Our clients are B-corp companies with a global mission: to change society and the world. To work with such clients, employees must share similar values.
Our best applicants are people looking for an environment where they can develop and see the bigger picture regarding communication and growth. How do we find them? How do we hire them? Spoiler alert: it doesn't happen fast. We want to become a company where people enjoy evolving into the best versions of themselves in their work and daily lives. At Speed & Function, we're refining this process of hiring and training our staff. But we are confident those interested in self-mastery and self-exploration must walk that road, day in and day out. Here, we'll explore how we vet, hire, and train our people.
Step 1: Embrace imperfection
We embrace imperfection through a lens of tolerance, even as we demand excellence. We understand that neither perfect people nor perfect companies exist, and therefore it's all about finding the right fit where imperfections in both become strengths instead of weaknesses. Our focus is on developing individuals interested in self-improvement, accepting others' (and our own) imperfections, and still holding everyone to delivering solid outcomes. By creating an atmosphere of embracing imperfection that also values hard work, excellence, and deep industry expertise, we allow for imperfections to be our greatest strength rather than our biggest weakness.
Step 2: Demonstrate care
We put empathy and straightforward communication above all in the meeting with the clients. We hear them, feel them, are not shy to speak directly, and help clients raise concerns they may intuit but not have spoken out loud yet. A small example: we have an instruction manual for working with the company founders that explains how to be direct, honest, be vulnerable, and why you should expect the same things from them in return. It's as straightforward and intuitive as an Apple product, which makes working together more precise and enjoyable. Anyone at Speed & Function can create their own instruction manual centered around processes or people. It's important to us that our employees care about more than their interests – we want them to know how to care. When people know how to care, their environment becomes safer – more creative, purposeful, and efficient.
Step 3: Promote self-development
We're open about the fact that our company lives in an accelerating world of change. The average "Speed & Function" employee is changing as well –adapting to the world, learning new skills, learning how to think and act differently, and finding new ways to excel in technology and in human connections. We strive to be more than just another dev shop for our clients. We aim to become a partner, an extension of their teams and businesses. If you're only looking to work a job, get a paycheck, and do not care too much about growth and development, you are not suited for our work style.
We give our employees a lot of freedom, but with that freedom comes the responsibility to be the consummate professional and create impeccable work. We continuously build internal "people first" expertise. In the 16 years since we launched, we've acquired unique experience in custom staff selection and organization. We use unconventional development programs like Spiral Dynamics and conscious approaches to designing work-life processes, such as DDO (Deliberately Developmental Organization).
So, we understand that humans grow and change the way technology does – with care and attention to growth. We also use The Developmental Sprints®, a human technology designed and perfected by decades of Harvard research to guide our [r]evolutionary process. And, of course, we actively rock our co-created cultural boat. That's why the company's founders support or collaborate with staff on piloting and implementing their ideas or projects. We regularly gather feedback on technologies, communications, and management frameworks and integrate them into our processes.
Step 4: Encourage partnerships
Although we do one-off or short-term jobs and projects when clients need them, we prefer to hire and work with people and organizations who are prepared for partnership. We find the most productive and rewarding partners are ones who consciously share Speed & Function's values and mission, seek solutions together, and take responsibility for the results of their work.
We are unusual in that — we view both our employees and clients as partners. Partners help us improve our work by communicating honestly, directly, and skillfully. We teach this new way of being in relationships because it creates closer connections between people and makes work far more efficient and collaborative. By the way, our most effective partners are people who come to IT from other professions. They have a broad perspective and can assess situations from unusual angles and envision unconventional solutions.
We strive to assess our employees' work fairly, regardless of gender or life circumstances. For example, we consider and value mothers for their incredibly highly developed abilities to multitask, resist stress, and negotiate. We're sincerely interested in people who've had their own projects, startups, or businesses because it shows they know how to take responsibility, which is essential to us. Employees are their managers, self-sufficient but also supported when needed. Our overall goal is to convene and coordinate self-organized people to benefit our clients, society, and the world at large.
Step 5: value people, not processes
We have processes but they are flexible ones, not fixed things that must be followed to the letter of the law. Businesses and the world are changing more rapidly than ever before. Approaches that worked yesterday may need to be more effective today and reenvisioned again for tomorrow. We must keep our finger on the pulse of change and remain flexible. That's why we're learning to see beyond tasks and challenges and view mistakes as indispensable to growth. It can allow the best and most innovative solution to present itself, something that a rigid process might inhibit. This approach enables us to maintain elasticity and adaptability.
We value in-house and freelance contributions equally. We have created a habitat for partnerships for years to come. If collaboration with a staff member stops being beneficial to them or the company, we know that team members won’t stagnate with us, and that collaboration with them is still possible in the future (whether with our clients or with us). That's why Speed & Function is about people, not processes.
We embrace change and growth from the bottom up and the top down – from the co-founders to the interns. And we encourage and support everyone in becoming the very best version of themselves.
Everyone wins – Speed & Function, the employee, the client, and the world.