We discuss building a culture of growth personally and within teams. We spoke with Toun Tunde-Anjous (TTA), Founder of The People Practice, and she shared some insights. Let’s dive straight into the interview.
How intentional are you about growth in your workplace?
TTA: At The People Practice, growth is key. Our first value is ‘Pursue Mastery’, which we do by ensuring everyone has a growth mindset from the start. Individually, people develop their professional and personal growth plans and share them with the team bi-annually.
Professionally, this is done through one-on-ones, goal tracking and goal metrics, and varied improvement plans. We go deep into what you should be reading, listening to (podcasts), writing about, and studying. We also look at ways to grow around our values and our culture.
A creative way we promote growth is through our SUSU (Show Us Something Unique) sessions, where we listen to Ted Talks, watch videos and movies around our values and create time for conversation around our learnings. The goal is deliberate and continuous growth, both personally and professionally.
What do you look out for as indicators of growth at The People Practice?
TTA: When people are starting, I always ask what they have read or are listening to. I find that people sometimes are weary of the kind of book they share. However, I am more keen on their takeaways and how they apply their learnings. You could have been reading anything, arts, music theory, Afrobeats Culture, etc. For me, it's understanding trends and seeing how to apply them in your day-to-day life or how they cause a change in perspective.
That tells me that this person has a growth mindset. It is more than just having degrees or certifications. It is really in having lightbulb moments and knowing how something has shaped you. This, for me, is a leading indicator of a growth mindset.
How often do you inspire your employees to learn something new?
TTA: For us, it's a daily thing. When we meet on Mondays, beyond our regular check-ins, we ask what everyone is reading, learning, or watching and possible learnings.
As I love reading, I am constantly reading and learning 3 to 4 things at the same time. I then share with people based on their interests and growth plans. For someone on my team, it was getting her obsessed with a podcast because I wanted us to both look at growth hacking together. For another colleague who handles design, it was sharing a free copy of a book with him on Audible. Other times it has been sharing trainings and articles on OKRs, recruitment, boolean search, the best company cultures, etc., with the team. I find that people have started retaliating and sharing new things with me, which is amazing to me.
As a leader, how do you overcome setbacks and support your team when they experience setbacks?
TTA: The team went for WIMBIZ last November, and Chimamanda Adichie mentioned a phrase - Push On Despite Setbacks. For me, it was a light bulb moment. There will be several NOs and people with varying perspectives from me. For instance, if a client has a different opinion on how we should handle things, I get the team to be a part of that conversation. This way, we get to know what exactly the client wants and going forward, this situation does not reoccur. I let the team in so they can see me being open to learning, going back to the drawing board, helping people understand why we went with an option, and most importantly, understanding the client’s ‘why’. This way, we come out better than before.
In my team's case, our Recruitment Lead closed a role, but the candidate decided against joining 2 days before the start date. This was a blow for us because the role was closed 2 months before. She was crushed. At the time, it was important for me to reinforce that I was on her side and reiterate that the entire situation was outside her control. Once my support was clear, we got back into action.
How do you provide constructive criticism to your team?
TTA: I use the sandwich approach. Let people know they have done something decent, then go into where they need to improve and end it with something positive. Some of my teammates say sometimes I criticise them, and they do not even realise until they get home. Sometimes it may have to be brutal, but I find that I am kind and empathetic. I take in how people feel and ensure I do not leave them feeling worse off. You can feel like you should have done better, but I should never make you worse off as a human being.
How can an employee personally have a growth mindset?
TTA: You have to be deliberate about your growth. I always say that when you get into a new company, onboarding cannot be the sole responsibility of HR or your team lead. Onboarding is a collective responsibility, but it is championed by you. Your life, your career.
Each year, I believe people must create their own goals, even outside of career plans. I think people who read, listen, and map out patterns are the most brilliant people. They are open-minded because they see things from different perspectives and apply their learnings. Staying curious and open-minded is how you grow deliberately.
Thank you very much for your time TTA.