9 Secret Ingredients that Breed a Great Company Culture

Published On August 12, 2015
- Posted in Blog, The Qubiz Culture

As today marks one year since I’m formally part of the Qubiz Team, I thought it would be the perfect time for me to write a blog post about my impressions so far. By the way, my work at Qubiz revolves around marketing and UX design, if that makes any difference on how you’ll perceive what I’m about to tell you…

Now the first thing that strikes you when you start your job here is that everybody is open and friendly. Ready to help, no matter their “position” or “seniority”. At first I thought they were being nice because I was new, but nope, quite quickly I noticed that was the norm. Another thing that took me by surprise is that there’s a perceivable sense of freedom & autonomy in whatever my colleagues do. They look so independent as if they were a bunch of freelancers working in collaboration! The third thing that impresses me, but by now won’t come as a surprise, is that everybody seems happy and motivated.

In an ideal world, all this would be commonplace, but in reality it’s seldom the case. All too often companies are plagued by a tense work atmosphere, lack of motivation, arrogance, and personal grudges. So how come Qubiz is free of these motivation killers? What makes Qubiz so different?

Well, it must have something to do with its unique company culture.

OK, so it’s the company culture, but how do you get to have one that’s so cool? What ingredients do you need? Well, there are a few, so I came up with a list comprising the most important of them, in no particular order:

1. Flat organisation

By flat organisation we mean the lack of authoritative management, the lack of dominant figures who boss around and micromanage. In fact, you’ll have a hard time telling who has a leadership role or who joined the team three weeks ago as a junior.

2. Fairness

Fairness is one of the central values here at Qubiz. For instance, lead roles are assigned based on personal & professional merits, not on petty favoritism. Conversely, when someone makes a mistake, they are not penalised, but instead the team draws lessons learned from the situation and helps repair the damage. This way, it’s easier for anyone to admit their own mistakes instead of trying to hide them, rationalise them, or worse, blame others.

3. Self-esteem

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The high-morale of our team members can be explained by their increased self-esteem and confidence. People feel appreciated for their work, challenged to learn new things and to take up new responsibilities. In other words, they feel trusted and valued.

4. Proactivity & entrepreneurship

Proactivity

If I had to name the single most important personality trait that a Qubiz Team member needs to have, that’s proactivity. By it we mean having initiative, being accountable, and ultimately being able to work autonomously. In other words, we expect more from our people than to just do what they’re explicitly told to, and I think this makes people feel empowered.

5. Work satisfaction

I could just say that my colleagues enjoy an increased work satisfaction, but that’s a tad too generic, isn’t it? OK, for instance, within certain limits, you can choose which project you wish to work on, which is pretty cool. Another neat thing is that everybody is invited to acquire a second specialisation, which can help you work on more varied projects or grow professionally (we have functional analysts that started out as testers).

Another important thing about work satisfaction is that each colleague, regardless of her seniority, has a direct impact on the projects she’s working on. In fact, all members of a team share the responsibility of leading the project towards success.

Moreover, in our relationship with clients we act as a team of consultants — as opposed to an army of coders waiting for instructions — in which everybody’s invited to express their opinion.

6. Gossip

This is probably a result of the “features” I’ve presented above — it’s highly unlikely to have people gossiping when everybody is friendly, people are treated fairly, there aren’t pain in the ass bosses around and you feel appreciated.

7. Controversial discussions

Discussions on controversial matters are not cultivated at all and are actually deemed as pointless. Thus, you won’t see colleagues arguing about religion, abortion, raw vegan diets, gay rights, metal music, evolution, politics, bacon, and global warming… though I’m not sure why the latter is controversial, hehe. Anyway, no matter how interesting these topics are, they are better left outside of work. Trust me, I’ve seen what havoc they can bring to a working environment!

8. Focus on results

Basically, no one’s looking at the clock if you get late, although you might hear a biting joke from one of our testers every now and then (they notice things). Conversely, long hours are not considered “normal business”, but rather an exception, usually before a “demo”. In any case, your output, your results and growth are more important than the time you spend in the office, and that’s the way it should be.

9. Bonus: the personal touch

So these are some of the main ingredients that make up a great company culture. Are there more? Perhaps a “secret” one? Well, I think it’s the personal touch that made all this possible in the first place. The support team, including our CEO and managing partners, do a great job of instilling the values on which our company culture is built.

Final thoughts

Today, as our company is growing at a very fast rate, our biggest challenge is to preserve our organisational culture. What’s encouraging is that the way people behave around us is as contagious as a big yawn, so things work out naturally for us for the time being. By the way, you do feel the urge to yawn, don’t you? If not,  click  here.

This is not meant to be a “PR article” so much as an exercise of dissecting and explaining a phenomenon that, to me at least, feels so rare and valuable. Needless to say I enjoy my work here and the time I spend with my colleagues… It was a long year during which I met tons of challenges and learned a lot of things. I only hope everybody feels the same.

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