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Nourishing a Team Culture Where Everyone Gives Their All

By Christian Jacobsen - Crema
CEO & Co-Founder


By Christian Jacobsen | Co-Founder and CEO - Mon, 02/13/2023 - 11:00

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Loving what you do is something that most people struggle to achieve. It's not easy. It's not meant to be either. 

Loving something you haven't created is not impossible, but it is incredibly difficult. You have to be convinced. Convinced that you really love the work you are doing, the mission you are on, and the value you bring to the table. If you don’t love at least one of these things, it is going to be very hard to keep working. At least at an efficient level where you outperform everyone else. Because if you don't even love the work you are doing, then how are you supposed to be able to go above and beyond for something that doesn't drive you? Something that doesn't make you want to be a different person? 

Speaking from personal experience, I don’t think there has been a period in my life where I have learned more, given more, and explored more than I have in the last year and a half. I have given everything to my company. My time. My energy. My focus. My well-being. And much, much more. And the result has been an incredible odyssey of doing, failing, learning, and doing some more to make my company better. And wow, there is so much more to do. And I am incredibly ready to give what I am to make sure that my company becomes what I know it is capable of becoming. A transcendent venture for Mexico, Latin America and the world. 

But before that, I need to give some more. Some more of what I am. Some more of what I have. And some more of what I am capable of giving. And because it is my company, there is no doubt that I want to, or need to. But, if it wasn’t my company I am not sure I would be able to do the same. If I was working at my own company, but as an associate, would I want to give it my all? Would I be able to? Would I need to? All valid questions, and questions I keep facing every day. Why would my teammates want to give my company their all? An age-old question for everything dealing with human capital. What can I possibly give to change my team's orientation to giving their all. I think that in my case, it is much easier than a huge company. Although we might not have the same resources, my company tends to hit the soul of our associates. We are a small team that knows each other, that sees the impact that each and every one generates. A small company that has the actual owners in charge, that has also given a great chunk of their company to their teammates because we want everyone to have a piece of the company and want everyone to actually be owners. A small company that has soul. An actual culture that has been formed by the team members themselves. A small company that can see the numbers grow day by day, giving them hope, belief, and belonging. A small company that has focused on hiring people who have the problem we are solving. People who have been in the trenches and  struggled with getting paid as a freelancer. 

Yes, that is to our advantage. However, it is not enough. Because it is not their baby. It is not theirs to bring up. Nurture. Educate. If it dies, it's not really their fault. Not really their struggle. If it succeeds, sure, they reap a lot of benefits, but it's not theirs. So how do you make them give you their all? The answer is, you don't. It is not possible. They can come close, but, at the end of the day, they will never be the complete owners. How could they be? And how could you expect it from them? 

Get back to work, and make the best environment for them. An environment where they can thrive. Where they are trusted. Where they feel secure that they can try, fail, and try again without repercussion. An environment where they are valued, where they see their own value, and where they are rewarded for their hard work. It’s not easy creating that. We have certainly not gotten 100% there yet. But what, in my personal opinion, we do well is that we believe in our teammates. We believe they are the ones who can get the job done. We give them time. We trust them. And by doing so, they feel confident in their abilities, and perform much better. In my experience, a team member who doesn’t feel confident in their abilities or who feels that someone doesn’t believe in them is never going to perform well. Yes, they need to feel pressure, sure, but they should never feel that they are going to lose their job if they do something wrong. There is a fine line between radically different outcomes. 

Another thing we try to do is to give our team more important tasks. Not overwhelm them. But give them tasks that might typically be considered advanced. By doing so, we show them that we trust them. If they fail, it’s OK, because it was something new. But if they succeed, that is a win-win. They increase their confidence and skill level. We get more done with the same amount of human capital. And then, they can let someone else take over some tasks that are now for a level below them. It is a nice way of growing the capabilities of the team without actually growing the team. It also gives them a feeling of accomplishment and that with our company, they can grow their skills as the company grows. It creates a greater feeling of belonging. A feeling we want them to feel. Because it ensures better performance. It ensures they care. And that is all we can ever ask for. Because if they don’t care, it doesn’t matter how good they are, they will never outperform. But if they do, that is what they will strive to do. And, they will love what they do, which is what we want them to do. 

Of course there are other things that add on to that love for the company. Compensation, ownership and much more. But, as a startup, your resources are limited. And your most precious resource is the human capital you have. And if they perform, that can be a tremendous advantage against anyone. So, strive for that. And if you can’t compensate them like the FANG companies, then try to make them confident in the work they are doing. It really is a game changer.

Photo by:   Christian Jacobsen

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