The Shield GEO company values are Grow, Do The Right Thing, Own It and Be Human. We believe these values embody what it means to be a part of the Shield team and are present in the ways we communicate internally and externally.
Values unify our team, give us goals to work towards and metrics to test ourselves and future onboards against. While we welcome, encourage, and actively seek out a diverse team, our values are non-negotiable ideals that we deem necessary for healthy company culture and successful business.
Establishing our values is as much about what we won’t do as it is what we cultivate. That means setting boundaries and limitations to avoid spending time, energy and resources in areas we as a company don’t place value. While simultaneously encouraging and investing in the areas that perpetuate our values.
When establishing our company values, we really wanted to capture the essence of what was already crucial to our team rather than forcing ideas that seemed good in theory. With this in mind, our entire team was involved in the process of developing and formalising these values.
We see this play out in the metaphor of growing wheat. The growth of each individual plant directly impacts the overall crops yield, with each stage of growth from seed to harvest compounding on the previous stage. You can’t have grain without first having seedlings, just as you can’t have a seamless workflow without first investing in developing systems and processes. No stage is inherently more valuable than the other, they’re all just steps along the way.
At ShieldGEO, we know learning helps us get better. That’s why we value growth across all levels. This is not a ‘company growth at all costs’ approach but rather a culture that enables, facilitates and encourages development at every stage — individually, systematically and on an overall company level. We genuinely believe that when we focus on getting better at every stage, it will have flow-on effects throughout our whole company.
Our Customer Success Manager Brenda sums up our sentiments well when she says: “I think growth is a phenomenon that generates in particular but translates in general. I truly feel that individual growth (technical, interpersonal, knowledge-wise, etc.) causes the company to grow in the same measure.
Some company initiatives that reflect our value of growth well include reimbursing all employees for books on personal or professional development and slack channels specifically set up to share information, articles and ideas.
We also actively run company-wide ‘projects,’ which are assignments to better something in our company. Projects often start with a comment or idea from one of our team on how we can improve a process, workflow or an area we can expand in some way.
It’s a method for people from all teams to come together and work on something they’re interested in, to the betterment of our whole company.
“Shield is a lot more open to new ideas and approaches compared to some of my previous workplaces where certain procedures just had to be followed,” says Daisy, our Global Mobility Finance Consultant.
“At Shield, we are always asked what we think of the new ideas and changes before they are actually implemented,” she says “and whether we have changes or improvements.”
When our Marketing Manager Sujay wanted to learn about the recruitment process, instead of merely asking questions he joined the team for a while.
While contributing to the team, Sujay saw our process grow from a very simple approach which looked out for qualifications, high grades and well-known companies in the listed work experience through to a multi-step strategy including a type form questionnaire designed to look for specific characteristics.
“Our company was becoming increasingly remote, and we started recognising that certain qualities were necessary to succeed in a remote role.”
We then included multiple interviews to ensure our candidates fit our values as well as the role.
“I enjoyed the recruitment process a lot because we were constantly reflecting, asking ourselves how can we do better. We were always tweaking things, and because we kept trying to improve the process, we were getting better results too,” Sujay says.
“Interestingly, my stint with recruitment had a strong impact on my role as digital marketing manager,” Sujay says of his time in the team.
A value of growth also means avoiding going from crisis to crisis. When we run into issues, or things go wrong, we take the time to address it.
Brenda says, “ShieldGEO may have experienced crises but we overcame them, either by developing a new process, changing a mind-set or acquiring a new set of skills.”
We learn from our mistakes and integrate changes as early as possible. This stops a downward spiral in its tracks and means we are growing together.
We also don’t do things that aren’t sustainable. If growth in one area will jeopardise another area, we’ll either alter it to fit our current processes or shelve it until we’re ready to take it on responsibly.
“This will help us be successful for the long-term,” Daisy says.
It’s as if we were to choose to weed our crops by hand over using harsh chemicals. Forgoing the easy way out in favour of a solution that considers everyone involved. We don’t just want to get rid of weeds, we want to find the best solution to get rid of weeds – even if it takes more effort.
