By Kaysia Campbell – Palmer
Ten years ago, the doors to QualityWorks officially opened. Five years later, the company expanded to an office in Jamaica, tripling in size and revenue. Even more significantly, these 5 years have marked the most momentous phase in discovery and growth for what we know today as the QualityWorks culture.
Did you know that just about 50% of startups fail before they even get to year 5?
As we celebrated our anniversary this year, in the midst of a pandemic, the magnitude of what we have achieved certainly did not escape any of us; neither did the fact that there are many more milestones and odds we must be prepared to beat. Like every company, we have had our fair share of highs and lows, but for us, those are the moments and experiences that have driven us to this incredible milestone. So as we planned, celebrated, and reflected on our journey, it is indeed a fact that who we are, where we are, and everything that we have can easily be credited to several key factors:
- The foundation we built
- The game-changer mindset we adopted,
- The constant we embraced as gatekeepers of our culture, and
- Most importantly, the reward of having an awesome team.
This is the story of how we’ve become QualityWorks.
1. We put our team first: The foundation
Some of the easiest decisions we have made as a company have been those requiring us to prioritize our team. We have never been mistaken or unsure about the value our team brings us, and we are always aware of the fact we are living, breathing human beings who deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.
As a matter of fact, our response to the Covid-19 pandemic is one of the most recent examples of how we put our team first. Earlier this year – while the rest of the world was struggling with the decision to have their employees work from home – we were among the first to make the call to go fully remote. We knew then, as we know now, that this was our best option to ensure the health and safety of our team, and we were not unclear about what the priority was.
Another example, which is one of my favorites, is how easily we embrace the individuality in the team. For many years, we have trusted and understood that what makes us great as people is also what makes us different. There is no greater way to embrace the individuality within your team than to offer them the opportunity to be masters of their own professional brand. As a result, our team gets to choose what time they show up at work, what they wear to work, and how best to do their work. In other words, they are the drivers of their decisions and actions. We trust and enable them to put themselves first, by us putting them first.
2. We embrace the lessons that come from our failures: The game changer
We are a company that has been very successful and will continue to be very successful. I state this confidently because these past years have not just been about the winning moments. They have also been about assessing where we have failed (by our own standards and by the standards of others) and identifying the lessons that will reposition us for success.
Here is why this is a game-changer approach.
As a business, it’s extremely important for us to approach success as a path of continuous improvement; culturally, it has to be the mindset of the team. You see, organizations are people, and they’re driven by how people think and feel on any given day.
Here at QualityWorks, we have been extremely lucky to have leaders who personify the mindset of accepting feedback (good or bad) and using that feedback as an opportunity to build a stronger personal brand. This has been one of the most important aspects of setting the tone for the rest of the team; quite frankly, it is why we are able to accept where we have made a mistake and can then work on finding the opportunities to improve.
This approach has been our biggest game-changer since it normalizes for us what many people fear and mishandle… mistakes. Mistakes, errors, failures – whatever you may call them – are a natural part of being human, and the only way around failure is to create a culture within our teams that changes the way we respond when it happens. As a team, we have been able to create a cultural mindset to redirect our failures into wins, and that is just one prime example of our “badassness.” It has definitely been one of the catalysts for much of our growth and success.
3. We are gatekeepers of our culture: The constant
Our company’s culture is a reflection of our CEO’s generosity, our team’s spirit and energy, and our cumulative respect and love for people.
I opened with that line because the culture in its simplest form is ultimately how a company decides which attitudes and behaviors are most important and subsequently creates a work environment based on these values.
The real truth is this: an organization’s culture is largely defined by its leaders. We are grateful that we are led at QualityWorks with generosity and openness. Our culture is built on values such as respect, flexibility, encouragement, generosity, and humor. These remain constant when we engage with each other and with our clients. They are core to who we are.
This is what I fell in love with 3 years ago and continue to love every day. I admit there have been moments when we’ve struggled with what we needed to be. These were the moments where we were growing so fast that it almost felt as if we had outgrown the essence of our culture – the loss of which was tangible. Since then, we have been even more deliberate about what we want our culture to inspire, and what we want people to feel when they enter our space. We took the time to really understand and reevaluate who we were and then became gatekeepers of all things essential to our brand.
Being gatekeepers of our culture means that we strategize on how to nurture and protect it. It means we look for people who share the same values and behaviors, and we invite them into our work family. It also means we listen to what our team (past and present) says about their experience, because we know this is one of the most important measures of our cultural stability and evolution.
I believe our success has also been fueled by our ability to understand who we are culturally and our willingness to listen to those who experience it. To this day, every employee survey we have done has indicated that our culture is the most impactful and appreciated aspect of QualityWorks.
4. Our future: The reward
Becoming QualityWorks is not something that happened by accident. Where we are today is not a result of sheer luck. The catalysts of our success – the foundation, the game changer, the constant – are a result of our commitment to becoming better every day. It is also a result of strategically building a really great team who are drivers and gatekeepers of our culture and everything we stand for.
So how do we continue to evolve and be even more successful?
The answer to that is quite simple. We practice continuity…and then some. We continue to put our team first, we continue to turn our failure into opportunities, we continue to make a positive impact, we continue to nurture our culture and…then some.
This has been an exceptionally long 5 years and an even longer 10 years, but who we are, where we are now, and the team that we have are the best rewards of this journey. The hardest part was figuring out what was in our DNA and that – I am pretty sure – is simply a heavy dose of BADASSNESS!!