Last week I took part in 8th Employer Branding Forum based in Warsaw. The theme of the meeting was the question asked by the organizers “Is the culture of the organization important?”. In the introduction Julita Dąbrowska from Kalitero presented conclusions from the research carried out on the 7 best-rated companies from the Clutch portal. Research clearly shows that the culture of the organization has the greatest impact on shaping the employer’s brand. Together, we analyzed issues that affect the culture. The most important of them are:
- clearly defined purpose of the company’s existence
- the main/core values
- inspiring and wise leadership
- team work and communication
We focused on core values because it turned out to be consistent for all companies. It was:
- trust and responsibility
- team work
Research showed that the atmosphere is the most important factor for employees. Friendly management develops the brand and makes it valuable. In the second part of the meeting, it was possible to learn more about the way of managing organizations that had high ratings in the Clutch ranking. I’ll try to present you two of the most inspiring speeches and briefly mention the rest.
One of the most interesting talks on Employer Branding Conference was prepared by Magda Plasun from Boldare. She tried to explain the Holacracy idea introduced to their company a few months ago. It is a great concept, but as Magda admitted, it requires getting rid of old habits and stereotypes. Holacracy follows the Agile method, which gives flexibility and space for dynamic changes. Everyone is equal in the organization.
Holacracy is a new management system for the company but it’s better to call it the organizational culture. If I had to find one word that accurately describes the holacracy concept, it would be “potential”.
In companies with a hierarchical structure, we have obligations imposed on us by managers. Obligatory tasks don’t leave the space for creativity and development. Under these circumstances there is the tendency to procrastinate.
Such a system causes frustration and dissatisfaction. The manager is responsible for completing the tasks but does not perform them himself. It makes him overloaded, stressed out and finally deprives him of control over the individual people’s work. In holacracy everything is based on democracy. There is a set of rules, but we choose our roles consulting them with our team (so-called circle). As a result we perform interesting tasks important both for us (as they develop our skills) and the company. We are not attached to the role. They can always be changed, modified, passed on or dropped depending on the situation. We can do several completely different roles in different circles.
Sounds like chaos? None of these things. This way of organizing makes people more creative, use their full potential and most importantly-they feel responsible for their tasks. In holacracy culture, we are in the decision making process.
In my opinion, Magda’s presentation was a very interesting starting point for productivity and satisfaction at work. It benefits us and the company. Although Holacracy is a new concept for me, this model of organization is very close to the culture we have in Visuality.
Another interesting presentation was by Tomasz Szymański from SoftwareMill. Tomasz has been successfully running a company for a 10 years where people work 100% remotely. He talked about the challenges of running this kind of company, the pros and cons of such work, and the methods they use to connect despite the distance. They manage to create an atmosphere where work isn’t the only thing that connects them. At the beginning I was skeptical about this kind of idea but short presentation showed that this is not just a theory. This system actually works.
They say that remote system is beneficial — as it gives the opportunity to work from every place in the world in international environment, surrounded by the family. It limits the number of meetings and is convenient. You also have the ability to regulate working hours (settle matters). Benefits are obvious and it’s hard not to agree that we tend to be jealous when we see that we can work without leaving the comforts of home. But how to create closer relationships and reduce the number of misunderstandings coming from difficulties in communication? The key to success is to realize the difficulty of remote work and be aware of the problems it may create.
The most frequently mentioned defects are:
- limited contact with people
- deconcentration by the presence of the family or friends
- the need for self-discipline
- lack of social acceptance
- it’s much easier to extend your working hours
The values that help diminish disadvantages are:
- teal organization
It’s difficult to disagree with Tomasz’s opinion, that working remotely can make us more productive. When we know that nobody sees our actions, we unconsciously try to prove ourselves and others that we are efficient.
Of course, one of the most important things in remote work is communication with the rest of the team, which takes place in SoftwareMill not only through Slack but also radio channels (Teamspeak-CB radio). There are some channels closely related to work but on top of that they can use Slack to talk about their interests to get to know each other better. In addition, every month there is a meeting (in each month it’s a different city because there are people from every part of Poland) where the professional issues are discussed, and then there is time to relax. Once a year they organize one weekend away with families and one only for employees when they do barbecues, car racing, paint-ball and this kind of events.
As I said at the beginning — I believe that this is possible and it is not just fiction — but it certainly requires good preparation, onboarding procedure, willingness and awareness of the difficulties we have to face.
Another presented topic was the onboarding procedure at the Nest Bank.
It was interesting from the perspective of the company, which is quite new and is developing dynamically. It is a big challenge to make a new employee accustomed, as they are often stressed with new environment. Magda described how to introduce a new employee to the company based on 4C rules:
She presented the statistics based on their project about the way of building a new form of onboarding process. They pay attention to small things that make new employees comfortable on the first day at work. It’s always a challenge for HR department. In our company, the onboarding process is much easier. Visuality isn’t as big as NestBank, so on the first day a new person is able to feel relaxed and communicate with everyone in the office.
We also discussed about new trends in on-boarding and how it should look in the perfect world.
Gabrysia from Capgemini also touched the issue of onboarding procedure but she mainly talked about the values in their company. It has been unchanged since 1967 when the company was established which I find impressive. In Capgemini they have observed frequent return of employees in recent years which is probably the best advertisement of the atmosphere they managed to create (it’s actually something we have seen in our company a few times). She shared some ideas on how to make employees feel important and appreciated.
Last but not least was the presentation of Renata from PolskaPress which emphasized SCRUM value of the organization’s culture because it’s universal and can be implemented not only in IT companies.
It was the first event of this kind that I took part in, so I have no comparison. The topic was very crucial and the talks were well-chosen and interesting. The information created the willingness to dig deeper and it gave me a solid foundation for future exploration. They could certainly evoke the creativity needed in this kind of work. The organization’s culture, despite being intangible, is the most important product of the company that we all work together on.