Learning Culture

What Culture are we aiming for 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 we feel safe, trusted and empowered. A place where we can speak up and where feedback flows continuously. We believe that if we all work in this type of environment then we will accomplish much greater things, as individuals and as a team. Getting this working can lead to our ultimate goal, which is, to become an unparalleled Learning Culture where we learn and grow as people, in our crafts, and in our teams. This Learning Culture will be based on all of us growing together, staying together and learning together, which will advance SumUp for the years to come. 

What are the general Values and Behaviours of SumUp that we can build this Learning Culture upon?

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

Humble; we are selfless, optimizing for SumUp, not ourselves. We acknowledge our weaknesses and mistakes and learn from each other. Transparency & Candor; we go out of our way to give full context and share transparently. We strive for radical candor – 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 leaders’ 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 or 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. Are pro-active, anticipate problems and come up with solutions. Have a “can-do” attitude.

How can Leaders shape this Learning Culture?

We ask everyone to think like leaders and it takes every single one of us to try to find ways to make the space as safe as possible for others. People with leadership responsibilities of others as part of their role have a huge responsibility in shaping the culture, we task 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 practice: We show the ability to identify skill gaps. We forecast future needs and take ownership of bringing new talent to SumUp. We practice diverse and inclusive hiring. We ensure new talents complement SumUp’s values and add to the culture. We create cohesion & lasting bonds within our team. We are able to sense tensions and nurture healthy conflicts & heal rifts. We align & motivate the team so that everyone is pulling in the same direction. We set up rituals and ensure team hygiene is not neglected and is constantly iterated upon as the team evolves & 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 practice: We communicate well, timely and empathetically and practice active listening. We promote collaboration inside and outside of our team. We prioritize developing our team members skills (and rewarding them as they grow). We practice 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 are able to get the wider SumUp behind our teams and our objectives/accomplishments.

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

Behaviours we Practice: We inspire our teams to aim higher, whilst understanding fully what the team is capable of delivering. We inspire loyalty, ownership and accountability and are capable of holding accountability whilst maintaining motivation. We are able to be commanding when necessary to bring our teams out of the chaotic domain. We are able to break complex tasks down into smaller, prioritized steps. We are able to show and demonstrate progress simply to anyone. We demonstrate versatility, we are able to change our approach to get the best out of our teams. We are able to create an environment where our team is not afraid to fail, but they know that 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 the Learning Culture?

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

Feedback (as mentioned above) is the other cornerstone of a healthy culture, we must give feedback regularly and not just wait for TAD (Talk Align Develop - our bi-annual feedback method). We must build the muscles and the habits of giving each other feedback continuously. If we wait for twice a year we will never learn and we will never create a Learning Culture.

If we are sure that everyone is speaking their mind and telling each other how they feel and giving & receiving feedback then trust blooms. Because, there are no surprises, shocks or events that hit us like lightning bolts and move us backwards on our learning paths.

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 in the environment to try to learn those things and we see a future for ourselves here at SumUp and we grow together.