Published by Kate Riney - October 25, 2018

What it’s really like to work at Calendly

Developing and living out core company values

Values at Calendly (Video)

Calendly just turned five, and we’ve experienced some significant milestones in the last year. We’ve nearly doubled our workforce, broken growth records month over month, localized our app and solidified our commitment to our mission: taking the work out of connecting so that you can accomplish more. But we haven’t gotten there without giving thought and deliberation to who we hire and how we operate.

Over the last several months, we’ve taken time to research and develop our core Calendly values. These are ideas that our team has largely embodied and run on for several years, they just weren’t articulated previously. Now that we’ve put them into words, we have a playbook we can all work from. There’s a guiding source of truth for what it means to be a Calendly employee and for how we agree to work as a team.

How we developed our values system

We started this project by going to the source. We surveyed all our employees to ask them what they think is unique about working at Calendly. It’s essential to have a pulse on your employees and base your values off a broad sample of feedback. It balances personal bias, blind spots and protects leaders from “Founder syndrome” and “hippo decision-making.” To represent and encapsulate your true culture, you need to poll everyone. This becomes even more essential when it’s time to turn those values into a playbook and a contract for engagement internally. You will have already built buy-in with the employee base.

We asked open-ended questions about our environment, our team dynamics, our overall brand aesthetic, who thrives here and what matters most to our employees.

A sample of questions we asked:

  • Describe the kind of person who succeeds here.
  • What do you like most about working here and would like for us to continue?
  • What do you think is one thing that we can improve here?
  • What motivates you to go above and beyond at work?

Once we closed the survey, we started to make notes of patterns. We grouped similar questions into categories like: what desirable character traits our people express, facets of our brand/culture, benefits, motivations and areas for improvement. Then we grouped similar keywords and phrases and tallied them for each question set. It didn’t take long to discover what our people view as distinct about our company.

With trends outlined, the company leadership team assembled to digest the data and brainstorm further. They expressed a collective vision of who we want to become and what we think will help us get there. Then those notes were distilled and worked into four concise value statements with descriptions:

Start with human

“First and foremost, we look for people who care about people.” —Tope Awotona, Calendly CEO + Founder

We know that our decisions and actions impact real people. We recruit, retain and reward people who show genuine empathy and thoughtfully consider the input of others. We identify people who are a delight to work with. We seek to be a high-performing team, one that cares about each other and achieves ambitious goals together.

Find a way

Calendly relentlessly focuses on improving our processes. Even though we have plenty of challenges to tackle, we meet them head-on, refusing to be paralyzed by complexity. We never settle, never accept “it works well enough” or “that’s how we have always done it” reasoning. Our people take action, adapt quickly and persevere in the face of obstacles until they make meaningful progress.

Focus wisely

Calendly is both agile and data-driven. We operate as a lean and efficient team, but recognize that quality and speed go together as counterweights—neither is sufficient alone. A bootstrapped mindset keeps our focus on what is most important. We take a highly analytical approach to ensure we are focusing resources on our top priorities.

Strive for excellence

The Calendly team is made up of over-achievers. We set our goals high and jump even higher. We are self-starters who crave empowerment, actively pursue opportunities for impact and are driven to produce exceptional results. We will do whatever it takes to delight our customers and constantly improve. That includes taking ownership of results and learning from them.

Company culture unified across office locations

Now that we have our values in writing, we have a playbook to operate from for how we engage with each other, customers and partners. We have a guide to our culture that helps us know how to maintain what is essential to Calendly even as we evolve and scale rapidly.

To treat each other as people first and coworkers second, we make an effort to participate in team-building events on a quarterly basis. These aren’t just happy hours or lunches where we take an hour off to mingle (though we have those frequently, too)! Our team events are a chance for every employee from both our Atlanta and New York office to get involved in something fun and meaningful.

This summer we participated in an epic, half-day field day at Piedmont Park. We carpooled and walked over from our office in Midtown Atlanta to compete in two-team heats for the grand prize and special superlatives. Our games consisted of everything from tug of war (my hands are still healing from the burn) to giant pong and sack-racing. A favorite event was a relay in which participants had to run a three-legged race, crab walk forward and backward, eat an entire pie pan of whipped cream hands-free and play KanJam. You can check out more of our fun in our culture video.

We also volunteer together, plan days for random acts of kindness, have in-office wellness events and learn together, attending panels, meetups and professional development classes. Our values aren’t just an internal system, but a way for us to represent ourselves to the community. So when we commit service hours or volunteer someone to share their expertise at an industry event, it’s not a PR stunt, it’s simply Calendly expressing outwardly who we’ve always been. As we grow, we’re taking steps to exemplify our values as a company and not just relying on individuals to do so on their own.

A framework for recruitment and inclusion

When we hire, we interview candidates based on whether they can demonstrate that they share our values. This ensures that they are someone who will thrive in our unique work environment and that they also bring their individual personality, perspective and experiences. We’re not looking for “culture fit,” but “culture add.” Using a values rubric and a panel of interviewers from across the company helps us to objectively evaluate whether a candidate is going to be able to do their best work at Calendly.

Feedback and performance conversations based on shared values

If an employee is facing challenges in their work environment, our values provide a framework for coaching. Managers can ask their reports reflective questions and get to the bottom of the trouble. Is the employee disengaged because they don’t feel a connection to their coworkers? Are they struggling to find a solution and need to be empowered to take a creative approach to their assignment? If someone is overwhelmed and unable to finish tasks, perhaps they need some advice on how to prioritize and make decisions.

We all have areas where we can improve. The goal is not perfection or even pure productivity—it’s growth. Instead of feeling like we’re being rated or compared, we approach our performance reviews as continuous opportunities to celebrate where we’ve come from and where we’re going. Our values give us a framework for more positive conversations that move us forward. It’s not about achieving excellence—it’s about striving for excellence. We’re looking for progress, not perfection.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg for how values can organize and influence how a company works. Our values system governs all of our operations from design and engineering to our people programs. It gives us a blueprint for hiring that allows for diversity and inclusion while pinpointing who our ideal candidates are and how to coach them to success. To put it simply, our values are the anchor and launching point for everything we do and stand for as a company.

 

Want to learn more about what it’s like at Calendly? Check out our new jobs page.