⚔️The 55 Musketeers: How we collaborate at Fidel

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Maybe you’d choose to fly (pretty cool), travel through time (kind of cool) or summon food at will (the best choice). As a team, we don’t have to imagine what our shared superpower would be. For us, the ability to effectively collaborate is one of the greatest superpowers we have.

Simply put, collaborative teams make for happier teams. It means increased productivity, increased creativity and a stronger commitment to transparency - something we hold very close to our hearts at Fidel.

We’ve been proactive in creating more collaboration within teams and, critically, between different teams. Broadly, happiness, productivity and well-being are only achieved when the whole team can use all their experience to achieve singular goals.

In this article, we’ll be discussing a little bit more about how we encourage that and the culture of collaboration we try to create.

Finding a balance ⚖️

What is collaboration? Well, it’s working together. Fundamentally, Fidel isn’t physically together in the literal sense, like many growing companies. We’re dotted around the globe, with offices in London, Lisbon, New York and the freedom - for now, a vital requirement - to work from home.

From basic interactions like our weekly all-hands to all of the informal team moments, collaborating is made a lot harder when you’re physically separate. Time-zones are an issue too, it can mean missing out entirely on vital insight and clarity in those unscheduled discussions.

To combat this, we operate with a cross-functional style of collaboration - it’s all about maintaining a clear common goal. We’re constantly working to solve common challenges and to complete a wider mission within our individual teams. This helps us avoid working in dreaded ‘silos’, separated, uncommunicative and focused on our own specific tasks without wider goals to bind us. It might be easier in the short-term to fall into bad habits like siloed working, but being broadly unaligned can cause more longer-term problems - especially during growth periods. 🤦‍♂️

The only challenge of achieving cross-functional collaboration is ensuring internal structure is clear, so we always involve the right people on any given project. It’s just a question of balance and taking each project or goal as it comes. Therefore, we make a really conscious effort to ensure we are internally sharing information regularly and keep our team’s resources up to date. With those safeguards in place, we can be united, aligned and productive without saturating projects with unnecessary attention or starving them of vital insights.

Key collaboration concepts 💡

There are a few key concepts we try to keep in mind in our day to day work. Some of these day-to-day practices might go unnoticed, but they contribute massively to the health of our workplace.

🗣 Communication is key. It might be a cliche but it's the foundation of any successful team. We try to have open, honest and constructive communication between teams and departments. Primary communication will be via Slack and Notion - especially in the current circumstances - allowing us to support clear asynchronous communication too (a big issue for global businesses). Notion is our knowledge base, a hub for sharing processes, policies and ongoing projects. We also have some practices in place, like laying out a schedule for any calls you organise and using smaller, focused group chats for project work. Finally,we host a weekly all-hands call on Mondays, something we’ve done since we were 10 people, and still do now at 55.  Each team presents three simple points: The highlights, the challenges and the dependencies - and we’re all in that meeting to hear, help and celebrate them as a company.

👓 Clarity means responsibilities and objectives are agreed and laid out from the start. Avoiding overlapping tasks and promoting individual accountability are essential. Furthermore, the use of clear OKRs on every level from company-level to personal goals are available for anyone's visibility. We employ road-mapping as a practice among teams which are also publicly available, where possible. Finally, we incentivize team managers to regularly connect with their team members, constantly managing and aligning our team goals, highlights, challenges and dependencies.

⛔️ Eliminating barriers is pretty easy when you’re a startup. No stuffy bureaucracy, no huge, legacy systems or entrenched practices. However, the second you start to grow, these things begin to blossom (just not in a nice way like a sunflower, more like a nettle).  At Fidel, we focus on creating processes that suit their teams, instead of standardising all the processes that might not suit every team’s needs.

🧠 Training is pretty fundamental to getting started, but part of a growth mindset means being open to learning all the time. We’re not perfect, and still try to improve those learning opportunities at Fidel. In a previous talent blog, we mentioned that great onboarding sets up our new starters for success - but we also know training can’t stop after the ‘honeymoon’ phase. We promote continuous training by providing access to a learning platform called Udemy, offering an individualistic approach, as well as group learning sessions where we educate teams on relevant subjects - most recently taking a deep dive into the payments industry. Finally, we have a lovely internal newsletter - a place to share achievements and offer useful information through major industry stories, interesting examples of innovation and video content.

In conclusion

At Fidel, we’re conscious we don't have the perfect workplace and the perfect collaborative team, yet. 😉 However, we believe we’ve got some of the best people onboard and, by trying and testing new initiatives, we succeed as a team, especially in more complex situations.

It’s no one thing that creates a great working environment, achieves better results and boosts team satisfaction. It’s a culmination of all the small things (shout out Blink 182 fans). 🎸

We might try new processes, only to eliminate some of them, but - ultimately - we’ll always do it all with the conviction that together we’re stronger, we can achieve more and no one member can do it alone. You could say we’re a bit like the three musketeers, except there are fifty-five of us: All for one and one for all! 🤺