The culture of a company is essential for its success. Especially when experiencing fast growth it is a challenge for a company to maintain the original company culture. Shopgate, a mobile commerce company developing apps and mobile websites for online retailers, has grown a lot in the last years. Despite the growth, Shopgate wants to stay a company where teamwork is most important and every employee has the chance to get involved. An interview with HR Manager Beatrice Fisher from Shopgate’s office at Landgrafenschloss Butzbach about teamwork, hierarchies and engagement.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! How would you describe your company’s culture? What makes Shopgate different from other companies?
“At Shopgate, every single one does his part to accomplish our mission: to make our customers (online retailers) even more successful! That means everyone is asked to get involved, to act autonomously and thereby to keep developing and improving Shopgate. To make this possible we create a suitable environment: enough space and freedom to develop ideas, for personal development and for always finding new topics. All of us pull together, and we also like to do common activities in our free time: spontaneous barbecues, after-work-nights in our favourite bar or gaming nights in our “castle’s” own chill out corners, everyone can find his place. Shopgate thrives on its employees and their entrepreneurial motivation!”
Pulling together in one direction is very important. But with more and more employees, coordinating also becomes more complicated and Shopgate counts more than 200 employees by now. How do the hierarchies at Shopgate look like?
“In the first place, hierarchies exist only on paper. Here, all exchange happens at eye level, even with the top management. Of course growing so fast in the last years meant that we had to introduce appropriate responsibilities and levels. But this does not mean that the new intern cannot introduce and implement new ideas as well as anyone else, as long as they make sense for the company. We are open for the most diverse opinions, methods and approaches, when they can help us move forward. For example in our development division there is a monthly exploration day, where the employees can try out new things and test different tools, programs and techniques. Professional development is essential for a first mover like us.”
Even with the exchange with the top management happening at eye level, it is not always easy for employees to get an opportunity for this exchange. That’s why Google has weekly “Thank-God-it’s-Friday-Meetings”, where employees can ask their questions live to the management. Do you have something similar at Shopgate?
“In every quarter we have a key note, where everyone comes together and the management gives details about the current numbers, developments and strategic actions. Every department presents their status quo and future goals, and at the end every employee can ask his questions directly to the management. Afterwards we all meet in the castle headquarter for a relaxed exchange and a barbecue. The key note is being recorded every time so even the employees who could not participate have access to it.”
So at Shopgate there are quite a few opportunities for employees to get involved. But on the other hand that also requires employees who want to get involved. What do you do to promote employee engagement at Shopgate?
“We talk about this very openly and try to motivate employees already on their first day, the onboarding day, to get engaged. Whether on professional level, by attracting a new employee or by giving ideas for the next team event. Also our teams are strongly connected and exchange views not only at lunch but also at our bazaars, where the whole company gets to test new features and product developments and give their feedback. Regular strategy key notes including Q&A sessions with the management complete the picture.”
Well connected teams can really improve a lot. Do you focus strongly on that aspect? What does teamwork mean to Shopgate?
“Teamwork is essential for us! You have the best ideas when working together, much more than when working alone. And other people’s ideas can mean the crucial step in a completely new direction. We at Shopgate regard ourselves as one big team, being together on the mission to make online retailers even more successful, and not only on the DACH market but also in the USA! Bazaars, cross-functional teams in development, teambuilding events or key notes provide the opportunity to exchange and engage outside of the own team. It is very important for us that everyone understands the big picture and does not merely vegetate in his own microcosmos.”
Teamwork and engagement seem to be very important keywords at Shopgate. That really doesn’t sound like working in one’s own microcosmos. Now, would you like to say something more in conclusion?
“Shopgate is a great employer with a huge potential and international impact. Everyone who believes in our mission has every opportunity here to express himself and to set things in motion. The wellbeing of the employees is always very important for us. That is also the reason why we just recently hired a Feel Good Manager to improve the internal communication and to optimize processes. She will connect the teams even more and initiate new measures that will make us even more efficient and faster, but will also make us happier!”