The nonprofit values and culture lessons we’ve learned that make us one of a kind.
At New Story, culture is #1. In the past year, we’ve grown significantly — increasing from 10 team members at the end of last year, to a projected 20 by the end of 2018. While we welcome each new team member with excitement, every nonprofit hire represents either a growth opportunity or a liability to our most significant asset, our culture. A 100% increase in size is challenging for any organization to navigate, and for a small nonprofit start-up, it’s even more dangerous territory. How do we leverage this season of growth so our nonprofit values and culture not only survive but even thrive in the transition?
While we don’t have it all figured out, here are a couple of strategies we’ve used so far.
Ask for value and culture feedback regularly.
This quarter, we conducted an internal survey, which gave us a clear picture of the biggest cultural issues we needed to address. The survey asked for feedback on meeting structure, communication, and overall ways to improve New Story across offices, departments, and projects. We learned cross-departmental communication and asking for feedback were two of the areas we most needed to direct our focus.
Grow personal relationships.
Nonprofit team members can effectively communicate when trust and rapport have been established among peers and with leadership. One way we’ve found to enable this within New Story is through “Hang 10s” — short, 10-minute hangout sessions between two team members. Hang 10s have no specific agenda other than for team members to get to know each other, discuss passions outside of work, favorite hobbies, and what we’re learning. Hang 10s are especially helpful for a nonprofit team like ours that’s distributed across many physical locations.
Hire for radical ownership.
One of our core values is to be a Team of Founders. Fundamentally, we only hire team members who are willing to take radical ownership of this team and mission, as though they themselves had founded it. When we approach everything with a mentality of ownership, we’re willing to do whatever is needed for the good of the order. We are owners of our own culture. Regardless of position, team members must help grow, improve, and see goals through to completion.
Celebrate our culture. Develop clear nonprofit values.
Every Friday during our team call, we have what we call “Rapid Fire Value Shoutouts,” where every team member shouts out a fellow team member for exemplifying any of our six core nonprofit values: Express Gratitude and Empathy; Think Big, Break Down, Execute; Simplify; Improve Through Learning; Humble Pursuit of Excellence; and Team of Founders. Celebrating each other for these values allows us to hear, out loud, what team members are doing to uphold the culture we’re building. It’s a clear and present reminder that “people like us do things like this.”
We value our culture because we understand that it’s our most important assets. No matter what we create or execute, it’s our team putting in the work. We believe we must be deliberate and intentional to resist complacency across departments and offices. Our nonprofit leadership and team never stop asking, how can our organization improve and protect our culture?
If our team of founders culture and values resonate with you, we’d love to connect! Visit our careers page to browse the current roles we’re hiring for!