Our big vision for this year was ‘Rhys plus one’. We did a little more...
You remember Rhys... He joined us for his placement year in 2017 and we knew we couldn’t let him go. So he returned for his final year at university very much still part of our team, with a job to come back to after he graduated… and we couldn’t wait to get him back!
We knew our company was going to grow this year; with new work, and new clients, there wasn’t the capacity to stay where we were in terms of team numbers. As I said, the plan was to get Rhys back and hire one more person.
That was based on our anticipated new work. But things don’t always go to plan and we were in a very fortunate position to be oversubscribed. We’ve been there before but this time, we made the big decision to take on new staff instead of turn work away.
As part of our ethos and the company we want to be, we are always on the lookout for people that fit with our culture and work ethic. So when we announced we were looking for new additions to our team, we already had a pool of talented developers and designers to invite to apply. Enter Jonny and Elle.
Working with new clients highlighted areas in which we could be stronger. And having more people to work on these client’s projects required our processes to grow. With all these things came the necessity to be more regimented with organisation and planning. Suddenly the multi-tasking, job sharing culture we’d intentionally nurtured would put too much strain on the capacity of existing team members. So we reviewed our project process and are experimenting with different ‘leads’ for traditional scrum roles such as Product Owner and Scrum Master.
With new people, comes a space for everyone to grow and evolve into roles that showcase their natural strengths. It isn’t just about onboarding new team members; we very quickly realised that you have to pay careful attention and energy to the ‘original’ team. There is a role to play in supporting a team through transition and changing dynamics to ensure everyone feels valued, secure and informed. Not everyone thrives on change.
When a team grows in size you have to focus on who you are as a company. The old building a house analogy springs to mind, you need stable foundations before you start to add on that fancy loft conversion. We are super careful with our onboarding as we’re mindful that our company is built on individuals; collective and individual beliefs, strength and weaknesses. In a small team, you really notice these things as more people become part of the culture.
The last few months have been about growing together as a company; helping new starters to find their feet and the rest of us adapting to new people and processes, our own new role as part of the jigsaw, our preferences in the working environment and how our quirks impact the team. As well as less space to eat our breakfast around the kitchen table on a Monday!
One of our favourite books lately is Bruce Daisley, The Joy of Work: The No.1 Sunday Times Business Bestseller – 30 Ways to Fix Your Work Culture and Fall in Love with Your Job Again. Daisley talks a lot about sync; how teams that are in sync and laugh together feel more comfortable to share on a professional level. This translates to the ability to gracefully give and receive constructive criticism, and respectfully push for the continuing improvements which make Brightec tick.
It was, and is, important that all members of our team know they have a value to add, and feel comfortable to speak out. We want to show new starters the set of core company beliefs and brand values the team developed over the last couple of years in a way that encourages them to adopt this mission as their own.
On a weekly basis, we’re highlighting one of our company values, using a brief presentation to explain its origin and discuss why it is important to our business. These include being confidently humble, progressively driven, considerately passionate and lovers of life. We believe this helps give staff a sense of communal enterprise - and a shared vision. It's also a useful tool for bonding, by sharing the stories which initially prompted us to realise that specific value.
We scheduled our team summer outing carefully this year, waiting a little later than usual so that all of our new team could be there. Space away from the office, importantly on a mutually new territory, was a key consideration to build relationships, feel inspired, be outside (where our team naturally feel happiest) and of course, eat...we’ve not changed that much, food is still the way to our hearts!
In the same way that a Jira ticket needs a description/user acceptance criteria but can’t cover the wealth and depth of what is wholly required or involved, a new job isn’t as clear as the job description. We’ve learnt that communication becomes even more important when your team expands.
Every member of the team seeks clarification and guidance when a company structure shifts in any way. We all became heightened to expectations of our responsibilities; from setting good examples to new starters and helping them to understand how Brightec work to sustaining the usual level of productivity and harmony in the office.
Its been important for us to keep recognising good work amongst all the team members during these times of change. You can think you’ve done a great job, but if someone was expecting something entirely different it all falls flat. Regular reassurance and acknowledgement for the roles we are playing keeps us all engaged and wanting to continue to do great work, whether we’ve been here 2 months or 2 years.
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