Scaling Culture: Our Core Values

July 10, 2020

Our core values: the compass of PHYSEEonairs 

Scan the internet on the importance of a healthy culture at work and you’ll find dozens of studies that prove the positive correlation between performance and engagement (Take Gallup, for example). The bottleneck is not this understanding, but allocating the time and resources towards designing a culture plan, implementing it and then maintaining it while scaling up.  

 

So in 2014, Ferdinand and Willem promised to take this seriously, and created the first version of our current core values: the 10 tacticals (see photo). Six years later they kept their promise of putting people first. The evidence? PHYSEE Xtra, the extra-curricular program built on the volunteered time of PHYSEEonair Joe. And of course, the Employee Satisfaction Score of 8.5%. But stop by for a coffee to be persuaded yourself… 

 

Long story short, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Willem Kesteloo, co-founder and CTO 

 

But what does this mean in practice?  

  • Trust and earn trust  
  • Passion for excellence 
  • Change the perspective
  • Make your mark

Our approach to answering the above question has simply been to implement the core values into everything we do at work. Naturally, when new PHYSEEonairs join, the culture is so present that it’s difficult not to pick it up.  

 

“Us PHYSEEonairs are all wildly different in every possible way, but everyone unites around our core values. I believe they allow us to foster our special culture into our business, even when scaling up. “ – Frederique Pars, Head of HR 

 

Trust & earn trust

Teams need it.

It’s simple: we want to build a genuinely meaningful culture, where honesty is the best policyCo-founders Ferdinand and Willem “from the beginning onwards, invested a lot in the culture, already from the start, even with just the two of us” (Willem, when asked about where it began). Six years and 53 employees later, we still end the week with brainstorms and often “highs and lows”. Ending the week together in such a setting promotes communal, open reflection and facilitated an environment of trust. It’s a reminder of common vulnerability and weekly challenges that can be spoken about in our support system at PHYSEEHow else can we continue to build each other up and work together on one mission? 

The high’s and low’s are difficult to maintain with the predicted growth of employees, so we are placing effort on the recently introduced intervision system. After a workshop on the topic of trust, we implemented monthly session in groups of three, meant for colleagues to support each other on challenges inside or outside work. This cuts through hierarchy and adds an environment of teamwork. Everyone has something to share, as well as time to listen and help. (At least at PHYSEE we do). 

Moving forward we want to continue encouraging a work dynamic that is built on trust, not envy or unhealthy competition. Knowing each other personally and being part of the PHYSEE journey will hopefully allow for this to naturally take place, but it is also up to PHYSEEonairs to stay open and honest about the environment being built around them, through Radical Candor feedback.   

 

Passion for excellence 

We are from Delft, after all.  

Maintaining our drive for perfection is necessary, not only for productsdelivery time and other external factors of doing business, but also internally. Instead of fostering a culture that leads by fear, we have placed feedback at the forefront of most interactions. A trusted space for radical candor feedback is what can allow a company to continue caring personally about each other, while feeling comfortable enough to give very direct, constructive feedback, to end up with the best results. 

We aim to follow the radical candor approach of feedback after being taught the framework in one of our company trainings. From weekly team roundups of individual f*ck ups and quarterly progress talks, we’re slowly seeing the change: 100% of PHYSEEonairs believed we started on the left side of this chart in 2019, and 88% of them now state that we are “in the beginning of the transition into radical candor” part of this graph, and it remains a company goal to ensure we get to that 100%. 

 

I came from a work environment where feedback talks were feared. At PHYSEE the quarterly PDP’s are a highlight because mistakes and learnings are celebratedwhile concerns are actually raised if there haven’t been major failures that made one grow. What a place to be as a young professional.” – Previous intern at PHYSEE 

 

Change the Perspective

 There is always a different solution.

This is about killing mediocrity and finding those out-of-the-box ideas and having the courage to follow them up. But they don’t just arise naturally, all the time.  

Brainstorms. Willem explains that this routine started for the purpose of building a culture: It was a series of brainstorms, tailored to identify the learnings and characteristics that in our understanding defined our team culture”. But soon, brainstorms were engrained into the weekly rhythm of PHYSEE, which are still a blocked timeslot in our Friday scheduleThis allows for PHYSEEonair from any department to propose a topic to brainstorm, giving the opportunity to pick the brains of another expertise.  

What has the outcome of weekly brainstorms been?   

  • Winning the postcode lottery green challenge  
  • The invention of our PHYSEEbility Check
  • Adding sensors into PowerWindows, leading to “SmartWindows” and a data function in the EESYapp 

Safe to say, challenging the “normal” way of thinking can only help us with our creativity and growth.  

 

Make your mark

What is our legacy? What is your legacy? 

We want to be a place for people to learn more than the content of their work. It’s a place of self-discovery and collective growth. This value is about teaching, learning and acting. We are working on products that have the chance to shape the use of green energy in the real estate industry. That’s where “make your mark” starts, but it has a deeper root in our culture.  

This is up for everyone to decide, individually. We hope that PHYSEE remains to be the place where anyone can decide on what their mark should be, and that it is an impactful one.