The values driving Vena Solutions’ growth are rocket fuel for the ambitious.
Vena is a provider of cloud corporate performance management software that transforms Excel into an enterprise-class business solution by helping companies manage their data, spreadsheets, and files. The company has some high profile customers including Nike, McDonald’s, BNP Paribas, and the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, and announced record sales and customer growth in 2015.
According to Vena’s CTO, George Papayiannis, the company has a deliberate, high performance ethos, where employees who want to push their skills, take calculated risks, and operate in a culture of honesty will thrive.
The centerpiece of the culture they have designed is their set of values. Recently, the team at Vena explored their values and defined six that underpin what is important to them, which Papayiannis describes:
1. Lead by Example.
“Bias toward action,” Papayiannis says. Rather than thinking of trying to influence someone through authority or being the highest paid person in the room, “you influence them through technical leadership, you influence them through good ideas, through showing that you can lead by getting things done.”
2. Think in terms of 10X improvement.
“All too often we come into work and get into autopilot mode,” says Papayiannis. “We get into a mode of trying to accomplish the next thing in front of us rather than thinking about what it is that I’m actually trying to solve, and whether there is a way for me to radically think about what I’m doing to achieve that 10X improvement so I don’t have to think about this again one month or two months from now.”
3. Make Tough Decisions.
Vena is looking for people who are willing to stick their necks out. “The world doesn’t need more genius,” Papayiannis says. “The world needs more people that are willing to make hard decisions. That fear that comes around making a hard decision is what holds us back as people, let alone as a company.”
4. Stay Calm in Stressful Situations.
“We’re managing a cloud infrastructure for Fortune 500 companies,” Papayiannis says. “Problems will happen, but how we deal with those problems on a day to day basis is what really will define us.”
5. Inspire Others with your Passion for Excellence.
This has to do with the level of care with which one approaches a problem. “It’s the passion for excellence,” Papayiannis says. “If you’re given a challenge, are you just going to try to get it done or are you going to try to get it done in a way that’s novel and is going to be the best solution that you can possibly think of?
6. Promote a Culture of Freedom and Self Discipline.
Papayiannis says, “Managers at Vena are not micro managers. You’re given a task. You’re given a responsibility, and you’re told to accomplish an idea. From that point, we expect our employees to self-discipline and guide themselves to get the job done.”
It is stressed at Vena that an employee is not going to experience negative career impact by being vulnerable and admitting weaknesses. In fact, being vulnerable is necessary for the high performance they seek.
“When you talk about empathy, and you talk about caring for employees, caring for your customers, caring for each other, it really boils down to making yourself vulnerable,” Papayiannis says.
“The moment we as leaders make ourselves vulnerable, show our own weaknesses, it makes everyone around us more comfortable and makes them more comfortable to share theirs. This is how you make that big 10X leap. We take fears that we have and talk about those challenges.”
Clearly with a culture so well defined, high performance is only one part of the hiring equation. Fit is equally important.
On fit, Papayiannis says, “There are great jobs in this world, and Vena is a place that will give you a great job, but it doesn’t come for free. It comes from realizing that you’re going to join a high performing team, and our values are core to that team. If you’re the kind of person that feels that you can come, think in terms of 10X improvement, want to inspire others with your passion for excellence, and make tough decisions, then this is the right place for you.”