I have been working at Wholegrain Digital for almost four years now, which is a long time in the life of a web design agency, and I’ve been lucky to have been part of exciting times such as our B Corporation certification, our 10 year anniversary and the launch of our website carbon calculator.
Over the years lots of things have changed, which keeps things interesting! I do like consistency though, and one thing that has remained constant throughout, and that I always talk about when describing my work to friends and family, is that the Wholegrain team are a fantastic bunch of people to work with.
The team itself is probably what has changed the most, and the team I currently work with is made up of different people to those I started with (apart from our Managing Director Tom and Design Director Vineeta of course!) but every iteration of the team has had the same positive team spirit that make showing up to work not only enjoyable, but something I actively look forward to each week.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about why that is: what is it that makes the team the same, even when it’s different? What makes for such a great team?
This post looks at three elements that I think make for a great team, based on my time at Wholegrain.
1. The team is a ‘tribe’
“Tribes are about faith – about belief in an idea and in a community. And they are grounded in respect and admiration for the leader of the tribe and for the other members as well.”
The business world is leaning more and more towards this ‘tribe’ mentality. People now don’t just want a ‘job’, but to be part of something bigger, to do work that they really believe in, and to make a positive difference in the world. This is apparent with the growing number of companies certifying as B Corporations (including us, two years ago!), and bringing their values to the forefront of their work.
Wholegrain definitely embodies this, with a team made up of passionate people, who are all working towards a shared vision for a more sustainable world both in and out of work. This is apparent whether we’re relaxing over dinner, talking about things that inspire and motivate us, or coming together for a fun team day, when we tend to choose activities that will make a difference to others.
Every day that we work together, I see evidence of the Wholegrain team as a tribe of people with similar core values, who each respect and admire the individual input that every team member brings to the table.
2. A Culture of Caring
We’ve talked before about how caring is our core business, and this starts from the inside. The Wholegrain team is made up of people to whom caring comes naturally. It is simply part of who we are.
You know when you walk into the office and someone says “How was your weekend?” These guys actually want to know. And if it was a bit rubbish, they genuinely care and will offer something to help you feel better – a hug, a coffee, a way of reframing your experience, or just the feeling of being heard.
And because we all care, this helps to foster an environment where everyone is always ready to help each other out when needed, which brings me on to…
3. Shared responsibility
In my time at Wholegrain, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say “but that’s not my job.” Of course, we all have specific skill sets relevant to our job titles but we all help each other out whenever needed, in whatever ways we can.
As a parent, there have been a few times that family responsibilities have had to take precedence, and while I always make sure that I prioritise my workload, I have taken full advantage of Wholegrain’s flexible working policy over the years!
This has sometimes meant working very odd hours and/or reduced hours for short periods. During such times, other team members never complain, and in fact many have even offered their time to help more than I would have ever asked for! And we all have this attitude – if something needs doing, then we’ll work together to make sure it gets done.
This shared responsibility means that we share learnings with each other in situations that may not have gone as we’d hoped, and ensures that we all feel a part of every success we have as a company, regardless of our personal contribution.
This team spirit lives in all of the people who make up (and have made up) the Wholegrain team, past, present and, I’m sure, future.
Great teams empower you to do great work
If I had to sum up what makes The Wholegrain team great in one point, it’s the first one: the team is a tribe.
I mention Seth Godin’s definition of what makes a tribe first, as I really believe that Wholegrain is more than an agency; it’s a tribe of like-minded people united by a common purpose – to have a positive impact on the world.
And it’s this individual and collective passion that has, and continues to, inspire and motivate me every day.