Core Values

Number One Most Important Thing

Humble

Listen to the data

Data and customer feedback trump ego and opinion. Be open to new ideas, acknowledge limitations and let the results speak for themselves. When you make a mistake – everyone does – be humble: accept responsibility, ask for help and get to work to fix the problem as soon as possible.

Happy

Tap-dance to work

Warren Buffett talks about how he "tap dances to work" each day because he loves his work and the team around him. Strive to make work as enjoyable as possible. This might mean making tough decisions about working with partners, customers, or suppliers who drain our energy. Use common sense over rules when it comes to day-to-day conduct and interactions with others.

Gritty

Be persistent, not complacent

Stay hungry. It isn't enough to have an idea – it’s persistence that determines success. Results come from pursuing long-term goals with passion. We are working in a very competitive business. Great results come when we all embrace an entrepreneurial mindset of being self-motivated, self-aware, self-disciplined, and self-improving.

Agile

Make small bets, then iterate

Embrace the philosophy of "little bets" in all aspects of the organization. When an idea fails, allow it to fail quickly, so we can learn from it and then iterate. When an idea succeeds, scale it by automating or outsourcing, and then sharing the knowledge across the company. A small number of people can achieve far more than any large organization when working with this mindset.

Policies

We aren't huge fans of policies but over time we have realized this is quite a unique way of operating and often a bit alarming to some employees so in case you are unsure, here are our non-policy policies...

There are a few things that are absolutely not OK:

1. Harassment of any kind
2. Dishonesty
3. Acting unethically
4. Illegal behavior

We really hope those all go without saying – but just in case – we said them anyways.

Work Hours & Location

We value your outcomes more than the specific hours of the day you choose to work. There are no official office hours. You are still expected to work a full work day but it is very flexible. On an average day, most people arrive around 8:30am. That being said when a big deadline is looming you will see the morning people in very early and the night owls here very late. Rules around work hours feel disrespectful to us - like we don't trust our team members to get the job done. We ask for respect in return in that when something needs to get done, long hours are worked to ensure it gets finished on time. Just as important though, if your child has an in-school performance at 3pm we want you to be there. If you have a doctor's appointment, please don't hold off on scheduling that - we want you to stay healthy! The theme here is simply respect and common sense.
Understanding what hours to work in the day will best be determined as you and your team work together to decide when to have meetings and time to collaborate. Make sure to be vocal about preferences and needs. The Culture in our organization is one of collaboration and teamwork, so teams will do their best to make scheduling as fitting to each individual as possible.
Determining how often an employee should work at home or at the office will be decided similar to the specific hours worked in the day, by the teams. Some roles will be more flexible than others, life events may impact location preferences or world events may restrict office entry/space. Some days it may make sense to work from home. Are you taking your shift with a sick kid at home? Do you have a couple meetings that are closer to your house than the office and commuting time would be longer if you went into the office? These are times you are more than encouraged to work from home.
There is an office in each city the organization functions in (Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto) and depending on circumstances employees are welcome to use them as much as is needed. There is huge value to ideas shared as you are passing each other on the way to the coffee maker or creating a team environment just from spending time together, so we strongly encourage participation at the office. Again you and your team can assess the best approach to in/out of office work. Make sure all plans to work out of the office are known by your manager to ensure you don't miss out on something happening in the office.

Vacation Policy and Requesting Time Off

In our Organization we focus on what employees get done, not on how many days are worked. Just like we don't have a 9am-5pm work policy, we don't have a vacation policy. To be completely clear - there is absolutely no policy or tracking of vacation. Similar to Netflix's thoughts..."there is not a clothing policy at work, but no one comes to the office naked." When you are considering a holiday, check with your manager to ensure there aren't any conflicts by requesting the time through BambooHR. Before you leave, put a plan in place to ensure nothing falls through the cracks while you are away. Sometimes that means asking a co-worker to do some backup for you (knowing they will be calling on you to return the favour soon) and/or keeping up with emails while you are away.
Also of importance is understanding that no vacation policy does not then mean no vacation. Everyone is expected to take those much needed breaks so they can come back inspired with new big ideas.
When considering taking time off remember to be respectful of your requests and speak to your manager in advance to solidify plans for a smooth transition. Feel comfortable to request time off when needed and enjoy the flexibility the organization offers.
If you want to take some time off/take a sick day/have a medical appointment etc. go through the BambooHR app. Your time off request will be sent to your direct manager (Cory and Nicole as well) for approval. And just in case it needs to be mentioned, not asking to stay home sick until 10am the day of, isn’t reasonable. As soon as you know you are making that decision, contact your manager and submit the request through BambooHR.

Dress Code

Don't come to work naked. If you have a meeting with an external customer or partner, dress in business attire. Simple as that!

Benefits

Health benefits

Like with all of our policies we chose a health benefits plan that is as flexible as possible and allows everyone the ability to use it where and when needed.

