confident, and brave at the same time. It is highly connected to psychological safety: you cannot ask people to speak up if you have not created an environment that not only does not embarrass, reject, or punish them for doing so, but rewards them. In fact, even when you give your best to create this environment, there are some other reasons that are related to our inherent instincts that prevent us from using our full potential when it comes to candor: as Amy Edmondson had previously stated (with whom we had an enlightening discussion about fostering a fearless organization in our podcast) ‘“...It is an instinct to want to look good in front of others. It’s an instinct to divert blame, it’s an instinct to agree with the boss. And hierarchies are places where these instincts are even more exaggerated.’’
Considering all the above, we know that fostering psychological safety and candor in any organization, regardless of its size, requires an ongoing effort. While it can be taught, there are always opportunities to further enhance it. Below you will find some examples of how we integrate candor into our daily practices and how we cultivate it internally and with our clients:
Established processes that are dedicated to feedback: Our routines include weekly 1-on-1s with our manager, where both sides exchange feedback, and quarterly skip-a-level” meetings with Costas and Giorgos (REBORRN’s founders). The goal is for all team members to share candid feedback on how we can build a healthier and more productive work environment. In addition to that, we run an eNPS survey every month, where we collect feedback from our colleagues on what we are doing well and what we could improve. The eNPS is not anonymous, and we discuss on the spot both the score and the actions needed to take in order to improve it.
A different approach to decision-making: For us, decision-making is a collaborative process in which all individuals are encouraged to openly voice any opinion or disagreement during meetings, even with the founders. Also, since we often work in cross-functional teams, we always make sure to include all team members’ voices (regardless of their seniority level) when deciding on the best approach based on a client’s unique needs. We are not just doing it to drive inclusivity. We need to make sure that every member feels confident to speak up, so that we can use our collective mental powers to have the most impact with our work.
Reflect often on how we can become better: We run our retrospectives on a monthly basis, both as teams but also with our clients after we wrap up a project. The goal of our retrospectives is to amplify different viewpoints on what we could do better in the future and create a concrete action plan.
We are transparent: We have no barriers or secrets, when it comes to information sharing. In our monthly all-hands meeting, Costas and Giorgos, along with all Team Leads make sure to share a thorough business update with all of us. In addition to that, we have a detailed documentation on Notion where one can find all the information about the company (including how we pay & how we bill).The document is open to everyone, regardless if they are an intern or a partner. And of course, power comes with great responsibility: we expect everyone to treat information responsibly.
Hire talent that embraces candor: In our recruitment process we always ask the following two questions to candidates: 1) “Could you share with us one of the most important feedback that you have received in your professional career and how it shaped you?” 2) “Can you share an example of you giving constructive feedback to one of your supervisors or peers”? Of course, we also walk the talk when disqualifying a candidate by giving concrete feedback on why we decided not to proceed with them.
Being candid with our clients: We always openly share our feedback with them without sugar coating, when we feel that it is needed in order to make significant improvements in their organization. Also, we don't shy away from situations where we need to say no in taking over a project, when we feel that our work will not have the impact that we wish to have on their organization.
Keep building the “candor” muscle: We recently ran an extensive internal training on how to give and receive constructive feedback. This training served as an opportunity for us to dive deeper into the underlying causes of people's behaviors, aiming to cultivate empathy within our team. During the training, we emphasized on understanding the importance of feedback, its difference from criticism, and how it can be constructive. By exploring various techniques and approaches to delivering feedback effectively, our goal was to foster an environment of understanding, support, and growth.
Thanks for reading REBORRN's Substack! Check out our upcoming articles too.
Despite all the challenges, a workplace that embraces candor leads to an environment of openness and transparency. It fosters a sense of safety, acceptance, and growth among all team members. This depicts REBORRN's culture and is the driving force behind fostering collaboration and empowering the team to reach its full potential.