To build a company culture that employees can really identify themselves with and to develop work structures that fit different types of employees – seems to be much easier said than done. Still, it is possible. The Berlin-based app analytics company adjust has developed its own approach and methods in these regards. An interview with Human Relations Manager Anna Jakovleva about decision making processes, team spirit and autonomy.
Anna, how would you describe the adjust company culture?
We let our employees shape and define the company culture and only support them in realising it.
When the company culture is supposed to be shaped by employees, this usually goes hand-in-hand with high involvement in corporate decisions. Are bottom-up methods part of the decision making processes at adjust?
Our employees’ opinion is very important to us, that is why we try to let them make as many decisions themselves as possible. This gives the employees the chance to have a direct influence on the company’s direction of development. They can improve their decision-making competency in leadership trainings that are open for all. Additionally, we have regular team meetings and continuous development meetings, as well as peer reviews and company-wide workshops to have everyone connected and on the same page, and to enable anonymous feedback. Our company trips, for example, provide good opportunities to exchange ideas and feedback between the teams and locations, in both informal and formal ways. The feedback that was generated in the January trip to Thailand was implemented only a few month later. Our employees will also have a say in the design of our future office. Only the choice of the next destination for the company trip is one that the organisation team makes completely on its own. ;)
Speaking of autonomy: Also – or maybe especially – self-determined work needs its standards. How do you deal with the conflict of quantity vs quality of work?
We give more importance to quality and for us, quantity is a natural consequence. We invest much into the training of our employees, which also means that better quality can be achieved in less time. Our account managers have regular product trainings to be able to answer faster to difficult questions, editors adopt a natural good writing style through regular feedback, developers write mutual code-reviews and in case there are any knowledge gaps left, they get closed at the latest at our Friday talks that are recorded and transmitted to other company locations.
The performance of an employee depends a lot on his/her well-being. What does adjust do to support the employees’ health and well-being?
Corporate runs, table tennis tournaments, climbing, bootcamps, yoga, volleyball, skating – are only a few of the activities we engage in together. Every employee brings his/her own interests to the company and very often finds like-minded colleagues. From time to time there is input for relaxation during our Friday talks in form of relaxation techniques or yoga. (We also offer additional support for colleagues from abroad with worse medical care systems.)
Our employees choose their working hours themselves. This means some arrive already before 9 am, for example because they have to bring their children to a day-care center early in the morning and leave at 5 pm hurrying to soccer training. Others are no early bird kind of people and prefer working in the afternoon, so they come in a bit later. Broadly speaking: the most important thing for us is that tasks are done within given deadlines and in highest quality. How, when and where they are done is the employees’ decision. All we are trying is to provide a good working atmosphere and to encourage our employees to take responsibility for their own health and well-being. The natural consequence is that most of them are voluntarily in the office during core working hours, probably not least to have colleagues and friends around them. Also, every one can set up his workplace according to his own wishes. As a result, desks are converted into high desks multiple times a day, in the kitchen there are more fruits than sweets, and spices from all over the world, and office guests are welcomed by dogs.
Company trips to Thailand, autonomous work and a great team spirit – adjust offers employees much more than only the obligatory basket with free fruits. For many people, all of this probably sounds like a dream job. But still, these things are not always enough in the long term. You probably want employees to still want to work for adjust in 2, 3 even 5 years. What do you do to retain talents?
We do NOT have the approach to desperately hold someone in the company. In the first place we have people working at adjust that want to grow and like to be part of the team. Of course we value the knowledge of adjustees that have shaped the company for years, and we like to share this with the whole company, for example in form of slackbot programmed karma or small celebrations of work anniversaries.
During the adjust journey we support the learning process and the professional development of every single employee through coaching and financial means and identify perspectives for development. We value open source work of our developers and regard it as a great opportunity to give something back to the community. Also we have very transparent processes that enable transitions between teams, something that already happened multiple times in the past. We take the time to determine together with the employee in which direction his/her journey should continue, even if this means that we have to create a new role for this person. In this case, also strategic considerations have an influence: if we really need this position. Only then we advertise the position internally and choose the best person for the job. We have to confess that at least half of the colleagues that came to us with these kind of questions had a change of role.
How about a final statement in about tweet length: Working at adjust means…
To work at adjust is an experience you can’t fit into 140 characters..