Parking/Transit Benefits

We subsidize this too because parking downtown is just crazy!

Intrapreneur Program

For those budding entrepreneurs, our Intrapreneur Program may be just the right fit.

We know first hand that the first time you bet on yourself and take the leap into entrepreneurship is the scariest. It gets a little easier each time but it never gets easy. It got us wondering, if people had a safe place (or “safer”) to start a business with guidance and help, how many more people would start amazing businesses? How many of our team members have great ideas tossing around in their brains that they haven’t been able to take the first step on? So the Intrapreneur Program was born…

A few things we aren't trying to do:

  • Turn all of our employees into entrepreneurs
  • Make people feel they have to participate in this program to “make it” at AltaML
  • Create a whole bunch of useless extra work for a lot of people
  • Give everyone participation awards by moving forward with any idea presented so everyone feels good about themselves

This program excites us because we hope it allows great ideas to take advantage of the resources we have internally. We also hope it means AltaML continues to attract the best talent and motivates every team member to continue to grow.

Culture

Mistakes & Debate - The people are what make a great workplace. We look for people who want to question how things are done and who want to be innovative with new ideas. We want risk-takers. We want people who keep their head up enough to recognize when something just needs to get done and does it. But sometimes all this innovation, ideas and risks lead to a mistake.

So you might wonder... what if I screw up? Nobody has ever been fired here for making a mistake. Providing the freedom to fail is important - we couldn’t expect so much of individuals if we also penalized people for errors. We genuinely look at these mistakes as opportunities to learn. Screwing up is a great way to find out that your assumptions were wrong. As long as you adjust your plan accordingly and move forward with a better plan, you’re doing it right. Look for ways to make small bets. Never be afraid to run an experiment or to collect more data. Ask yourself “what would I expect to see if I’m right?” Ask yourself “what would I expect to see if I’m wrong?” Then ask yourself “what do I see?” If something totally unexpected happens, try to figure out why.

There are however bad ways to fail. Repeating the same mistake over and over is one. Not listening to customers or peers before or after a failure is another. Never ignore the data; particularly when it says you’re wrong.

Expect others to question your assumptions, that is why they are part of the team. This doesn't mean you aren't doing a great job, it just means everyone comes with a different background and different experiences – no two people would tackle a problem the same way. By seeking out those questions from your peers, each solution and plan gets more refined and we can get to the best plan much quicker. As long as we are respectful of the way we communicate, we will all improve by having real and substantive debate.

We are a team, not a family. You are stuck with your family no matter how many strange things they do. Being with family means putting on a smile with the uncle that thinks he is just so cool. Being part of a team means collaboration, pulling your own weight, encouragement of your other team members, pushing ourselves and each other and most importantly not being a jerk. Everyone has had to do a group project in school, there is always someone or multiple people who don't pull their weight or provide any value to the project. In those cases, you generally just have to suck it up and put in some extra work yourself - not here. Succeeding on a team at AltaML means sustained "A" performance. That means being the most effective you can be. Ineffective people can work really hard and always maintain a "B" performance - that won't work here.

Open communication is key. It is important that managers communicate frequently with their team members so they know where they stand and there are no surprises. We like to use the "keeper test" to judge how a member of the team is doing. What this means is a manager should ask themselves, if you found out this person was leaving for another job, would you fight to keep them? If the answer is no then a discussion needs to be had immediately. An opportunity to turn things around will certainly be given to anyone found in this position but you can't create a culture of an amazing team pursuing ambitious goals with "B" level team members.

We suck compared to how great we want to become. There are a lot of big goals and big ideas driving this business. Things are changing quickly and often. We are growing at a crazy rate. That is going to mean we don't have everything figured out. That means we can guarantee you there will be some missteps along the way. We can also guarantee there is huge opportunity for growth, learning, and excitement. Bear with us through the missteps but hang on for the ride!

Company Traditions

Lunch & Learns

Lunch & Learn sessions happen once a month. It’s an opportunity for people to share their knowledge and expertise with the rest of the company.

Friday Presentations & Social

New staff are welcomed on Fridays and all Fridays involve a company-wide staff meeting and an informal social. The weekly All Hands usually begins with someone giving a short presentation about themselves that they’ve prepared ahead of time. This lets everyone get to know that person a bit better and we typically learn a lot from everybody’s different backgrounds. All Hands also includes the Lion and the Monkey, as well as any new staff introductions, announcements and presentations. We get back to work and then break early and reconvene for an informal social.

The Lion & the Monkey

The Lion is given to the person who has done a great job, finished something special or in general has "killed it" in the past week. It is the responsibility of the current holder of the Lion to collect nominations for the next recipient. We now also announce “mini-lions” as there are frequently many nominations for outstanding contributions each week.

The Monkey goes to someone who has messed up during the week - no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. The idea with the Monkey is to learn from your failures and to share those learnings with the team.

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