Learning Culture

What culture do we want and why?

Just like all the books that we read (such as “Brave New Work”, “The Advantage”, “Turn the Ship Around”, “The Infinite Game”, etc.) say, we believe in creating a culture where everyone feels safe, trusted, and empowered. In an environment where we can speak up and feedback flows continuously, we are convinced that we will accomplish much greater things as individuals and as a team. Getting this right leads to realising our ultimate goal: to become an unparalleled Learning Culture where we learn and grow as people in our crafts and together in our teams, advancing SumUp for the years to come.

What are the values and behaviours of SumUp that we can build this Learning Culture upon?

The SumUp values (Founder’s Mentality, Team First, We Care) implicitly have behaviours connected to them that we all embody and strive towards:

Humble; we are selfless, optimising for SumUp and our merchants, not ourselves. We acknowledge our weaknesses and mistakes and learn from them and each other. 

Transparency & Candour: we go out of our way to give full context and share transparently. We strive for radical candour – even if uncomfortable. 

Enjoy the Ride: we truly enjoy spending time with each other. Don’t take yourself too seriously and have fun! 

Autonomy & Empowerment: we empower autonomous teams that work in parallel and pursue a mission. We trust them to make their own decisions and get the job done. 

Teams over individuals, No Silos: we believe magic happens when groups of people become true teams – and the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. We go out of our way to break silos.  

Servant leadership: we believe a leader's main role is to inspire, enable, develop, and support their teams. We are not afraid to hire a "boss" for ourselves. 

Do More with Less: we think and act like founders and invest wisely, as if with our own time and money.  

Decisive Pragmatism: we use a pragmatic approach and avoid overthinking. We roll up our sleeves and get things done. 

Self-Driven: we find motivation within ourselves. We are proactive. We anticipate problems and come up with solutions. We have a “can-do” attitude.

How can Leaders help shape this Learning Culture?

We expect everyone to think like leaders and work together to create a safe environment for all SumUppers. People with leadership responsibilities of others as part of their role have a huge responsibility in shaping the culture and improving SumUp; we entrust them (additionally) with the following:

We build great teams: “Hire great talent that will make SumUp better and could be a great fit in any team in the future.”  

Behaviours we practise: We identify skill gaps. We forecast future needs and take ownership of bringing new excellent talent to SumUp. We practise diverse and inclusive hiring. We ensure new talent complements SumUp’s values and adds to the culture. We create team cohesion can sense tensions and nurture healthy conflicts. We align and motivate the team so everyone pulls in the same direction. We set up rituals and ensure team hygiene is not neglected and is constantly iterated upon as the team evolves and new members join.

We care for our teams and put them first; “Stand behind your team when times are good and in front of them when times are tough.” 

Behaviours we practise: We communicate clearly, timely, and empathetically and practise active listening. We promote collaboration inside and outside of our team. We prioritise developing our team members' skills and rewarding them as they grow. We practise regular recognition. We develop our own feedback skills (giving & receiving). We are humble. We constantly learn. We self-regulate our own emotions in difficult situations. We grow comfortable in our own skin in order to (for example) develop, coach, and promote talent even above ourselves. 

We help our teams to have an impact; “Be able to get stuff done, rally your team behind a goal, set expectations of delivery and then deliver high quality regardless of constraints (such as time, budgets, hiring, etc) and still have a strong team spirit when the work is done.” 

Behaviours we practise: We inspire our teams to aim higher while fully understanding what the team can deliver. We inspire loyalty, ownership, and accountability and can hold accountability while maintaining motivation. We can be commanding to bring our teams out of a chaotic domain when necessary. We can break complex tasks down into smaller, prioritised steps. We can show and demonstrate progress simply to anyone. We demonstrate versatility; we can change our approach to get the best out of our teams. We can create an environment where our team is not afraid to fail, but they know they must learn from failure and grow. We create clarity (jump into detail if necessary, but also abstract and see the bigger picture and how our team fits into the larger ecosystem without getting lost).

What other elements are key to shaping a Learning Culture?

Trust. How do we build trust? Trust = Consistency over time. This takes all of us embodying the values and behaviours we have established and giving clear and timely feedback to one another when we see that these values and behaviours are not being lived up to. 

Feedback is at the core of building a healthy and high-performing organisation. At SumUp, we aim to create a culture where feedback and Radical Candor are the norms. In simple terms, we strive to be a company where open, immediate, and constructive feedback is continuous throughout the year, allowing everyone to self-reflect, grow and learn.

For giving and receiving feedback to become a habit, we must commit to consistent feedback, training, and practice as a company. When we care about each other, we prioritise giving feedback, and the more we practise, the better we become and the more trust we build.

In closing…..

If we get all of these things flowing within the culture of SumUp, then we become self-reflective, we understand our strengths and weaknesses and we know what we have to learn. We also feel safe to try to learn those things and we see a future for ourselves here at SumUp and we grow together.