What is a people-centered culture and how can it help businesses in uncertainty?
Andreas Flodstrom, the Founder and CEO of Beetroot and Beetroot Academy.

2020 made a lot of companies feel stressed and uncertain about the future of business development and growth. But the past year also highlighted the importance of people in any business. Such periods of uncertainty are precisely the best times to examine your company's values and revise them if they need fixing. You can use the opportunity created by crisis to make sure sustainability is a core mission to check that your company’s culture lives not just on paper but in your team’s hearts and minds.

Eight years ago we set out to create a culture and environment where we, personally, would want to work. Now, with 100+ dedicated teams already built and 500 amazing Beets on board in Ukraine and Sweden, we are more confident than ever in our decision to approach everything with a people-centered culture in mind.

Values we established at the start have helped us survive and grow during the COVID-19 period. I’d like to share some key values our team has observed as crucial to thriving in uncertain times.

Create trust.

In good times, we don’t think about it, but crisis moments expose whether a team does or does not have trust. An atmosphere of trust reassures people, first, that they’ve heard, and second, that they’re appreciated and counted on for their contributions. When you really trust people, they also tend to approach things with great responsibility. Avoid micromanagement, involve your teams in designing work solutions, rather than defending directives from above.

Be transparent in everything, especially in crisis situations.

If a business’s founders aren’t open and sincere, it’s not realistic to expect transparency from employees. Transparency begins with rapid reporting of problems to the whole team. When teams are allowed to fail fast and maintain open lines of nonjudgmental communication, day-to-day work progresses and succeeds. I’ve observed that transparency, specifically, is a key indicator and determinant in a company’s health.

Focus on relationships first.

Our teams understand that processes can be redesigned all the time, according to the demands of specific situations. But the success of these processes depends entirely on the relationships that undergird them. While remote work precludes rapid, in-person, cup-of-coffee problem-solving, investing upfront in robust communication saves us time and money in the end.

Involve the team in deciding the company's strategic direction.

Nothing motivates a team more than inviting them to participate in business development. Holding a stake in the company’s goals has a positive effect on a team’s desire to overcome complex challenges and succeed. Involve your team and they will feel inspired, rather than excluded, unhappy, and bored.

Make space for experimentation.

Uncertainty times like these create enough new unknowns for your team members. Make sure they feel secure in the knowledge that they have space to explore new approaches. No matter how senior the specialist, s/he needs free space to innovate, make mistakes, and arrive at optimal solutions. Create a trusting environment that engenders invention. The faster you fail, the sooner you achieve success.

Putting people at the center of your company’s culture might, at first, seem trivial or secondary, compared to the bottom lines of business and product development. But creating synergy and cooperation between founders, self-managed teams, and clients is nothing less than the key to success, both now and 10-20 years into the future. A people-centered culture lets us grow in a sustainable way, and adapt to any uncertainty.