No output? Bad results? Your culture is screwed? Chaos is part of your daily work? Your colleagues are frustrated?

Within 4 months we achieved a jump of our employee NPS from -80 to +20, while scaling the team size from 20 to 40 at the same time. Read in this article which tool set we implemented at finreach solutions in order to build a best-in-class company framework and how we created a new mindset and culture in parallel.

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Everything starts with implementing the eNPS

First of all the c-level and the leadership team has to be aware that there is a problem and also has to accept this. The employee NPS reflects how likely employees will recommend your company as a good place to work and is one of the easiest ways to measure overall employee happiness. Also, the eNPS helps in terms of transparency and internal communication. We conduct the eNPS survey once a month. More about eNPS

Gallup Q12 to identify areas of improvements

At finreach solutions we use the eNPS is a "high level health indicator" on company and department level. In order to identify concrete areas of improvements, we implemented in addition the Gallup Q12 Employee Engagement Survey. Gallup's Q12 survey is the most effective measure of employee engagement and its impact on the outcomes that matter most to your business. We conduct the Q12 survey once a quarter and focus only on 1 or 2 questions with actions initiated by the leaders. More about Q12 - Implement Gallup Q12

Our first eNPS survey showed us that we were facing the following key problems

  • Too many changes at c-level
  • No vision or purpose for my work
  • Lack of leadership
  • No focus, no processes, just fire fighting
  • Uncertainty regarding roles and areas of responsibilities
  • High employee turnover rate

Our Answer: The finreach solutions Company Framework

  • More details for each headline in the following subsections below

1.   Vision & Mission

2.   Company Values

3.   OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) for company level and all leadership roles + all sales team members

4.   Re-starting engineering team in an agile manner

5.   Data Driven Product Management & START WITH WHY

6.   Building and Implementing a Mode of Operation

7.   Weekly All Hands Stand Up

8.   Regular 1to1 meetings with every team member and corresponding leadership role

1. Vision & Mission

It is very hard to find a good vision and mission on company level that is able to give a clear purpose for every team member and that is able to last for the next couple of years at the same time. During our research we found out, that good company visions are answering the following key questions in one phrase: What is your company doing? Which problem do you solve for your customers? What is your key customer segment? What is your dedicated target market (the world, continents or countries)? And, in addition there is an essence of an „ultimate long-term goal“ in it, that is far away or even seems to be not reachable from today‘s perspective.

This is how we ended up with our company vision:

"To Unlock Consumer Financial Potential With One Click"

2. Company Values

A lot of companies that are talking about their values, don’t really have them in place, right? To me it's often more wishful thinking... However, it's a good idea to think about what kind of values do you need to achieve your company vision! We applied our company values to the recruiting process and to our regular 1to1 feedback sessions.

If you want to build something big, the company values are not there to describe your current culture - It's more about which kind of mindset everyone in the company should live in order to have an impact on achieving the vision "

3. OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) for company level and all leadership roles + all sales team members

One of the biggest problems within growing organization is lack of alignment when it comes to prioritization of what matters most in order to achieve the expected outcome and commercial milestones for the company. Especially agile frameworks and self organized teams can lead to distraction if "agility" is not implemented properly or if team members have don't have enough experience with it.

"OKRs enable the whole organization to focus on business critical outcomes and results"

Why do we work with OKRs?

  • OKRs enable us to really focus on what matters most
  • OKRs help employees and leaders to make conscious, careful, and informed choices about how to allocate time and energy
  • OKRs align the whole company in terms of: Identifying the most important tasks (WHAT) - Figuring out the best approach to deliver them (HOW)
  • OKRs are developed in a framework in which everyone can contribute
  • OKRs help us to communicate, measure, achieve and pivot our big goals
  • OKRs provide full transparency to the whole team
  • OKRs sets the agenda for our department and leadership meetings

How we combine OKRs with Scrum and self organized teams

We use OKRs on leadership level (mandatory) and for all roles that do not work in Scrum teams. All leaders and OKR owners can decide on their own what is the best way to achieve their OKRs. This means that for example our scrum teams still work self organized with team goals. However, key roles like Product Owners have to make sure that their decisions and focus of the teams are aligned with their OKRs. In the sales teams, every team member has their own OKR set.

How we make OKRs sexy

OKRs can be so boring when you use long excel sheets. It can become an annoying routine work that is more about number crunching... We found a good and nice looking tool (perdoo) that also feeds our slack channel with realtime updates, so that the whole organization can follow.

More input: All details about OKRs

4. Re-starting engineering team in an agile manner

Being a FinTech company means that “Tech” is an essential part of your organization. While rebooting finreach solutions as a whole, we also had to restart our Engineering department’s processes almost from scratch. Considering the complexity of our product and its current state, we decided to do it using the Scrum framework. As a result, we have separated our Engineers into two cross-functional multi-disciplinary teams formed around our products - the new FinTech API Platform we are currently working on and our original SwitchKit offering. Now, half a year of continuous inspection & adaptation later, the number of teams we have increased, and each of them has its specific process in place based on tools & practices from multiple agile frameworks. This includes engineering practices from Extreme Programming (XP), flow management from Kanban on top of Scrum.

