Zsofia Lelner | November 19, 2019
3 Minutes Read
Defining our company culture
It is hard to accurately define our values as we don’t want to be just another company bullshitting about things we don’t actually represent. What I value most about our team is that we approach everything with a *professional mindsetand test new things iteratively. We are rational and flexible. If something doesn’t work out, we move on. This applies to both technical and managerial decisions.
We struggled a lot in trying to define our mission. We came to the realization that we’re not driven by a mission; we just want to be market-oriented experts who enjoy solving unique problems. We aim to understand our customers’ business pains and find the best solution for them (unless of course it conflicts with our base values, such as respecting personal rights). We’re not a scientific team that works on one best universal solution. Instead, we focus on one problem at a time and deliver the solution to each business need. We love trying out new things and keeping up to date with innovative tech; however, we always keep in mind that stability and safety are the most important.
We aspire to establish an environment in which our tech teams can create value and realize their potential. We prefer well-functioning habits to strict policies and always aim to improve our processes. For example, we have weekly short-term and long-term resourcing meetings and monthly strategic planning sessions. These are not only relevant for management, but for the whole company. Everyone is welcome to join the meetings and brainstorming sessions. We value our people’s opinions and respect their needs, be it trying out new tech, switching to another project, or organizing a hackathon. Our decisions always take the team’s standpoint into consideration. Even if someone is not into pushing their ideas, they are encouraged to share their opinions in one-on-one sessions. Inclusion is a cornerstone of our culture. We stay curious about everyone’s opinion, even if they aren’t experts in the topic being discussed. I like using a simple coffee break to get feedback on business- and tech-related matters from whoever is there.
Our management style is open and approachable. Anyone is free to give their input and shape our common strategy. Our workstyle can sometimes seem slightly elitist. We don’t turn people into robots (we have AI for that). We tackle complex challenges that require a proactive can-do attitude. We love setting ambitious goals and discovering new fields. We appreciate individual achievement but primarily build collaborative teams who are fueled by motivation for growth.
Managing our talent
We were lucky at the beginning as we had a trusted network of talented developers. We knew what would motivate them professionally and we provided that. We adopted a growth mindset and represented that to them. They were included in all sorts of questions and contributed to shaping the direction in which we were heading. We valued their proactive attitude and honored their outstanding individual contribution by expanding the circle of owners.
As the IT market evolved and we became more specialized, talent management became an ever-growing issue. Nowadays, there is a constant debate about where to find new talent, how to train them. and most importantly how to retain them. When it comes to hiring juniors, we believe they can only be retained if they can work on real-life business cases, not on tedious internal projects. Therefore, we only hire juniors if we can provide them with a mentor. We don’t bombard them with never-ending training materials or meaningless tasks. Every newcomer is paired with a buddy who helps them with onboarding and integration. They also get a a personal coach guiding them in their career.
We are proud of our flat organizational structure, but we’re aware of the fact that we need some framework. We work in different roles, not in specific positions. For example, I am also subordinate to the Head of Business Development and our tech guys can be tech leads or architects on certain projects. Everyone has diverse tasks, ownership, and the opportunity to see the big picture and interact with all stakeholders. We have a great talent management system, including a motivation mapping which we nurture. We also have a devmatrix, a well-established performance assessment system. Expectations and standards are based on the architects’ and the lead developers’ opinions. In addition, we evaluate each other twice a year, which is not only relevant for grade discussions and salary reviews but also fosters a healthy feedback culture. We give feedback to individuals and teams as well. We never miss a chance to organize a retrospective after project closings and quarter endings.
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