As a company who provide compliant employment for our clients worldwide – doing the right thing is one of our highest values.
From the moment we take on a client we are following strict guidelines to ensure the entire process remains not only legally compliant but also respectful and understanding to all parties involved.
“Doing the right thing” is the heart of our business and the key value: clients contact us believing and trusting ShieldGEO will take care of their employees needs and ensure everything is legal and compliant,” says Anna, one of our Account Managers.
A firm commitment to doing the right thing can sometimes mean saying no to a client request or challenging expectations to ensure the employment offer, including all benefits and taxes, adhere to legal requirements in the host country.
Our Customer Success Manager Brenda says it’s worth it in the end.
“Sometimes the best things are the most difficult ones — saying no to a client, fighting relentlessly to make sure full compliance is achieved, going through endless calls and emails to find a solution to a problem,” she says.
“But at the end of the day it ensures our clients receive not [just] a good [solution], but the ‘best solution’.”
While we, of course, have processes and systems in place to maintain a high level of accuracy and efficiency, doing the right thing can sometimes mean stepping outside of the normal operation. It can mean applying critical thinking and fulfilling the intent of the process rather than just the steps required.
“Critical thinking and analysing the information we receive from the partners and clients is very important for us,” says Anna. “We don’t simply ‘copy paste.’”
Svetlana, our head of Implementation, had a situation where the local partner she was dealing with created a termination document that wasn’t at our preferred standard.
“I had to go back and forth with the local partner until I had the exact wording that I wanted that was clear to the client,” she says.
The process steps required her to ask for the document from the local partner and then send it to the employee, however, doing the right thing meant taking the extra time to ensure everything was to the best possible standard.
“We need to double check that not only the spelling is correct but also the information they provide on the official letter makes sense and is readable and what the client wants.”
“It’s up to us to make sure that the level of service is maintained across the company.”
Doing the right thing is also evident in the things we won’t do. As a business, we won’t cut corners or leave matters unresolved.
Our head of finance, Wee Yen, describes this well when she says,” we follow the established Shield process … as it’s proven [to work]. Going rogue will break the system.”
When we cut corners or skip steps, there is more chance of making a mistake or missing something important.
She adds that while it’s the role of management to “be an advocate for the established process,” there is always room for improvement and growth. “If there is a more efficient or effective way of doing [the task] — raise it [with your manager].”
There’s a reason we have defined roles. We need each member of our team to take ownership of their individual tasks because they make up an important part of the bigger picture. There are many different roles in the process of growing wheat to make bread. Without the farmers, the millers couldn’t do their jobs and without the millers the bakers couldn’t fulfil their role and ultimately if one of them failed there would be no bread. It’s the same way for us.
As a company made up of mostly remote workers and active encouragers of flexible working conditions, we have to be able to trust that the work will get done without actually seeing it happen.
We never micro-manage or hover – our distributed workforce simply cannot support this.
This doesn’t mean tasks are assigned without support. Ownership to us means empowering our employees to ask questions and speak up. We are committed to providing complete briefs at the beginning of tasks and projects, proper systems that facilitate the best outcomes and promote a culture of asking questions, challenging the norm, and reaching out for help.
Wee Yen describes this culture well,
“Management should give clear communication on what they expect of their team [and] be open to challenges and robust discussion.”
She also describes owning a task as being willing to defend it.
In our experience, it’s this balance of defending your position and being open to challenges that produce the best outcomes for our daily tasks and our organisation.
Owning tasks also takes pressure off our teammates.
“When commitment to deliver, for example to a client, isn’t met and colleagues don’t take ownership of their work or errors, it affects everyone else along the chain,” says Givanny, one of our Customer Success Managers.
This isn’t to say that roles are rigid without crossovers or support. Before Jacky went on holiday to Japan, Sujay assigned him a task that needed completing.
“When I realised he was on leave, I just assumed the task would naturally be put on hold till he got back or I had to figure it out myself,” he says.
