Growing is a team effort, which only succeeds if everyone contributes
Just like for many companies, one of Sweet Mustard’s primary goals is to keep growing. But what does growth mean in this context? Which possibilities are there to engage your employees as much as possible? After five years in the business, what are the most important lessons learned? We had a chat with Mike Seghers and Davy Hoornaert, members of our leadership team, to see how they and others help to guide Sweet Mustard’s growth.
What is growth?
“When we started Sweet Mustard, we asked ourselves the same question”, Mike starts. “We read a lot about the definition of growth, and how to apply certain growth models. But the more we engaged with the subject, the more we realised that growing depends on the individual and the company. Copying those models without putting in extra effort clearly wasn’t enough.”
“The idea that we should grow and dedicate ourselves to achieve that goal has always been there”, Davy continues. “People sometimes say that staying the same leads to stagnation, and that reflects our vision of growth. We organised some brainstorms together with other members of the leadership team, so we could present them with some concrete ideas."
Drafting a growth document
“We started with little to no set trajectory, but we agreed on stimulating a growth mindset in our employees”, Davy explains. “We wanted to keep on learning internally, just as we do at our client’s projects. We realised we shouldn’t be afraid to stay one or more steps ahead of our clients, because this allows us to keep inspiring them.”
“To stay ahead of the pack, we decided on an iterative approach and drafted a growth document along the way, based on our own experiences. This is a constantly changing Word document in which we describe how to grow within our organisation, and who can answer your questions.”
Mike has an important nuance: “We call it a growth document, but we consider it more of a set of guidelines and principles. If our people thrive, we have to grow along with them as an organisation. That’s why it was obvious for us to include things like knowledge sharing and inspiring each other as Sweet Mustard’s key values.”
“To turn those values into real-life results, you need feedback”, Davy explains. “You’re not alone in trying to achieve growth and take initiative, so you need others to comment on how you’re doing. We deliberately avoid words like “evaluation”, because you can’t force someone to grow.”
Team support required
“Growing professionally is an individual trajectory”, Mike reaffirms. “Noticing that your current plan is no longer working and that you want to head in a different direction is another way of growing. There are plenty of ways to grow personally, professionally, and financially. You can become a subject matter expert, diversify your expertise, become a coach or teacher, and so much more. The more explicit that evolution gets, the more we tend to compare ourselves to others.”
“Growing has different meanings and levels of importance depending on the person”, Davy elaborates. “The leadership team also wants to have the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise. That’s why we don’t want to limit the growth of our employees to the possibilities we provide at Sweet Mustard. Some of our Sweeties are starting their own ventures within the Cronos aan de Leie cluster, or taking on management positions.”
“Of course, nobody just gets free rein. Our growth document reminds us of our key values. The most important thing for us is to spread that community feeling and keep the Sweet Mustard family together. We still believe in the Cronos principle of making sure that everyone has other directions to grow in, but we want to pass on our own principles to any subsidiaries as well.”
“Turning those cornerstones into reality was one of the most important lessons we’ve learned in the past few years”, Mike continues. “It’s simple to say that there needs to be a work-life balance, for example, but achieving this is easier said than done. A company’s culture stems from its people, so we’re aware that it’s hard for any company to stimulate their people completely by themselves.
Instead, growth is a team effort that needs support from everyone. Listen to your team, engage in conversations, but don’t determine someone’s path for them yourself.”
Curious about how we turn our growth document into reality at Sweet Mustard? Be sure to keep an eye on our blog page, because we’ll be launching some blogs on how our teams handle this soon!