How we foster individual growth with autonomy, feedback, and guidance
At Gini, we want to create happy employees and excellent products. Based on the assumption that individual growth is a key factor for motivation, enabling each person at Gini to reach their maximum potential is crucial. This is why we not only support, but expect individual growth and development from each other.
We are convinced that our basic qualities are things we can cultivate through our efforts — that we are not limited to a fixed amount of skills and talents. We strive for continuous growth and learning by stretching ourselves and sticking to it, even — or especially — when it’s not going well. We want to enable every Gini to become their best, knowing that individual growth has no final destination. It’s a journey — a lifelong discipline.
How we foster individual growth revolves around three aspects: autonomy, feedback, and guidance.
We think of the freedom and options for growth and development as a wide-open green field. No beaten paths you have to follow. Certainly no ladder in sight you are supposed to climb. Lots of space to explore.
We believe that every Gini has the intrinsic motivation to grow and become better at what they do. At the same time, each of us has a unique combination of strengths that, if utilized optimally, will maximize each Gini’s contribution and impact. If this is true, forcing ourselves on fixed development paths will not cater for optimal growth for most of us. Instead, it would limit growth and make people feel out of place as we try to force them on the same path.
We create this autonomy with two mechanisms: a learning budget and a way to switch roles and positions.
Every Gini has a default learning budget of 5 days and € 2.5k to spend each year on their individual development and growth. With the learning budget, we have in mind learning in its original meaning of expanding one’s capacity to create. This generally involves theory and practice. Everyone is free to do with their budget whatever they think will help them grow, as long as they make it transparent in a shared spreadsheet and be open to the enquiry of their peers.
While there are plenty of options to take on additional responsibility, we also offer options for each Gini to transform completely how they are contributing value. The intention is to avoid anybody feeling stuck in a certain position and seeing leaving the company as the only possibility to break out of it. In order to help Ginis work in their perfect position at any given time while also ensuring continuity of ongoing work, we established a process for smoothly switching roles and positions.
On our journeys through the open fields, we stop from time to time: To take a moment to rest and reflect. To look back where we have come from. To assess how far we have come. To celebrate our achievements. To realign with the rest of the company. And to look forward figuring out where to head next.
We do this with mechanisms for showing each other appreciation, giving each other advice, and evaluating each others’ performance. In our structure of cross-functional academies, these mechanisms are all peer-to-peer based.
Without seniority titles or power hierarchies, it is less obvious how to acknowledge and appreciate the progress of individuals and who has the mandate to do so. We are not all the same in the way we can receive and accept recognition. What feels very meaningful to one person, may feel indifferent or even awkward to another. People respond very differently to words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, physical touch, or receiving gifts. We identify the individually most powerful sources of recognition and use various tools to recognize appreciated behavior. And, once a year, each Gini self-reflects and describes their own contributions, impact and development in the previous 12 months and adds to the picture with support from their peers.
Our feedback mechanism is a specific case of the advice process. Ginis ask experts (e.g. people in their faculty) and people affected (e.g. people in their academy) for advice on their personal and professional development. Ginis pick their own diverse peer group in order to get a broad perspective. They meet with them every six months to get regular feedback. The received feedback is theirs and theirs alone, they decide what to do with it. There is no obligation to share with anyone.
At the moment, performance evaluation and salary setting still lie with a small group of people who know all salaries. We are currently working on making this more decentralized.
Sometimes the uncertainty that accompanies the freedom of the wide-open field of autonomy can feel a bit daunting and people might feel alone and lost. Not knowing where to go next, we may be plagued with questions like “Where am I going?”, “Is there a destination?”, “How far am I from it?” The scary part is, we don’t know everyone’s destinations either. But the good news is, each of us has guides to help us figure out in which direction we want to go. They help us zoom out, read the terrain, orient ourselves, and figure out our next steps.
We provide this guidance through three roles: stewards, coaches, and mentors.
Every Gini has a steward. A steward is a Gini’s personal contact to the organization. A steward supports the growth of an individual Gini through guidance within the organization and sparring of growth options. Most often this happens through regular 1-on-1 sessions. Stewards are not managers or supervisors that track someone’s workload, assign them tasks and do their performance evaluation. They are guides for a Gini’s development within our organization. Becoming a steward is not a promotion in the traditional sense where someone switches to people management for a department of experts. We see it as someone taking on a role because they have great people and coaching skills, not because they excelled at a different role. This is just one — not the — option to show leadership within Gini.
Every Gini can book sessions to work on personal development topics with a professional business coach that is at our office each Friday. This external view from an experienced coach has proven very valuable to work on personal development within Gini and beyond.
Every Gini may pick one or several mentors to support them in their professional development. A mentor is a consultant or trainer for specific knowledge and skills. Ginis pick mentors that are more knowledgeable and that inspire them to become better in areas they want to explore. We have the general concept of a mentor, but we are currently not making full use of it. This is still very much work in progress.
We hope that the autonomy we offer, paired with the feedback provided by one’s peers, and the guidance through support roles, will enable each of us to become our personal best and have maximum impact within Gini and for the people we serve with our products. We believe that this growth and impact is one of the major contributors to a fulfilled (work) life and will create happy people :)
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If this sounds like an environment where you would thrive, have a look at our open positions and get in touch. We are looking for people to join us on our mission.
At Gini, we want our posts, articles, guides, white papers and press releases to reach everyone. Therefore, we emphasize that both female, male, and other gender identities are explicitly addressed in them. All references to persons refer to all genders, even when the generic masculine is used in content.