BeanTalk: Emma Braeye

VP People at In The Pocket

Self-managing teams and coaching leadership for a strong culture

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This podcast features Emma Braeye, Chief People Officer at In The Pocket, discussing their organizational culture and practices. She emphasizes the importance of organization culture from day one and how it shapes their approach to employee engagement and growth.

Emma describes In The Pocket as a digital product studio known for developing innovative digital solutions for various companies. They prioritize their people, realizing that without them, they cannot deliver the desired outcomes. Their founders, Jeroen De Meyer, Pieter-Jan Boute, and Louis Jonckheere, have always placed a strong focus on people and employees. This priority is ingrained in the company’s DNA.

The organization culture at In The Pocket is characterized by agility and constant change. As a technology-driven company, they have had to adapt and evolve rapidly to stay relevant in the industry. While change is a constant aspect of their work, they strive to maintain a solid foundation and create an environment where people can grow and have a sense of ownership.

While In The Pocket has a trendy office with perks like ping-pong tables, Emma emphasizes that these are not the defining elements of their culture. They place greater importance on instilling a clear vision, mission, and set of values. They have defined values such as ownership, integrity, agility, and leadership. These values are embedded in their recruitment process and guide their decision-making.

Employee onboarding is a crucial focus for In The Pocket. They aim to make new employees feel welcomed and included even before their first day. They provide small gestures like sending a book relevant to their future role, allowing them to prepare and feel part of the company’s culture from the start.

Emma differentiates between happy employees and engaged employees. While perks like ping-pong tables may contribute to happiness, engagement goes deeper. In The Pocket aims for employees who feel committed to the company’s mission, vision, and goals. They have identified leadership, social connection, feedback culture, and learning and development as crucial factors for employee engagement.

To keep employees connected to the company’s goals, In The Pocket emphasizes transparency and open communication. They regularly share information, including financial data, during quarterly meetings. They involve employees in the strategy development process and encourage each team to contribute to achieving the overall objectives. Self-managing teams play a significant role in their agile way of working, enabling them to deliver projects efficiently.

Leadership remains essential in self-managing teams at In The Pocket. Leaders take on a coaching role, supporting teams and removing blockers to ensure project success. While teams typically have a leader, they also encourage teams to be self-sufficient when leaders are absent.

Developing a feedback culture has been a challenge for In The Pocket. While technical feedback is common among software engineers, they aim to encourage feedback on interpersonal relationships. They have introduced workshops on psychological safety and implemented a feedback loop that emphasizes giving and receiving feedback effectively.

In terms of career growth, In The Pocket focuses on the impact individuals can have rather than a traditional hierarchical progression. They have developed a career development framework that allows employees to focus on their desired impact and the skills needed to achieve it.

Emma believes that the opportunity for employees to give their best exists at In The Pocket, but the challenge lies in motivating individuals to seize that opportunity. They aim to give everyone a chance to contribute, develop ideas, and grow within the company. Inclusivity is a priority, and they actively work to ensure that every hardworking individual is recognized.

Emma is in her element when she can contribute to In The Pocket’s growth as an innovative and exemplary company. She finds fulfillment in building a positive and forward-thinking environment that sets an example for the industry.

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