5. Data Driven Product Management & START WITH WHY

Product Management is the key function to drive innovation to the organization and earning the trust of the stakeholders by defining the right direction for the company.

We had to drive our eNPS correlated with our revenue stream. So, we decided to start to scale our engineering and product team with a proper mode of operation around requirement engineering. During this time we started to implement the data driven product management framework by Marvin L. Patterson.

Product, Engineering and Operation started working closer and also at higher speed level. It ended up at +27 eNPS result for the Product Management & Engineering teams. Beside that we increased our ARR 35% in 5 months and almost 100% after 8-9 months.

Regarding the framework, we started to evaluate new technologies and trends, market research, competitor market intelligence, internal feedback, digital analytics and customer feedback. We moved these inputs in a transparent evaluation model and built a business value calculation flow with our internal stakeholders. This had a strong impact on the quality of requirement engineering and opportunity discovery of the company. We had a chance to evaluate requirements with different perspectives of data to give the most accurate decision.

Accurate and transparent decisions also contributed a lot to our “delivering” culture. Teams started to take and give feedback transparently and work on the velocity issues or other team issues all together with a strong ownership. Instead of top down decisions, we had a chance to give mandates to each employee and leadership team and enabled other teams to act as a controlling point regarding our mode of operation. Implementing proper agile methodologies and defining the border between product management and engineering increased the ownership of the team from requirement engineering to system design to development.

Transparent communication and roadmap with business value helped the team to understand WHY we are doing these things and where are we going. Also, we supported this mode of operation with "START WITH WHY" sessions.

6. Building and Implementing a Mode of Operation

A proper mode of operation is one of the key success factors for healthy, motivated and scalable teams. We decided to discover all our pain points and cover them with a mode of operation with our Product Management and Engineering teams. We organized a workshop and explained the importance and we decided to focus on the listed topics as a first stage:

  • Requirement Engineering Standards
  • Journey of User Story between Product and Engineering teams
  • Bug Report Handling
  • System Design and Ownership
  • Collaboration between team members and GUILDs
  • Performance Monitoring Metrics
  • Definition of Done

Besides, the IT Operations and Customer Service Teams built and aligned their mode of operation accordingly to have a customer centric view. Happy customers brought happy team and working environment. Thanks to this approach, our roadmap and engineering effort started to match with customer and market needs and expectations. The teams started to measure the success of this approach by metrics which are relevant with request or ticket journey.

7. Weekly All Hands Stand Up

To tackle the issue of transparency and consistency that was mentioned before, we re-implemented the all hands. In fact, all hands existed before, however it was not consistent and it was only up to the leaders of the company to inform about what’s happening.

The new all hands set-up was put in place in September, where all the different departments have a 5 mins slot to update the rest on what’s happening. We made sure to have it every week and have a rotation of speakers, so that people feel involved in what is happening.

We are still iterating on the format, and the timing; in the beginning, we had it every Tuesday, followed by a breakfast (where two team members gets selected to prepare it) but the morning all hands conflicted with the 10AM standups. So we switched it to every Thursday at 4:30PM, followed by some healthy snacks. We are still iterating the concept based on the feedback from our team members; so far it has been great to see how many are proposing solutions directly, about he we can improve our All Hands.

The great thing about the all hands set-up that we have, is that it is open for conversations, people feel comfortable to ask their questions openly and share any doubts or positive comments.

8. Regular 1to1 meetings with every team member and corresponding leadership role

With the many changes that occurred and the void of leadership for a long period of time, people had no clarity when it came to their roles and felt that their concerns were not heard.

We quickly identified that the most important action item was to fill those crucial leadership roles. So we identified the key hires for the management team - fixing the first issue of lack of leadership - and then right after, we incorporated continuous 1-1 on a (bi)-weekly basis.

With different leadership styles, 1-1s of course differ, however as a starting point for these conversations, we advised the leaders to at least cover the following 2 questions:

1.   What can you (as an individual) do to take action or make progress on what we talked about today?

2.   What can I (as a supervisor) do to take action or make progress on what we talked about today?

We found that even with self organized teams, 1-1s are still crucial, it’s important that people have someone to talk to and to know that they have at least 30 mins per week or every two weeks when someone will be actively listening to them and checking on them. We know trust is not built in a day, and thus overtime 1-1s have become one of the most important leadership tools to enable every finreacher to feel comfortable to discuss the issues and concerns on their mind and further built an employee - supervisor relationship.

In conclusion, we are proud of this change. And, we expect more changes to come with our merger of finreach solutions & figo.