A new employee walking in the door at OBT on their first day can feel a bit like they’re entering an elite combat military ‘boot camp’ or ‘selection’ course.
That’s because we hire and train our people as ‘elite operators’ who can go solo when needed, or be the point of the spear in their small but out-performing team of equally high-calibre recruits. We don’t have quirky designer playpens, breakfast buffets or any of the accoutrements popular in campus-style workplaces.
Every day and in every way, when we come into work we mean business. That means we carry our own gear, learn out in the real world, and develop close bonds of collegiate trust.
The ‘OBT Way’ is a conscious culture of mutual respect, shared values and an understanding that we exist to touch the lives of others by making the world we leave better than how we found it.
So we put a premium on people who exhibit empathy and are technically competent while remaining humble and trustworthy. It’s not always easy to work here because we expect every employee to show up, level up and step up every day.
Everyone at OBT holds a shared vision of our values, our customers and our collective place in the world through the following behavioural traits:
1. Exhibits emotional maturity & empathy — How we treat each other, our customers and those for whom we care determines our success as individuals and as a business. We feel empathy for others and relieve their burden, whether that’s picking up the slack when a colleague or customer is struggling or helping friends and family.
2. Demonstrates willingness to learn & grow — The OBTer is always learning, always seeking to become more of themselves today than they were yesterday. We hire and promote in large part on how willing someone is to learn and grow. That means a willingness to share what they know and feel with people who matter around them.
3. Keen to put in the ‘hard graft’ — No one unwilling to work hard has ever succeeded. So we ask job candidates if they are willing to work 100 hours a week. None of our employees has come close to that mark but we hire for their willingness because we need to know we can rely on each other when a shoulder or shoulders are put to the wheel.
4. Presents cognitive skills, creative problem-solving & technical competence — Investing long hours alone won’t shift the needle on our mission to deliver excellence in IT solutions to our customers or meet our existential commitment to improve the world. Working with the expectation that we will make positive impacts is alloyed to working hard.
5. Aspires to lead especially in the smallest things — Each OBTer has a seed of leadership, and opportunity every day to lead on some level. We only hand someone as much responsibility as we feel they can handle. That may mean we put them on a fast track to see how they handle pressure, grow as individuals and build a ‘trust momentum’ with their peers, managers, and customers.
6. Shows humility & patience — Building credibility and ‘trustability’ doesn't happen in a microwave and a documented history of success takes time. ‘Hot shots’ may feel stymied by our approach but we seek to ensure that the individual, their team and our customers are collaborating comfortably and that requires the OBTer to be humble and patient.
7. Displays trustworthiness & transparency — ‘To err is human, but to persist in error is diabolical’. At OBT we don’t pretend to be perfect. We mess up. Sometimes very badly. To retain trust and build character we must candidly admit our flaws and transparently fix mistakes without excuse or obfuscation.
8. Seeks guidance & accepts constructive criticism gracefully — None of us is the repository of all wisdom and there will be times we must hear hard truths just to keep going. Receiving constructive criticism is critical to our success, and we try to offer it sensitively without blame or finger pointing (that’s a work in progress, but we’re getting better).
9. Thrives in a team while striving for shared success — People are social animals and, as such, we tend to accomplish most great things as a group striving together for a common goal. It’s perhaps the single, greatest defining characteristic of the human race and it’s essential to thrive at OBT.
10. Participates, doesn’t spectate — OBT is a collective of doers. We don’t stand on the sidelines watching and commenting; we’re out on the field and playing in the game to win it. Only by actively participating in our careers, customer and personal relationships will we reach fulfillment.
Doubtless we could have included any number of other traits or behaviours and it’s not to say that OBT holds the monopoly on creating a successful culture. For instance, we could have added adherence to professional ethics and standards, honesty, and care for the environment — but they just go without saying.
What personal or professional traits do you think make for a successful culture that respects people and improves the world?