“A happy employee is a productive employee”. You may say it’s a truism, and you’ll most likely be right. But it’s a truism for a reason. At TISA Group we have embraced this key value by establishing the role of a People & Culture Manager. The first effects came not long after in the form of our latest general group meeting.
Why We Decided That It’s the Right Time for a Group Meeting
We like to imagine ourselves sailing a ship. To emphasise the metaphor, let’s say it’s an old-fashioned, viking-esque vessel. You know, one of those that require simultaneous and coordinated rowing to move. What differs us from 10th-century barbarians is (well, a lot of things really) that we focus on our “rowing” to have a deeper meaning. We don’t want to just move forward. We aim to create a common goal.
Therefore, our general group meeting had two key qualities to embrace. Firstly, it intended to supply the employees with a common context. It is vital for everyone to realise that they’re sailing together in the aforementioned boat. The scale of the company’s growth has exceeded expectations. We are looking at over 100% more personnel compared to last year. We have employees in 13 places on the world map, from our main HQ in Wrocław to as far as Siberia.
The meeting’s second implicit goal completed the context. An intellectual connection was built — it was made sure that not only the rowing was coordinated, but that every employee is aware of the boat’s destination. Information that often travelled via the grapevine was clearly laid out and universalised.
Apart from that, a social purpose was served. On an everyday basis, we work mostly remotely (even though we’ve got a beautiful new office!), strongly relying on trust towards one another. But when several people know each other only from video calls and Slack exchanges, sometimes it’s hard to build essential reliance.
As it was strongly emphasised, the meeting was undertaken for the employees. Their everyday work focuses on designing engagement for our clients. This time they were the recipients.
How Did It Go? What Was the Point?
We’ll spare you a blow-by-blow, the major reason being sensitive information (and your precious time!). What we can say is that both the meet-and-greets and the networking part had an excellent outcome.
“I had my doubts, I was especially afraid that it could be slightly awkward. About 30 per cent of all our co-workers hadn’t met personally before [mostly due to COVID-related issues], so I prepared some icebreakers to help the conversations flow. All that proved to be completely unnecessary”Amanda Łażewska, People & Culture Manager at TISA Group
Not longer than a few minutes after the official part, the organisers received plenty of positive feedback. Co-workers got much closer to each other, what — as we’re currently observing — is having a positive impact on their cooperation. Apart from a team-bonding value, the meeting served a great informative purpose. Despite all the dynamic changes, we’re all sailing the same ship.
Good Practices and Recommendations
If we inspired you to set up a meeting yourself, let us provide some tips based on our own experience. Two heads are better than one.
#1 Start as soon as possible
You’ve got a rather big event on your hands. However much time you think planning and preparing may take — it’s always good to give yourself an extra week or two. The stress of dealing with important tasks at the last minute is not worth your hair going grey.
#2 Assemble a team
Safe to say that organising a large event is a backbreaker, let alone for one person. Dodge the bullets straight away and find yourself a crew. You’ll be surprised how invested some people can be. More often than not, those will be the ones you least suspect!
Also, don’t forget to delegate tasks. The sooner the better, so your colleagues can organise their schedules.
#3 Set strict deadlines
Deadlines, albeit menacing, are your best friend in event management. It’s good to have a handy tool for this purpose (we use Notion’s backlogs), to have all key information set out clearly. Take possible delays into account, but remember that every slip could be crucial in the long run. It’s like an avalanche. You don’t like avalanches.
“It’s exactly like work on every other project. Whatever’s bound to screw up, will most likely screw up. And ten other things will follow. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared”Amanda Łażewska, People & Culture Manager at TISA Group
#4 Estimate a budget
You’re (most likely) not paying for the event yourself. The budget is necessary to move forward with anything else. You can take two strategies:
- Find out how much money can be spent. That will give you a strong operating scope for your project.
- Prepare a budget plan for review. Be proactive, do some research, benchmark. Having specific figures often proves to be a more effective approach.
Above all, what’s more important than a large invoice is your creativity. Use your own resources. For example, our meeting took place in our everyday work office. We placed a beer tap directly between our desks — how cool is that?
#5 Form a sensible but engaging scenario
Certain things just need to be said. If there’s more information, simply try to open the event a tad earlier. Substance over flash, always.
When planning out our meeting scenario, we attempted to convey our work principles to the presentation. The company’s leaders all had a role to fulfil, according to a pre-planned and carefully formed narrative.
Organisational Culture — Your Company’s “Human Face”
“Workplace culture” is of those new fancy words the industry has come up with. That is part of the reason why we’ll spare you the definition. But the major rationale is that we believe work culture is a very subjective construct. Ours is strongly based on cooperation and building a sense of a common goal. We avoid setting up hierarchies. We endorse human-centred qualities. We are a team.
It’s key to realise that organisational culture is ever-present, regardless of workplace. It just needs to be carefully nurtured. Both ar HeroDOT and TISA we are proud of our constant and vigorous development. Both as an organisation and as a collective of people. That’s why we’re not afraid to make difficult and risky, but profit-bound decisions. An example being the deployment of a People & Culture Manager.
That’s right, a People & Culture Manager. Amanda, who now signs her e-mails with this brand new term, has been one of us for years. That’s the primary reason she was the perfect match. After all, she has been taking care of similar duties before. She works with a permanent smile, is fluent in all languages of interpersonal communication and develops relationships in a heartbeat. This year, taking the company’s rapid growth into account, Amanda’s responsibilities formed a full-time job.
Disclaimer: Experience is a valuable asset for a People & Culture Manager, but far from decisive. And certainly not more than affective capabilities, such as empathy. Overall, human-managing and social skills should be equally (if not more) important in the consideration process. This person’s main work scope will be supervising and cultivating human interaction, so it’s key for them to understand people. Simple as that.
Some of Amanda’s responsibilities at TISA Group:
- Carrying out team core values. Or, as she prefers to say, “strengths”. She takes care of working out common qualities that the entire company can relate to. Both in and outside of work.
- Facilitating internal communication. Amanda is right about to implement an internal blog that serves an informative purpose, but also forms a spontaneous publishing platform for all to use.
Apart from that, she focuses on everyday communication manners. Video calls or Slack exchanges — there’s always room for improvement. Fluent communication is fundamental.
- Organising information and exclusive data. The company is getting bigger by the second, and sometimes it’s difficult to keep up-to-date with all the new solutions. Amanda makes sure everyone has access to both data and instructions on how to use it.
- And plenty more. Her duties vary from organising aforementioned events or introducing new employees up to coordinating employer branding strategy and promoting the company’s mission. All in one.
You may have your doubts about the importance of workplace culture. That’s perfectly normal. We recommend taking a minute to get familiar with a few research cases on the matter. Disengagement or lack of loyalty may prove to be some of your minor problems, considering that a cut-throat hierarchical environment can lead even to serious health impairment.
“Social capital is immensely important, even though it might seem insignificant and slightly questionable. Thankfully, our company has embraced its value. I do both formal (spreadsheets, documents and mailing) and concept work. Most importantly, all I do is consulted with others, as my work intends to make theirs easier and more enjoyable”.Amanda Łażewska, People & Culture Manager at TISA Group
Remember you don’t necessarily have to revolutionise your entire work structure. We’re fully aware that not every budget plan foresees an additional position in the payroll. Even we had our doubts. It’s difficult to single out the moment you’re big enough as a company to go forward with such a move.
You do have a cultural base to work on, that we guarantee. Look around. Pinpoint which elements need improvement, but embrace those that already thrive. No qualities are universal, they’re yours (and your co-workers’!) to set. Just grab your paddle and start rowing!