For us, at Merixstudio folks this type of long-winded structure, where you have a board, a CEO, managers, assistant managers is not what we want or need. Would it be possible to run a business in a different way, without the traditional "boss" who makes all decisions? Could you give more powers up to your teams? What does this have to do with the practice and day-to-day operation of the company? Many will say that it isn't innovative - I agree! But do you always need to do something innovative to make things better? I think that already tested methods are much more utilitarian. You don't always have to pave the way and reinvent the wheel.
The wind of changes constantly changeable
There is only one thing that's certain in the IT industry with such dynamic development of the market, specialists and technologies - it's constant change. As you might guess, such a state of affairs is tough to control, and many firms are now facing its negative consequences in various ways. At Merixstudio, the change became a permanent item in our day-to-day work. We believe that only through finding strengths, focusing on sustainable development, specialising in a particular area, and using the potential of employees' talent pool (which means new ideas and their motivation) we will be able to figure out these changes.
What does this have to do with business reality? These are not merely empty words with no real meaning. It's time to use such words as leadership and coaching. When we got the right people (team leaders) in the right places in the company, we tried to use all these good practices you can find on the Internet on our own. It all happened "by the way" using leaders' knowledge but without the support of professionals. However, we decided that this issue should be improved.
To pass on the reins to the people - the efficient management of software house (and more)
Uber, Airbnb - I think very few people don't know these startups. What is the secret ingredient of their success? Besides a brilliant business idea, they gambled on an innovative approach to business management. The openness to employees and their ideas, workers' participation in the decision-making and focusing on promoting the development - these are core values for the culture of the mentioned startups. Uber, as well as Airbnb, know that success can only be achieved through a trust of management and trust of employees. This trust of the employee often extends to new ideas, new ways of doing things, and issues or concerns an employee has. Understanding and listening to employees is the duty of a leader which the allows for a more comfortable and productive workplace environment.
Investing in an attitude makeover and reinforcing key leadership competencies is important so we do the right things in the right way. We have set for ourselves the goal of gaining a broad spectrum of knowledge about how to be a good team leader. What we really want is getting to know key attitudes, behaviours and leadership practices, because only learning through experience will give our leaders the willingness and belief in the efficiency of new activities.
We decided to find somebody who has been successfully working with dozens of teams for many years and who is helping companies such as ours to identify areas where improvement is needed as well as develop strengths. It all started with the analysis of the current situation. Only through our leaders' candidness, could we get what should be modified, what we had been doing right, and what kind of leader's skills should be enhanced.
We made sure Mikołaj (our coach) was the man we'd been looking for. We found mistakes and shortcomings and together we both agreed to areas that needed to be improved and the implementation plan (of course, these changes continues to this very day; we still make mistakes ;)).
The key element for the success of our idea was six months of workshops dedicated to team leaders. That way, we got experience with the practice. Every day we tried to make everything we had learned during the meetings with Mikołaj a reality (and we're still doing it).
In training, we focused on practical, not only theoretical ways of achieving goals. We wanted to know how we can help both teams and individuals in:
- personal/team growth and following the career path,
- giving and getting feedback,
- suggesting solutions,
- taking care of motivation and commitment,
- setting targets and achieving them,
- setting out ways how to measure your success,
- conducting assessments.
Going into details, our team leaders strengthened their skills in areas such as:
- communicating as clearly and fully as possible,
- listening and identification of needs,
- assessment of employees' potential and coaching
- teamwork, skills, and taking care of connections,
- sharing experience and knowledge in the most helpful way,
- autonomy and the performance of management duties,
- a delegation of tasks in a manner consistent with needs and expectations,
- achieving objectives and overcoming difficulties,
- detecting potential issues and looking for optimal solutions,
- maintaining conflicts.
I could go on and on, but after this time, we know one thing - every leader is a pillar of the company. So who is the leader? For us, the team leader is someone who searches for solutions on their own as well as helps their team find solutions. A team leader is also a person who assists their team in the personal development and achieving goals. In this, we focus on real leadership, not only pretty words.
Merixstudio: the company that's open to employees' ideas
Has there been any effect on the way Merixstudio is run? You probably wouldn't read this article if it hadn't changed anything at all (or changed for the bad :)). Thanks to the good work of our leaders, with knowledge and the right skills, as well as the transfer of responsibility, we are in entirely different place today.
What is this place? It's still Różana street in Poznań, Poland (but it's going to change soon, so stay tuned!). However, it's completely different company. The newfound knowledge and practice helped us to put a new order and a new culture in this company. We can proudly boast that we have a great increase in commitment, motivation, and a satisfaction of the work results. Everything thanks to hard work of team leaders and the whole team. All contributed to:
- the fact that teams are better informed about what is happening in the company,
- we transferred a much bigger responsibility for making decisions to employees,
- decisions are made faster, and solutions are implemented without undue delay,
- we have followed up the critical remarks of our employees,
- the quality of services and digital products has improved,
- strategic decisions are taken broadly (with bigger picture :)); they are better suited to the situation in the company or on the market,
- most of the teams have career paths (we're still working on the rest),
- we've already conducted first career development discussions, assessed employees, and their work and set specific goals,
- we're putting even bigger pressure on personal growth, and we have introduced the possibility of availing a developmental budget,
- the ideas about changes in the company are coming up from Merix folks (but I have to say that we can't live up to every expectation ;)),
- we're quicker in rapid reactions to difficult situations,
- most emergencies are resolved directly between teams,
- improvements are often implemented without involving top brass,
- we've modified recruitment processes and hired 22 new workers in a year,
- we're following smoother new technologies and changing project management methods,
- projects we're working on have changed; they are much more complex, and more startups collaborate with us,
- clients choose us because of hard skills, our commitment, and the energy we're putting into our works.
We must not say every mistake is a foolish one
I hope this article doesn't seem like the glory of Merixstudio because the results are now quite clear to see - and this is the fact. Of course, it didn't always go according to plan, and not everybody can feel this change in equal measure. However, we're still working on it.
We try and try, but still, we make mistakes (in different fields). Many times we made decisions and then we had to withdraw our choice or deal with the harmful effects. And it all costs money.
The point is, as long as we learn from our mistakes and implement improvements, we are still on our way. Despite the fact that we still cannot exactly boast of a team with 200 developers or say we're "one of the biggest software house in Europe", I don't think I'm lying when I say that we have now the solid foundations for building a really high tower. This is our deep conviction.
All this is a really important change, and achieving our goals takes a long time. Year of working this way is just the beginning. We realise that we still have a lot of work to do. I can only thank the Merix folks and still listen to them, support them and their development as well as give them more chances for taking part in the management of the company. I believe that we can together overcome many difficulties and keep running the way we want. Thanks to this, we also deliver better services and products to our clients. And this is all about it.
What can be taken for granted? The decision we made a year ago was good, despite the fact that Poland is far behind other European countries when it comes to employees engagement (according to Eurofound research). Despite a difficult start, it is worth it to make this kind of change and follow it step by step. This way, you can discover the unknown (as now) power of your team. We want more! :)