‘What I stand for is what I stand on.’ – Wendell Berry
Our values are the driving force behind how we do our business and nurture the community of over 200 professionals. They are our key differentiators in the industry.
The three core values placed at the heart of our decision-making processes are People First, Culture of Trust, and Passion for Growth.
Looking from the business side, numerous studies demonstrate that strong internal values directly translate into the stability of the company, better financial performance – and faster, healthy growth. With the business growth of 25% only in the first quarter of 2021, we can happily declare we are a part of that statistic.
Below, we unveil the meaning behind all three values we live and operate by.
Sure, placing ‘People First’ sounds like a great catchphrase and buzz-worthy statement. But for us, it’s about taking care of our people in a holistic manner. This is why we are committed to developing and providing well-tailored programs that support the well-being and growth of our crew – during, as well as outside of the working hours. Here’s what we have in mind when we say People First:
- Community Well Being
We are not our jobs. Each of us is an individual with unique needs, ambitions, different aspirations, and at different stages of life. Before everything else, the physical and mental health of our employees comes first. We provide a free yearly general health check-up for our community.
Acknowledging mental health as essential to our general well-being is also part of this equation. Thus, all our employees have in-house psychologists at their disposal. Booking an appointment and discussing anything that feels like a burden is one click away. And we can do so, as many times as we feel the need.
- The Balance of Needs
A good work-life balance is something that every working person strives for, right? It is not about the perfect 50 – 50 ratio, but creating a space where we get enough time to do our tasks successfully, and enough time to enjoy other things in life that bring us joy. In all honesty, we do get ‘stuck’ at work at times after working hours, like anyone else in the world. However, this type of situation is the exception and not the rule.
In Mistral, we don’t have the third night shift or projects that require 24/7 support and alertness. Our working hours are flexible and we are a full hybrid workplace.
The initial purpose of our company remains to enable our people to be healthy, content, and have the optimal environment for growth. Efficiency, productivity, and quality will follow.
- Cheerleading Squad: HP Hotline & Star Track
We don’t want good deeds or work to go unnoticed. Words matter. Kindness – even more. We highly encourage our people to speak up when they see that their colleague(s) are doing their jobs in an exceptional manner. HP Hotline is a channel addressed to our Human Potential team and serves to send a praising message for a colleague or a team. Additionally, we publicly display these messages on our MS Teams for everyone in the company to see via the Star Track channel. Yes, the pun is intended.
Culture of Trust
In Mistral, we opt to start with trust from day one.
Creating a high-trusting environment is a prerequisite to all our activities. We take deliberate actions into building such an environment on 3 levels:
• company level
• team level
• interpersonal one-on-one relationships
Honesty and open communication are intrinsic to all our activities. To be able to enjoy consistent improvement, gathering feedback (both, positive and negative) is a crucial element. Sugarcoating our realities is not something we are up for. These are the ways that help us keep the high-trust environment at the pedestal:
- Open (Virtual) Door Policy
Let’s face it – it’s not always easy to maintain the intimacy of the community of 200+ people working from different locations. However, a long time ago, our founders decided to share their decision-making table with all of us and to really – listen. Our management team is always keeping their door open, and any answer that you might need is really just one ping away. There is also a designated virtual channel on our MS Teams for questions that are addressed to our founders called Ask Mersed and Sanin. Questions vary from our engagements to the way we communicate internally. The channel is public and available for all to see and engage. No question is ever left unanswered. And that’s a fact.
- Coffee with the Founders
Every other week, we gather online over late morning coffee and – talk. Yes, the entire crew. This is the space to revise our plans, get an insight into how the projects are going, praise people publicly for exceptional work, meet our newcomers, hear about upcoming engagements etc. This is an opportunity for everyone to get in tune with the bigger picture, ask anything they like, and reconnect with the entire crew.
There is a designated virtual channel on our MS Teams for questions that are addressed to our founders. Questions vary from our engagements to the way we communicate internally. The channel is public and available for all to see and engage. No question is ever left unanswered. And that’s a fact.
- Suggestion Box
Here is a fantastic tool we love – Mistral Suggestion Box! Even though the majority of the issues raised in the company are not anonymous – we like to provide that option as well. Suggestion box exists both in a physical space (our offices) and virtually. Its purpose is to give us a way to express our feedback on any matter – or raise an issue anonymously.
Bear in mind one thing: We have zero tolerance for rudeness, gossip, backstabbing, and unconstructive criticism.
- Company Surveys
We conduct company surveys yearly. This is a common way of checking our overall vibe, reflecting on culture and engagement, growth, and communication with our management team. It is important to note that the survey results and action steps are shared with everyone, and all interested parties are welcome to work on the new initiatives that arise from the surveys.
Passion for Growth
‘Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.’, stated Angela Duckworth in her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. If there was a universal equation for success, a person’s natural talent would be an important part of it. And we do take pride in all of the talented professionals under the Mistral flag. However, just talent is not a guarantee of success, individual or collective.
Here are some of the ways we keep our passion for growth, our third value, reignited:
- Professional Development Plan
Each of us in Mistral has a tailored and personalized development tool called Professional Development Plan (PDP). It is an in-house strategic development plan, with tools to assist us with tracking and measuring our success. It is a pragmatic way of giving our employees a voice in their job design, expectations, deliverables, and future endeavors they would like to pursue. This freedom allows them to align their strongest skill sets with their daily work, and to set future goals and work towards them.PDP’s measure our performance goals and development goals. Using checkpoints (meetings with our dedicated HP person or our line manager) makes it easy to see where we stand and how content we are with the accomplished things.
- Reflection Makes the Difference
All teams across Mistral have bi-weekly retrospective sessions. We practice retrospectives and reflections to identify growth opportunities and simply do better work. During these meetings, each team member individually states what went well, what can be improved, and what’s next to come. These types of meetings help us be more precise in our problem solving the next time we tackle a similar task. It is also useful to avoid common mistakes. We make mistakes. We own them, learn from them, and move on – with a lesson or two in our pocket.
- Practice Groups, Educational Platforms, Conferences, and Mistral Library
Seeking further knowledge through educational content, Practice Groups, on-sight mentoring, international conferences, online training are highly encouraged in our house. We assist our crew in their endeavors to master a new skill that is relevant to their job. We have an internal library of various books, as well as company accounts in educational online platforms such as Udemy, Pluralsight, and others. We pay attention to soft skills development as well, by providing a personal in-house coach for English language and communication skills. Working in such a dynamic industry, it is mandatory to keep our skill sets sharp and in line with global trends.
- Open Sessions and External Community
As a house of knowledge, we see sharing our expertise and the latest tools with regional and global techies almost as a duty. It is a great opportunity to meet people from the industry and share our similar (or different) experiences on a particular programming language, the way we manage projects, or the latest trick we’ve discovered from the world of QA. Our external community keeps on flourishing – only in 2020, we hosted over 300 individuals as guests at our Open sessions.
To build a successful business, and the community that people are eager to be part of – a values-based foundation is a must. At the end of the day, companies are not made of beautiful spaces and perks, but the fulfilled, happy people making an impact (and wonderful products, too!).
People First, Culture of Trust and Passion for Growth serve as our personal compass that guides our processes and behaviors. If Mistral were a person – these three would be the perfect reflection of its human characteristics.