Being part of Documaster for the past two years has been a great personal and professional experience for me. As CFO in Documaster I could write pages about the fantastic growth rates, exceptional SaaS metrics and future valuations of our company. However, today, I want to focus on the personal experiences. Experiences that have led me to believe that company culture is one of the key factors to success and one that was evident during our company gathering in Bulgaria this year.
From the months leading up to our company gathering there was sheer dedication, commitment and engagement from the people organizing the event. I can honestly say that I find it very inspiring and satisfying when people are genuinely concerned about achieving the best possible result and outcome. I am also humbled and grateful for their dedication. They choose to invest their time in something that is beside their primary work objective. They add cultural value which we benefit from as individuals, as a group of people across borders and as a company. Thank you again Georgi, Ina, Neli and Lena.
On the much-anticipated day of our company gathering I witnessed 80 eager and anticipating faces greeting each other and exchanging names. The level of smiles was high. The excitement could be felt. What was already apparent to me was confirmed. The importance of this event. Gathering all our employees under one ceiling. People who knew each other by name but not by face. People who work together across borders but hadn’t met. People who didn’t know each other. People who were new. People who hadn’t been with each other for a while.
Meeting people face to face is a necessity in my opinion. Human interaction will never replace the technological tools that we currently possess, and which are in abundance in our era. Because communication isn’t just words in verbal or written form or seeing someone through a computer screen. It can be more. Better communication is achieved by being present and showing feelings.
For a company in growth it is vital that everyone in the company feels or gets an acknowledgement that they are part of something greater. Their purpose so to speak. Don’t get me wrong, it is a fact that every single individual is truly a vital part of the company. However, this isn’t always acknowledged by the individuals themselves. This feeling or acknowledgment is obtained by being present. Present together with the people that are part of the same thing you are part of. Understanding what these people do and what is achieved as a result of the joint efforts put in by everyone. You don’t get that with a video call or gathering fragmented groups within in the company. You need them all. Together as a unit.
In my opinion that is the whole point of having a company gathering. Reminding every single individual that we are all dependent on each other. That everyone plays a vital role. Getting rid of the barriers that constrain us from communicating in a better way. How we should be moving in the same direction. Learning from each other by sharing knowledge and experiences. Truly becoming a transparent company. Where opinions and matters are heard and acted upon. I believe we are on a good path to achieve this. We have engaged and motivated people. By providing the right tools – such as our company gathering – we are paving the way for success.
So, how did we carry out our company gathering? What were our thoughts and ideas on how we would get the most out of being together for a couple of days? Well, what mattered to us was finding a healthy balance between the social and professional aspects of the gathering. We wanted to achieve information sharing and get people engaged as well as having enough time for social interactions – both being equally important for our overall health and prosperity.
The whole event took place at a spa resort in Hisarya in Bulgaria, with all the necessary facilities- such as an auditorium big enough for all 80 people. The resort had several swimming pools, a tennis court and a football field that would be utilized for the planned activities during our stay.
Our first day was spent on teambuilding activities. Several people from different disciplines in the company were given the task as presenters. All in all, we had seven different disciplines represented by two presenters in each discipline sharing what they did, how they did it and the current challenges they faced. The remainder employees were divided into groups. Each discipline would have 10 minutes for presentations and 10 minutes would be spent on questions and idea sharing from the people listening. Then all the listening groups would move on to the next discipline, according to a carefully orchestrated agenda.
This was a huge success. The level of engagement was admirable and the learning curve high for most employees. “I finally understand what the salespeople do” was one of the comments made after the session. On a personal level, I got a better understanding of the everyday struggles and achievements the people in our organization have, which in turn has broadened my understanding on how we are all connected. I believe this feeling was mutual for many others in our company as well.
Our second day was dedicated to social activities. We had planned a football match between Norway and Bulgaria, some people played several rounds of tennis and others spent their time in one of the many swimming pools. We had planned excursions. Either a wine tasting experience to Chateau Copsa or a historic trip to Plovdiv with our CTO as the tour guide- who in addition to being our CTO is also a history expert and originally from Plovdiv. If you didn’t feel like either of these options, you could spend your time at the resort. In any case, we would meet up in Plovdiv for dinner where we would all be gathered again. In this way you spent time doing the thing that interested you the most and it also led to interesting conversations during dinner.
Gathering all our employees together in this way creates great value for our company in my opinion. We get to interact with each other on a whole new level, both professionally and socially. Interactions which are not restricted by our daily timeframes and responsibilities. As individuals and as part of one company, we need good relations and understanding on how we move forward. How we move forward together.
I must admit that I was moved by the gesture our CEO and CTO carried out during the last day of our company gathering. Every single person in the company received the traditional “you nailed it” award – previously only reserved for employees who had achieved something extraordinary. This only acknowledged the fact that everyone matters. That every single person in Documaster is part of making this software company a recognizable force.
Only together will we be able to make this a healthy working environment and achieve greatness.
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