The Most Surprising Lessons From My First Months at Expanse
Every new role brings new challenges and surprises with it. My first month at Expanse has been a firehose of information and training sessions, all of which I expected to have during the first month at a new job. But during my one-month check-in with my manager, one thing that I didn’t expect was to be asked: “What’s surprised you the most?”
My biggest surprise – and something that sets Expanse apart from every other company I’ve worked for – is the openness and transparency we practice here and the degree to which it’s ingrained into our culture.
Many companies say that they value transparency and a data-driven decision process, but Expanse truly lives by this code.
So I wanted to highlight some examples I observed in the first couple of months of working here at Expanse.
1. Ask Me Anything
Our weekly all-hands meetings end with an AMA (ask-me-anything) session led by our CEO, Tim Junio, in which he and other members of the executive team answer questions from employees.
One recent question was about our San Francisco office’s “open-office” layout, and whether we have plans to address its potential shortcomings. In response, Dan Quinlan, our VP of Finance and Operations, presented for 12 minutes on relevant industry research on the open-office layout, the reasoning behind why we chose to rent our current office in San Francisco, and on various other aspects that made using an open layout the most financially prudent decision across our various offices.
Instead of answering with a sentence that private offices don’t make financial sense, he provided the data to back up his reasoning and was open to questions and feedback.
2. Company-wide emails
Every Monday, Tim sends a weekly email with updates from every department across the company. He also periodically sends detailed emails about anything from diversity and company culture to Expanse’s press coverage and trends in the industry. I can tell that maintaining company culture is an important factor in the minds of leadership as they make decisions in the process of scaling the company.
During the two check-ins with my manager that I’ve had in the month since I started here, my manager has asked me if I had any feedback for him. Starting from my very first week at Expanse, people were encouraging me to think of ways to improve processes and not be shy about providing feedback. At first, I was a bit hesitant, but I soon realized that everyone at Expanse welcomes constructive feedback – upward and downward – and it’s an integral part of a startup’s growth. Since then, I’ve had discussions with recruiters about my thoughts on our interview process and discussions with my teammates about the onboarding process.
Transparency and flexibility to respond to feedback, especially at a startup, is incredibly important. These are necessary parts of creating a culture where employees are invested in the company and feel that their voices are being heard. In the short amount of time I’ve been here, I’ve seen the leadership continuously open to feedback and acting on it.
Before starting at Expanse, these aspects of company culture were not necessarily something I could pin down as what I was looking for in a company. I knew, in general, what kind of workplace I wanted to join and what kind of teams and people I wanted to work with. Now that I am here, I know that moving into this role at Expanse was the right decision for me.