The GAN Team Manifesto for Working Together

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” — Lewis Carroll

This is one of my favorite quotes and I bring it up a lot in the office—usually when planning for projects or having other high-level discussions. It’s also something I think about a lot when it comes to how our team works together. We have clear goals for the future, clear values we live by, and a roadmap for the work we’ll do over the next quarter. All of that is clear, concise, and easy to live by. But, we’ve never made a “roadmap” for what it means to work together as a team, so I decided to put something in writing.

I wanted to do this for three reasons:

  1. Having a roadmap in writing allows us to clearly understand the expectations we have for one another.
  2. When someone breaks one of the “practices” in the manifesto, it’s a lot easier to name and discuss it.
  3. It holds two parties accountable: the person who’s being called out and the person who’s frustrated with that individual. Meaning, if someone on the team doesn’t share that they are frustrated, they’re equally at fault as the person who broke the manifesto in the first place. Why? Because they’re not fighting to uphold the practices we all said were important for us to work together.

What We’ve Promised Each Other

For your reference, here’s what we’ve laid out as a team in terms of how we agree to show up in the office together:

We will be motivated by our own, individual, internal drive.
As much as we believe that a good culture is important for the success of our team, no one can force anyone to be driven. Everyone must personally show up with a desire to live out GAN’s mission, values, and goals of their own accord.

We will hold our commitments.
If we don’t hold our commitments to one another, we will lose trust with one another. We’ll stop believing that what we’ve agreed to do will actually happen. We’ll encounter a bunch of inefficiencies as people are forced follow-up with each other in order to make sure stuff actually gets done. So, we do what we say we’re going to do and speak up early and often if we encounter challenges or need help.

We will deliver “Colonel quality” work to one another.
Our team is too small to do the real heavy lifting on each others’ projects, which is why we need to deliver work that is at its highest possible level by the time we deliver it to another team member unless we’ve specifically discussed that it’s in its earliest, messiest form and we’re requesting help. Essentially, work must be developed enough that we’d be proud to put it in public without any further edits, but we’re looking for polishing touches and a second (or third) set of eyes before we do so. We consider this work that a Colonel in the army would think is of appropriate quality to see and use.

We will celebrate one another.
Work can be hard. Which is why we will continually celebrate small and large wins. We will share wins with one another freely and make sure that others know that they have done something amazing when something is worth celebrating.

We will appreciate one another at least weekly.
Each week, we will take 10 minutes as an entire team to thank one another. Everyone will have the chance to thank everyone else for something that happened in the previous week. This will help us realize that each person on the team is, first and foremost, a human being.

We will welcome new team members authentically.
Whenever someone joins our team, we will shut the company down for a day to get to know them. We do this so that the new person will know how much we appreciate them joining our team and that we want to get to know them as a person.

We will always assume the best intentions as a team member interacts with us.
Every day we get messages from another person on the team that could be construed as negative, passive-aggressive, or angry. We will choose to assume that the person communicating with us has our best interests in mind, allowing us to treat their communication with grace.

We will not use passive-aggressive actions as a way to get what we need from one another.
Being passive-aggressive is an easy, yet unproductive, way to get what you need from a colleague. We won’t use this action as a way to get what we need from one another or to share our frustrations with one another.

We will bring up important issues or conflict within 24 business hours to one another.
If something does happen that needs to be shared with another colleague, we won’t let it sit for more than 24 business hours. We will give ourselves, and the other person, enough dignity to bring up issues immediately.

We will let each other know if we can’t fully show up for work.
We’re all human. If we can’t show up well to work for whatever reason, we’ll let our team members know. We do this so that our colleagues don’t assume that we’re frustrated with them and are forced to try and guess what’s going on with us. They’ll just know it’s an “off” day.

We will leave GAN when our personal values don’t match up with the company’s values.
GAN is run by its values, and if a team member’s values don’t align with that of the company, it’s okay to leave. Actually, it’s probably good to leave sooner rather than later because you won’t be happy and neither will the company. There will be a disconnect between how you want to do work and how the company wants you to do your work while at GAN.

We will have team members leave our company with dignity, grace, and appreciation.
Whenever someone leaves our team to move onto their next opportunity, they will leave knowing that we deeply appreciate the work they’ve done for us and who they now get to go become. We will throw a party for them, share how much we appreciate their time at GAN, and tell them the ways they helped make GAN a better place.

We will onboard every new client as a team regardless of whether that client is “our” client or not.
It’s easy for a team to get siloed, where we start to believe that it doesn’t matter how we treat another team member’s clients. At GAN, we will welcome every new client to the GAN family as a team, showing them how much we value them coming into the GAN Community.

We will help one another when someone needs it but we’ll never expect someone to do our job for us.
There are simply times when either our non-work life needs more attention or our work life itself just needs an extra hand. When it happens, we ask each other early and often how we can offer support—whether it’s emotional or taking a task off of someone’s plate. We do this because we not only care for each other as people but because we all need help from time to time.

When we spot a problem, we not only note it, but we offer solutions to it.
Problems will come up weekly, daily, and sometimes even hourly. When we spot an issue that could be problematic for the team or the company, we’ll bring it up in the most appropriate context (the next team meeting, an email follow-up, pulling someone aside, getting on someone’s calendar, etc.). But we won’t just point out the problem in a posture that’s meant to simply criticize (each other, the company, or our clients). We’ll actually offer thought-out potential solutions that could help. This not only helps kickstart the brainstorming process but helps us all stay out of a victim mentality. It keeps us curious and supportive rather than pointing fingers at each other or shoveling responsibility onto someone else.