How do we communicate openly and honestly

2nd Cloudflight Value Month – Should a company deal with values? Would we do better if we spend the time working on projects and earning money? My personal answer is a clear “Yes, we should nurture our values!”

Values and projects

Why does it really matter, whether a company is dealing with values and investing time on that topic? Does this really pay off? Or would we do better if we spend the time working on projects and earning money?  A pragmatic answer may be: “It depends!” My personal answer is a clear “Yes!” and to the second one “Let there be a healthy relationship between operational and strategic activities”

Be exceptional

It really makes the difference between being a company of “eagles” or of “ants” – of being excellent and exceptional or just average. Why do I think so? When people work together and stick to the same values, they behave similarly and are more predictable to each other. This helps minimize misunderstandings and conflicts, and hence to focus on the really relevant things. Therefore the output increases. Only common values turn a group of people into a real team. Here all the members are supported and protected, they can feel safe and confident. Colleagues who do not fit into the culture are disgorged by the community quite quickly. Here, it is not so important which concrete values you have but that everybody follows and lives by the same values!

Discovered values

We at Cloudflight have already invested time and energy to find out which things are really important for us. So, we have discovered our values –and not determined them. Now, it is essential to anchor them in everybody’s mind and to really make them a substantial part of our DNA. This doesn’t happen without permanently working on this topic and “training” hard for them.

Values as proteins

August was the value month of “We communicate openly and honestly”. And we tried to prepare to serve a “healthy meal” to our colleagues, which helped us to grow in the right direction. 

Let’s take a look once again at the question of operational and strategic approach. While operational activities are important and necessary for each company to earn money (similar to carbohydrates, which provide the human body with quick available energy), the strategy led by values are the essential proteins. Proteins build up the muscles and are the basis of strength. Without (hard) training all proteins will prove insufficient! This is why we have our Value-Months-campaign.

Preparations in July

So what was required for this? We needed a handful of motivated cooks (people), a bunch of ideas, the right ingredients, and a location to offer and serve the meal. So we met in the middle of July for our first brainstorming-session. After some intensive discussions we decided to focus on the following three topics: feedback, difficult communication, and written communication.

Feedback challenge & internal panel discussion

Therefore we invited everybody to join our feedback challenge. Every Monday we posted a 5-step challenge around the following topics: giving positive feedback, giving constructive feedback, asking for & receiving feedback, and making use of feedback. The goal was to get a different perspective on the biases “no feedback is good feedback”, “feedback just happens”, “you should only give positive feedback”. At the end of the month, we completed this subject with our first company-wide panel discussion (the panel discussion took place online, due to the pandemic context.)

feedback challenge

Difficult communication

The second thematic focus was about difficult and ambiguous communication: Open and honest communication (be it verbal, written, etc.) is not something that comes natural to us. Even though we think that we have everything under control regarding what we are saying, we are largely commanded by our subconscious. Perceptions and impressions rule our behavior in more ways than we admit. We dealt with this topic by offering the chance to participate in a series of talks concerning non-violent communication &  biases and fallacies. We rounded off with a formal debate: its proposition was that “No one should be anonymous on the internet”. Two teams battled it out, trying to convince both their opponents and the audience, who acted as a jury. There were many lessons to be learned here to be learned here, both for the debaters as well as for listeners.

no one should be anonymous on the internet

Distributed teams – written communication

Moreover, written communication is a very present topic when it comes to communicating openly and honestly. We at Cloudflight celebrate our distributed teams and cross-location collaboration. For us, it is important that relevant information is available for everybody at any time in a digital form. So, we created a task-force to see what can be improved:  designing a new high-level structure (to make finding relevant information easier) and getting rid of obsolete information. These activities are not to be stopped with the end of August, but will continue as a permanent optimization-process in the future as well.

Practice makes the master

Lots of activities have been done during our second value month, and we are proud of it. It took a lot of effort, reliability, availability, engagement, passion, and the willingness to grow actively with Cloudflight to make this happen.

Values guide our way of acting. Hence, in the end, the values determine what we are doing and how we are doing things in order to achieve our goals. It really makes a difference! Now it’s on us to live by our values. But like almost everything in life, one can only master something, once they have gained the experience of repetitive practice. So let us take the chance and understand the value-months-campaign as a fitness program that will allow us to become world-champions in value-minded players!


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