2023 in review: Lessons Our Small Agency learned this year

The Brightec Team wearing Christmas Jumpers

Brightec firmly believes it is possible to experience joy in work and through work. In this blog, we take our eyes off the mince pies for a few minutes to look back at our highlights of 2023.

Having ‘Freedom to Create’ (space to learn, grow, explore and develop) is super important to our team. Most notably we’ve traditionally supported this through R&D days but this year we’ve delved a little deeper into how to encourage our team’s growth and ensure there is space for them to do so.

Back in May, we escaped to a big country house nestled amongst woodland to look at the Clifton strengths of each individual within the team and how these contribute to the success of our business. We invited an external coach in for the day to lead training and group discussions for how (or if we want) to implement CliftonStrengths® across our workstreams further. It was a real bonding exercise that enabled each team member to see, hear and understand the value they contribute to the success of our team.

Photos of lunch and during team actitivities at the away day

At the start of this year, we welcomed Ben, our brilliant Junior Product Manager and our incredible new designer, Annie, to the team. We’re super happy to announce that Simon will be joining the team as a permanent team member managing Marketing and Business Development - which is great news for the business and less great for the camera-shy members of the team.

A photo montage of Ben, Annie and Simon

We’re also excited to announce a new team member in January 2024, welcoming Bianca to fulfil the role of Delivery Manager.

Foster a supportive environment in which everyone can grow

“When a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” Alexander Den Heijer

During a company Retrospective within R&D early in 2023 one of the team stuck up a post-it on the wall; ‘create a more structured path to junior/middle/senior development’. Our head of Engineering, Rob, took this post-it (a validation of something he’d already been thinking about) and ran with it full steam ahead.

Our Engineering team expanded by 13 people within 5 years, and with this growth came a need for clarity and transparency around career development within that department. Every team member has a mentor to support their professional development but we wanted to make sure there was no ceiling on how much our team could grow.

Although smaller (in numbers at least), the same applies to our Design team.

We needed:

  • A clear space for everyone to grow (and beyond ‘Senior’ level)

  • Clarity around what growth looks like at each stage

  • Everyone to feel valued

Roles and potential roles within departments were identified, spanning from our entry-level Trainee to Principal level. Each role includes specifications around expectations of each level, thus creating a clear framework for progression. One of the most interesting elements of this framework is the articulation of Anti-Patterns; what behaviours or attitudes might hold someone back. Click here to read more about the Engineering Career Framework at Brightec.

We’re especially proud of Rhys who was promoted to Senior Engineer and Mo who was promoted from Trainee to Junior Engineer this year.

A photo montage of Mo, Rob and Rhys

Encouraging Collective Responsibility benefits everyone on the team

Having founded Brightec 17 years ago, Andy identified a need to take a break from the responsibilities and duties of his position. Before his leave, steps were taken to empower the Leadership Team to carry new responsibilities in his absence; a huge act of trust from both sides!

A strategic phased return was agreed upon to maintain the positive momentum and ensure everyone, including Andy, felt valued, respected, and trusted. Now three months into his return, Andy commented; "I returned to a company going from strength to strength, with a team growing in stature and maturity. Now, as we enter an exciting period of opportunity, I feel more equipped than ever to help shape that process.”

3 photos of Brightec's Founder, Andy

Click here to read Andy’s thoughts on how to enable CEO’s, founders and leaders to take an extended break.

You can be confidently humble and celebrate your success

In May, Brightec was named one of the top 100 Inspiring Companies in the world. It took a while for that to sink in! Our small team of 20 people in Shoreham serves Global brands like Waterstones and Virgin and that’s pretty incredible.

We’ve been settled in our ‘new’ studio by the sea for 18 months now and some of you will remember the intentions behind creating this space for our team, and clients, to work from. We were delighted to be named Best Working Environment (Silver) at the UK Company Culture Awards as a recognition of the thought and work that went into this.

We’ve loved hosting many client teams at our studio this year. It’s always a joy to work together in person; the gentle buzz of collaborative work and slightly too much coffee with an (un)healthy side of pastries... Occasionally even the odd dazzle of sparkly gold waistcoat for lunchtime quizzes! It’s also been an honour to join some of our clients at awards ceremonies to see them collect awards for their outstanding work. Most recently Virgin Trains Ticketing was named App of the Year at the UK eCommerce Awards. Click here to read about the VTT app.

One last little toot of our own trumpet, we were shortlisted for Employee of the Year, Business of the Year (Medium) and Creative Industries at the Sussex Business Awards. Being named amongst incredible companies doing incredible work across Sussex was an honour.

Photos of the Brightec team and clients receiving awards

Our culture is always a work in progress

At the end of 2022, we presented an updated set of values to the team. It was the next iteration in us getting better at articulating our DNA and refining how we talk about ourselves. That process was great and healthy, but it didn’t stop there.

This year, Josh has spent time creating a cultural framework that articulates the principles behind how we build our culture to help other businesses and organisations. It's an aid to support a wide-ranging discussion and share how we build a culture in a way that can be applied to other organisations. Click here to find out more about the Brightec Company Values.

A photo of the Brightec team at their Strength Finders Team Day

The importance of vision

Josh recently compared business to farming, comparing the seasons of Spring (beginnings), Summer (tending to roots), Autumn (harvesting the results of hard work) and Winter (preparation for new beginnings). We’re not sure what season we fall into but it’s an exciting time of growth and change, all supported with stable foundations for our vision for 2024 and beyond.

Our vision to Expand our Influence spans across four areas:

  • Relationships: We look forward to nurturing our existing relationships.

  • Bench depth: We’re excited to see our team flourish alongside the guidance provided by our new Engineer and Design Career Frameworks and welcome new team members across a spectrum of experience.

  • For good - outside of Brightec: We can’t wait to explore our impact beyond Brightec. Many of our team do this in their own way, but we want to support local, and broader charity initiatives as an employer.

  • Exploring our future: We’re proud of what Brightec has become and don’t want that to be the ceiling, we’re feeling inspired to have our eyes on new opportunities that support what Brightec already is.

With our vision articulated, we feel set to ensure that Brightec stays a great place to work for and with. We’ll return from our Christmas break on Wednesday 3rd January, full of mince pies and ready for the joys of the work we hope to create in 2024.

The Brightec Design Team discuss vision for 2024 and beyond

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