How 3 Fast-Growing Teams Slow Down to Cultivate Culture

While it can be easy to speed from one project to the next, taking a moment to celebrate accomplishments is where team culture can bloom.
June 6, 2022Updated: June 6, 2022

It’s no secret: Tech companies move fast. The pressure to develop the most efficient solution and be the first to the market is unrelenting. But the constant focus on innovation alone doesn’t build a culture that retains and attracts top talent — even when paired with career development opportunities that benefit both the employee and the company’s progression. 

Why? Because you can’t build culture when you’re moving at the speed of light. 

Even fast-growth companies need to take the time to slow down, look in the rearview mirror and celebrate accomplishments — that’s often when genuine team culture has room to grow. “There will always be another project,” said Jamie Lau, a software engineer at Lattice, “so it’s important to take the time to appreciate team wins.” 

These little moments of pause show gratitude and support from across the team and the company at large in an intentional way, sparking renewed focus and a collaborative spirit to tackle the next challenge. In fact, at T-REX, the team takes time every other week to acknowledge each other’s work and accomplishments, and it’s one of Relationship Manager Olivia Dellicicchi’s favorite company traditions. 

Culture often develops naturally, which is why Patrice Kiely, people and culture lead at Flourish, noted that trying to build it deliberately can come across as inauthentic. Built In NYC sat down with her, Lau and Dellicicchi to learn the ways in which their companies make time to celebrate and set the right tone for genuine team cultures to bloom.

 

Jamie Lau
Software Engineer  • Lattice

 

Lattice is a human resources tech company that enables leaders to manage employee performance reviews, engagement and career growth. 

 

What makes up a good team culture, and what are some ways you and your team bring those elements to life?

One of the characteristics we prioritize is empathy. Working with empathy means we support each other to reach goals, move fast but with realistic timelines, and operate on trust and good intentions. 

In our engineering sprints, we have blameless reflection meetings. We take the person out of the equation to focus on the issue and how we can improve the situation. We prioritize making space for learning and asking questions. My team has forums for knowledge sharing and discussion as well as weekly whiteboarding and pair-programming time. 

When I get constructive feedback, I know it’s coming from someone’s best intentions and that the giver wants to resolve an issue and help me grow. We regularly request and give feedback instead of relying on performance reviews once or twice a year.

We support each other to reach goals, move fast but with realistic timelines, and operate on trust and good intentions.”

 

How do you ensure members of your team continue to feel challenged, engaged and excited by the work they’re doing?

I work on a career development product within our organization’s platform that provides transparency into employees’ career journeys including advancement paths and actionable development plans. We also use this product internally to help define and track an employee’s growth and what they want to accomplish. 

For example, if a member of our team is excited to work on improving the user interface, we make sure they have the resources and time needed. This growth objective and its associated action items are tracked on the platform, and the manager and employee can check on progress. We encourage our team members to be honest about their interests and have candid conversations so we can help them identify the best opportunities to learn and grow.

 

How does your team celebrate successes? 

Whenever we have a significant release or finish a large project, we get the team together to pause and celebrate. Recently, our engineering pod completed a job architecture framework feature. We held a virtual hangout in which the team recapped the process and gave shoutouts before shifting to some games, including a drawing telephone game that had us all sharing in laughter. 

The hangout encouraged us to stop and recognize the good work we did to successfully evolve the large project from a vague idea to a real product. It was also a great way to make sure we didn’t just plow onto the next thing. 

 

 

Patrice Kiely
People and Culture Lead • Flourish

 

Flourish is a fintech company that helps independent advisors deliver wealth management solutions. 

 

What are the key characteristics of a good team culture, and what are some ways you and your team bring them to life?

When interviewing candidates, it’s fun to be the last interview and hear them say, “Everyone I’ve met with says they love the culture.” Along with our products, our team culture is one of the things that we’re most proud of, and building a world-class team that truly enjoys what they do is key to our mission.

Our work style is execution-focused yet collaborative — this means we take pride in getting high-quality work done, but we are always willing to help each other out. From daily check-in meetings to cross-functional working groups, we believe in open, honest and collaborative communication. 

We frequently challenge each other and constantly iterate in the spirit of bringing the best products to market. Our office walls are whiteboards and teammates are always brainstorming the best ways to build a product, fix a problem or find the best dumpling spot near Madison Square Park. 

 

How do you ensure members of your team continue to feel challenged, engaged and excited by the work they’re doing?

Working at the intersection of finance and cryptocurrency means constant change and constant challenges. Because we’re doing things that have never been done before, no one on our team is repeating what they did in their last role. That means we’re always iterating, collaborating and learning from plenty of mistakes along the way. 

The company sets audacious goals and then leaves individuals to find the fastest route from A to B. We love to celebrate when a thorny problem is solved, a technical challenge is completed and a new release ships to our customers. Doing hard things means we’re building something special, and we all believe in the value of what we are working on.

We love to celebrate when a thorny problem is solved, a technical challenge is completed and a new release ships to our customers.”

 

Do you have any unique team celebrations or traditions to celebrate successes?

From our annual Thanksgiving run to team outings, we believe in celebrating wins and connecting with our teammates. Our Slack channels are exploding with cooking accomplishments, rock climbing events, congratulatory messages, and pictures of pets and kids. Now that we’re back into the office a few days each week, we celebrate birthdays, meet for coffee and get together as a team for lunch on Wednesdays. 

It’s hard to build culture deliberately. People have to be of the same mindset about how they want to work. You can try dictating culture, but that can result in an inauthentic set of standards without true commitment from the team. At Flourish, we set the tone for an environment that’s friendly, collaborative, accountable and supportive, and then let the culture grow from there.

 

 

T-Rex group photo outside with the NYC skyline in the background
T-REX

 

Olivia Dellicicchi
Relationship Manager • T-REX

 

T-REX is a fintech company that standardizes data and automates workflows for alternative asset investment life cycles. 

 

What are the key characteristics of a good team culture, and what are some ways you and your team bring them to life?

The culture is collaborative and supportive. The company cares about the employee as an individual, not just through the lens of their contribution to the product and the development of the company. We embrace differences in opinion and background, and we are encouraged to provide feedback and communicate openly across departments and with leadership.

We embrace differences in opinion and background, and we are encouraged to provide feedback and communicate openly.”

 

How do you ensure members of your team continue to feel challenged, engaged and excited by the work they’re doing?

Our company and product are both constantly growing and evolving, making it an exciting place to work. We are finding ways to expand our product with enhancements and developments to meet the needs of different clients. Employees also have the autonomy to explore the work they are most interested in. Our flat structure offers opportunities for junior team members who are interested in taking on more responsibility, and it also gives us access to roles in different areas of the company.

 

Do you have any unique team celebrations?

A favorite tradition of mine is our semimonthly, companywide meeting where we give shoutouts and appreciation to team members for their hard work and achievements. It’s a great way to casually connect with our colleagues in different offices and hear about the work other teams are doing. Outside of working hours, the company hosts a book club and events such as field days on Governors Island and Thursday happy hours.

 

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