Full-remote and asynchronous as values: Interview with Christophe Pasquier, CEO of Slite

Yorick Cool

8 July 2020

Full-remote and asynchronous as values: Interview with Christophe Pasquier, CEO of Slite

Yorick Cool

A company’s culture is not just a marketing tool, it is also a management tool. You want to understand why? Discover why below! But maybe you’re also looking for advice on how to manage remote work, which has become an even bigger issue in recent times? You’re going to find that here too!

Indeed, we interviewed Christophe Pasquier,the CEO of Slite. However, Slite’s mission and values inspire their daily practices,and these revolve around remote work and asynchronous communication. Suffice to say, there are million-dollar tips below…

Slite, who and what is it?

Slite is a French start-up created in 2017 that produces a knowledge managementsolution. It’s a simple tool that allows you to write, format, and above all organize information in a very flexible way, making everything easy to find and to search. So, a perfect tool for remote collaborative work – which Slite practices intently. Perhaps it is this consistency between Slite’s mission and values on the one hand, and their product and practices on the other, that explains why they have just raised 10 million

Discovering Slite’s mission and values

Before you can use your mission and values, you still need to know them. So we asked Christophe Pasquier how Slite discovered its mission and values.

Christophe explains that the Slite project started by knowing “what” they wanted to create They knew they wanted to develop a fun to use documentation tool for teams, so that teams could be more effective. The company’s growth, as well as customer interactions, allowed them to discover their mission and values. It was in their own practices that they identified what made sense. They now know that they aim to enable teams to work more thoughtfully.

While the company’s values emerged quite spontaneously, managerial work is required to verbalize them, to strengthen them and to continue to impulse a direction to them.

In short, the culture of Slite is neither completely top-down nor completely bottom-up,it is a subtle interaction between the two that creates it constantly.

Full-remote work

Slite’s mission revolves around collaboration and one of its values is remote work. As a result, they transitioned to a full-remote model. It is a very topical subject, and we wanted to know how the transition was carried out – and how a culture is maintained in such a context.

For Christophe, remote work is something that is accessible to almost any organization. But it can’t be improvised! It takes a lot of work on the part of the organization and especially on the part of the management. Remote work requires a high level of organizational maturity. Christophe sees this as an good thing:any company will have to mature past a certain size. By switching to full-remote, you’re forced to do it earlier, and harder.

There are various aspects. Obviously, there are many areas that require a certain administrative effort. The issues of insurance, of costs, all this must be considered.

But beyond that, the effort to maintain a vibrant culture and effective and creative collaboration is crucial. Slite invests a lot to make sure it works. They have many practices and rituals, among which:

  • Every two months, everyone meets in person for a three-day “Offslite”. A devotee of written culture and remote, Christophe stresses that seeing people in person remains necessary to get to know each other better and to understand each other better. These sessions are used to prepare for the next two-month cycle.
  • Every other “Offslite” is held in more exotic location to add a touch of fun and relaxation /teambuilding.
  • There is a lot of “care” in the interaction between people. At a pure interpersonal level, but also in the way people management is carried out. Christophe holds very frequent 1-2-1 (every week or two weeks) with his direct or indirect collaborators, and this will reverberate throughout the organization. Beyond that, there is a strong culture of leadership by example with a caring approach.
  • Likewise, great importance is given to congratulating people publicly.

In addition, human resources processes (recruitment, onboarding, performance management) are also designed to not only be effective, but to strengthen the culture:

  • Recruitment is aimed at people aligned with the culture of Slite. People with a lot of empathy and a taste for collaboration. Who have something special or significant in their background. More than performance at all costs (such as big schools or big 4 careers), what is sought is the ability to bring something to the team. Not so much a rockstar as someone who really wants to play in a band.
  • In the onboarding cycle and then in performance management there is a strong practice of feedback. Peer reviews (360° feedback) based on a “roles and outcomes” approach punctuate the experience. This allows people to grow and understand what they are doing well and how to improve.

Culture, a perpetual work in progress

Christophe stresses that it is an ongoing task. If all the practices discussed are effective today, he is already thinking about how to evolve them in line with the growth of the company. In the future, the “Offslites” might be done by squads (the different teams within Slite) rather than for the whole company for example.

Slite currently notices more synergies and commonalities with its customers than was originally expected. All organizations that like Slite share a taste and desire for modes of organization that go in a direction comparable to what is described in Reinventing Organisations by Frédéric Laloux. Christophe calls it “Teal-ish” to mean that it is vast, a state of mind rather than a precise or narrow concept. But realizing this feeds Slite’s thinking about its branding and even its long-term positioning. Working on their culture and identity is therefore a permanent endeavour that inspires all the different aspects of Slite’s activities.

From this perspective, Slite’s ongoing work on their mission and values allows them not only to have a culture that suits them, but to make important strategic decisions.

Thanks to Christophe for his time! And don’t hesitate to contact us if you too want to use your culture as a management tool!

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