The wo(man) in the arena - a guide to leadership at Voltus
Voltus's Kelly Yazdani discusses four elements of our culture embodied by all Voltan leaders.
Voltus is growing fast, super duper fast. When we took in $25 Million in Series B funding a little over four months ago, I had about 70 teammates. Today, as I look at our #general Slack channel, the number sits at 119. That’s a lot of new Voltans.
As a culture-first organization, our top priority is vetting and cultivating talent. This process starts when you first interview (Co-founders Matt and Gregg still interview every prospective Voltan before an offer is extended) and continues through a carefully crafted cadence of feedback and training as you progress in your career.
There’s a very good reason for this level of care: we love promoting from within. The direct reports of today are quite literally the leaders of tomorrow. In fact, over the last year, 13% of our current employees moved from individual contributor to manager roles. There’s also plenty of room for external talent. We currently have open management roles with new positions popping up all the time.
Whether you are a preexisting or could-be Voltan, there are four elements of Voltus culture you need to internalize if you aspire to lead.
Every leader at Voltus is a player coach. Not only are they responsible for the goals and development of their particular piece of the business, but they are expected to be in the arena with their team, directly contributing toward those goals. Leading through example provides leaders with more insight into the actual issues and challenges their team faces and results in more targeted feedback. It also builds respect and camaraderie. Matt and Gregg still routinely cold call prospective customers in support of the Inside Sales team.
Every Monday afternoon, the entire Voltus team gathers for a company-wide meeting called Veritas. In addition to sharing the QWERTY (Quote We Enthusiastically Relay to You), featuring the Voltans of the Week, and voting “yay” or “nay” on the week’s proposed Voppelganger (apparently we have teammates that bear a striking resemblance to Donald Sutherland and Sophie Turner), Veritas, true to its name, provides a forum for the leadership team to provide transparency into the internal workings of the business. After each quarter’s Board meeting, for example, the Board meeting deck is reviewed in full on Veritas. In fact, during VoltusFest (our thrice annual company offsite) San Francisco, our entire team actually attended a Board meeting.
At Voltus, we practice the idea of radical candor – providing direct, honest, and frequent feedback in a caring and compassionate way. As a result, Voltans have a clear understanding of where they stand relative to their individual and collective goals. Managers are expected to deliver this feedback formally during bi-annual performance reviews and during weekly one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. Feedback is always two ways, and every Voltan is encouraged to speak truth to power. As a result, change at Voltus is most often driven by the team and not by leadership.
Happiness and Productivity
Leaders are judged not solely on performance, but on the happiness and productivity of their direct reports. Each quarter, we conduct a company-wide assessment of happiness and productivity. Both are measured on a 1-5 scale, (our goal is 4+ in both categories), and the results are reviewed on Veritas. Comments, both negative and positive, are addressed directly and anonymously. The data are used to coach managers and influence human resource strategy.
As Voltus charges at full speed toward our mission of being the distributed energy platform that fulfills the promise of the energy transition, nothing is more important than developing our talented team of bright, gritty, and good Voltans into the leaders of tomorrow. We have over 30 open positions. Who wants to join us?