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Under the bonnet of Monzo HQ

Growth as a tool for cultural change

Having grown from c.100 employees to nearly 300 employees in 6 months, new-bank-on-the-block Monzo have one hell of a story to tell.

They’ve smashed through the notorious 150-people mark without a moment to catch their breath, which is enough to make anyone break out in a sweat.

Yet at last week’s Culturevist event, Monzo’s people team shared how they are using this rapid growth as a tool for culture change.

With such rapid growth they are forced to regularly rewrite their 'people playbook’ and find ways to authentically evolve their culture, given that what works for a team of 30 often doesn't work for a team of 300.

Here are the 3 most interesting insights from behind the scenes at Monzo:

Monzo’s culture really is in their actions

Culture is how people feel, how people act and what people say everyday and not stagnant words written in a mission statement.

- Tara, Monzo People Team

So simple, right? Yet it takes real effort and commitment to evolve a positive, cohesive culture that people really live. And the magic is in the actions, both big and small.

Whether it’s team members actually taking the one month unpaid leave that is offered to employees as an example to their peers. Or perhaps the Slackbot that encourages people to use more inclusive language:

Or how Monzo organised funded lunches for 5 random people from across the business to break down silos. Since this proved difficult to scale, they’ve introduced food carts to bring people together over food at the office.

Or how teams communicate with senior and junior hires in the same way that they do with customers; heavy on the emojis. Ultimately, it’s human:

We're just humans hiring other humans.

- Monzo People Team

Monzo distinguish between team leads and managers

Monzo recognise the tension and potential conflict of interest that can come from the same person being responsible for an individuals’ output and performance as well as their career growth and development.

With the recent introduction of Managers - to support peoples’ growth and development - who are usually distinct from Team Leads - who manage workload - Monzo are following the path that many other leading fast-growing companies have taken.

‘Manager’ has certain connotations… I wonder if they might find a more fitting name for these roles, like ‘coach’ or ‘guide’.

At Monzo, targets are not linked to financial incentives

We set high and hard goals. If we don’t hit them then that’s ok, as long as there’s a clear reason why we didn’t.

- Monzo People Team

Monzo have removed financial incentives, like bonuses, from quarterly goals but instead focus on overall performance to ensure a cohesive team.

The resounding message is that culture is critical at Monzo and that their culture evolves with each lurch forward in the workforce.

The session finished with some challenging questions posed to the Monzo People team:

“What happens when you find brilliant technical talent who don’t fit your culture? Would you hire them?”

“Do you have bad days” (that was a yes… they are human!)

In short, Monzo seems to be an exciting, progressive place to be where the people team are making up and then ripping up their ‘people handbook' as they grow.

The key thoughts I’ll take away from the session are about how we, at GroHappy, can live our values through our behaviours and make our distributed team members feel special and part of our culture.

Most importantly, I'll take away the mindset of embracing rapid change as a tool for evolving culture.

Image sources:

Monzo header: Monzo careers page

Slack: @EricaJoy on Twitter

Written by Karina Brown, co-founder at GroHappy

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