“But before going on leave, Jacky had actually handed it over to [another colleague] Jessica and explained my needs to her. Jessica then reached out to me with the completed task, and it was such a pleasant surprise that he had taken the time to hand it over, so I didn’t have to wait,” says Sujay.
“The fact that he did that made things on my end flow very smoothly since I didn’t have to stress about where things were at.”
Jacky says taking ownership of his tasks has changed the way he views work in general.
“When I feel like I “own” something, [I am more] critical towards the design and functionality of the end product,” he says.
“I’m more willing to take a bit longer developing the solution, so it works well and is futureproof, rather than delivering for the sake of hitting arbitrary deadlines.”
Taking ownership of our tasks also means we don’t wait for others to initiate. Or as Givanny says, it’s about “looking at the bigger picture and beyond just your role.”
When a team member notices inefficiencies, potential problems, or simply finishes a task earlier than expected ownership means making the first move towards finding a solution.
Wee Yen noticed the multi-step requirements for one of her tasks was slowing down the entire process.
“Because there are so many steps to get one thing done, I missed some steps. So, I started to question the purpose of every step,” she says.
We don’t expect all team members to know how to complete all tasks but we know that when employees speak up or draw attention to issues they’re facing, we can resolve things much more quickly and smoothly.
Through her questioning, the process was updated to be simpler and more efficient for both Wee Yen and the company.
We think sharing bread together is the perfect image to express the level of human connection we’re aiming for. It’s the final product of a long process, in which we’ve each played our small part. The success belongs to each of us equally. But a meal is not just for those who’ve been involved in the making process, it’s a way invite others in and bring people together. At ShieldGEO, everyone has a place at the table, and there’s more than enough for everyone.
Being human, to us, means remembering we’re only people. It also means recognising that, in all areas, we’re dealing with real humans.
As such, we’ve made an intentional effort to set up a culture in favour of over-communication. When much of our communication happens through emails, instant messaging and other written forms, it’s imperative that we put effort into communicating clearly, effectively and with a measure of kindness.
“Everyone should remain professional with all types of communication,” says Nikki, our client services manager.
But she finds written communication needs an extra level of respect.
“They seem to have the most impact on people,” she says.
Overcommunication also means we avoid leaving any ambiguity. As a rule, we don’t leave people guessing. Whether this is internal communication or with our clients – we don’t assume prior knowledge or understanding and always lay out our requests clearly and comprehensively.
This is particularly important in cases where we need to provide feedback or correction.
Carlo, our assistant finance manager, says he makes sure his feedback is “always constructive, never destructive.”
“Always be constructive as it offers guidance to any individual and encourages development,” he says.
“I strongly believe Shield has been manifesting this positive value and it starts at the top. Tim and Duncan always make sure that they motivate us with encouraging words [as well as always giving us] an opportunity for development. I believe this influences each of us [to embrace] this value throughout the organisation.”
As a global company with employees and clients living and working all over the world, we are always dealing with diverse backgrounds, cultures and communication methods. This means taking extra care to communicate clearly.
Jennifer, our Global Mobility Subject Matter Expert, tends to tailor her communication to fit the different cultures she’s interacting with.
“When communicating with Clients, I try to “treat people how they like to be treated”. Part of the challenge is understanding the “how”,” she says.
To combat this she’ll often go through a list of considerations when drafting correspondence including level of client (CEO vs. admin), fluency in English, company and country culture (located in vs. HQ vs. individual), sensitivity of issue (critical issue vs. informational), inside knowledge (Shield experience with client).
Being human and remembering we are communicating with real people is not just an internal value. We avoid changing our behaviour when communicating internally and externally. We don’t believe in a ‘best behaviour’ policy when dealing with clients. Instead, we encourage professional, respectful communication at all times and love it when we see our client-facing employees bring a sense of real human connection to their client relationships.
Kelly, one of our Account Managers, makes sure she explains early on what our processes are, so there are no surprises.
“I make sure I go over the invoicing process and key dates, also the reason for the dates and explain the process. The implementation team also go over this information, but I like to make sure they have also heard this from me.”
She says this reduces any misunderstandings later on and ensures a positive relationship.