In a recent article, we’ve covered the 9 most important characteristics of a modern workplace to look out for when job hunting. We’ve talked about fairness, flexibility and character, among other crucial factors - and we’ve mentioned motivation, though only briefly. In this interview, Wiktor Schmidt, Netguru’s CEO, shares his insights on building a truly engaging work environment and boosting employee motivation through simple (but not necessarily easy!) means. It’s time to shed some light on the thinking and decision-making behind Netguru’s culture, and on creating a company in which every employee can grow professionally and feel content.
1. How to create a motivating workplace?
Wiktor Schmidt: The first and most important thing is to treat everybody like a partner. This is what we are, after all - equals striving towards a common goal. Every employee should be treated fairly and feel that their personal needs are important. The company is nothing without the people.
We all have room to grow here. Everyone has the chance to establish short- and long-term goals for themselves with the help of their leader, and work towards a career path they want to take. We’re also very happy to help employees gain new skills and develop existing ones.
Finally, work has to feel like work: it can’t be too easy. Leave people without a challenge and they will get stuck in place. But give them the opportunity to achieve something amazing as members of a team and they will grow, learn new things, gain experience. Motivation and hardship go hand in hand.
2. What rules should be established and applied to motivate employees?
WS: Simple ones: trust, support, common goals and leading by example.
Trust is obvious: you don’t want to micromanage your people and you don’t want to withhold information from them. Transparency is key, as well as freedom to work well. Remote work and flexible hours can help a great deal.
It’s also important to build a culture in which people support each other - through feedback, helping with the more difficult task, finding time to answer questions. And it’s not a one way street - leaders should receive constructive feedback, too. This way, both sides can make the effort to work better together.
A common goal is something every company needs. At the level of a startup, you have the vision of the founders that drives them all forward and motivates them. Once a company achieves success, it has to set ambitious goals for itself to keep the momentum. Every employee should feel like they are contributing to something ambitious and important.
Finally, and this is a piece of advice for leaders in particular, leading by example brings amazingly good results. An absentee boss motivates no one. You have to be there, be active, talk to your team and put real effort into pushing the whole company to grow.
3. What challenges will we encounter as we work to achieve an even better approach? Why do we need to fill the position of Head of People now?
WS: We’re facing quite a few challenges. Certain things require focus at the scale we’ve achieved - we can no longer make do through collective effort. We need a person who will be able to take responsibility for our HR department to help them implement a better recruitment policy as well as motivate and coach the team as needed. One of the bigger challenges in a growing company is working with executives. We need someone who will support our leaders in what they do for their teams by sharing knowledge with them and working on effective processes together.
We have a lot of ambition as a company, and not just for our HR department. We’re growing fast - we’ve been listed among the fastest growing companies in Eastern Europe by Deloitte and we’ve caught the attention of Forbes as well. We want to be the largest software company in Poland, helping clients from all over the world. We know that our business depends on the people we hire, so it’s obvious to us that we need a thought leader who will be able to focus all of their time and effort to help our employees reach their full potential.
At Netguru, we owe our success in a large part to the fact that we know our business is based on people. In the IT services industry, a good team makes all the difference and you can’t grow your company without focusing on this crucial aspect. This is why we’re putting even more effort into building the right atmosphere for our employees and creating the perfect workplace for them. We believe it’s a worthwhile investment. Take a look at our careers page if you're interested.