New ways of doing business
I always tell people that it is my dream and my career ambition that Proove has a good reputation for two very distinct reasons.
The first is that Proove is a recognized leader within project controls. Given the strength of our team, I have no doubt that we are on the right track for this.
The second part of my dream has always been the bigger one. This part is about sharing success with the people that work hard for this. It implies that Proove wants to be a game changer as a company and employer. We want to change the rules of the game we are all playing.
In November 2019, a group of Proove employees established Newways bv. and successfully purchased 100% of Proove’s shares. At that date, my dream became our dream. Newways is a partnership that wants to promote the vision and the values explained in this article.
Here are the ten rules that have been implemented step-by-step at Proove. None of them existed in the past in our company. Most of them are full reality today, while some are still subject to some work in progress, but these are definitely short term aims. None of these might be spectacular on its own, but all together they define our contemporary company culture.
Our strategy development and sales are a joint effort. As a result, you can have an impact on our organization and you can learn a lot of different things.
1. Strategic participation
The strategy of our company is not defined top-down by management as it usually is. It is a joint decision that we make on our yearly strategy days.
Everyone, form a junior planning engineer to management, has the possibility to brainstorm on investments, recruitment, market penetration etc.
Together we decide how we evolve as a company.
2. One Team
We don’t have any personal or departmental sales or financial targets, only company targets. I have seen in the past how personal sales targets (and related bonuses) hamper people to act as trusted advisors. That is a sacrifice that we are not willing to make.
3. Whenever, wherever
We truly don’t care where and when our employees work. As long as they deliver! If you are able to deliver by working at night at the beach in Portugal, fine for you. If you need to be in the office for social contact, good. If you are, like me, a home (and evening) worker who likes a run during the business day, that is possible too.
(An important note on this rule is that most of our clients do have more fixed working regimes and we then of course have to comply to these).
4. No sales
As trusted advisors, we stopped doing “sales”. We have no sales persons in our team. Our knowledgeable and trustworthy consultants are the ones selling our services, from engineer to engineer. All our proposals have correct prices with a normal margin, right from version 0.1 onward. We don’t want to play the sales - purchasing game where prices are first inflated and then negotiated downwards.
5. No organigram
We have no typical hierarchical organigram. Of course we have persons (our Leads) who have the seniority and proven skills to take initiatives and decisions in name of the company, but it does not give them the right to act as a destructive boss towards colleagues.
Proove should be a positive and agreeable workplace where mutual respect and trust are key values between colleagues. Our organization puts the individual in the center. Cohesion is ensured by personal relationships between individuals. The density of personal relationships between all employees will define our cohesion as a team.
6. Transparent wages
We aim for an honest and transparent salary system. We have published ranges for different job categories and a non-negotiable system for salary raises. That occasionally means that we fail to attract or retain talent, but the overall fairness is much more important for us. Our salaries are market conform, not less and not more. The difference maker is not this base salary, but what is described in rules 9 and 10.
7. Paid overtime
It is hard for us to accept how many companies request unpaid overtime because it is described as part of the type of job. At Proove, we also perform overtime if required to deliver the quality we want to deliver. But, not uncompensated. We implemented the Belgian Act Peeters which means that people will compensate their overtime by either salary or days-off. Their personal choice. Work-life balance should always be a personal choice.
8. Open books
We believe that accounting numbers (including our profit) should be shared with everyone in the company. We are clean, so what is there to hide? Yes, when as a consultant you compare revenue to salary, it will be a shock at first. But, we prefer to see it as an eye-opener. Most (young) professionals massively underestimate many costs that a company has. Transparency about our cost structure is also an enormous learning experience for them. And it allows for rule 9.
We practice what we preach!
In 8 years I went from first job to partner in a promising company. It gave me a unique feeling. We want to share this feeling with as many colleagues as we can!
9. Profit sharing
We believe in a system where hard work is rewarding for everyone. At Proove, we have implemented since 2019 a profit-sharing system where a considerable percentage of the company profit will flow back to the team. We all (cf. One Team) work hard to maximize the company revenue and then we distribute it fairly. This is clearly a win-win for owners and employees.
10. Owned by the people
The last rule embodies our conviction that a service-oriented company like ours, can only be sustainable when it is owned by the people that work within this company. No external shareholders or investors allowed. The idea is that active management should own the company at any given time. Newly promoted managers should have a chance to participate, while people who leave will have to sell their shares at a published price. This seems a much more healthy situation than our team having to report to my children at a certain time in the future.