From Software Engineer to VP of Engineering: Leadership in Action at Cheesecake Labs
Caroline Schmitz | Aug 17, 2022
During these past years, many startups popped up with this different and super cool work environment. It is completely new and seems adventurous, but worked nicely for most of them. Since we are this new kind of technology company, I thought it would be nice to talk about our own experience.
I’ve been working as Wellness at Cheesecake Labs for about 18 months now. During this time, I can affirm that there are a few processes that help keeping the workplace cool and disruptive. As I always say, it is all about the people. Of course, ping-pong and video games help to create an attractive physical area, but can it do all the job? I don’t think so.
Having the company’s identity represented in a clear and genuine way is a must. All the employees have the right to be aware of the company’s culture and it is the DHO’s (Human and Organizational Development) job to make it reach them. So, before worrying about cultural fit, it is nice to make sure of what you are talking about.
While hiring new people, new tech companies tend to sell an idea based on its physical structure and attractive benefits. I’m not saying that this can’t be part of the culture: it can and should. In fact, the workspace must represent the company’s purpose. E.g.: a pool table in the office says that you have freedom because you are trusted with your responsibility. No one will supervise you and you won’t play instead of working when having a close deadline. It’s simple: if you don’t know how to deal with this kind of freedom, you’re not suitable to work in an environment like this.
Everything related to culture usually has a natural flow. It starts from owners and leaders – either in a professional or a personal way. They are responsible for applying it as a strategy to engage their teams and make a great place to be. But don’t fool yourself! Strong and great cultures are thought and created through real beliefs and purposes, after all, if it is not legit, people just don’t stick to it. Equally important is to be alert to the things that are not said in the culture: they reinforce values and actions beyond the company’s strategy and increase trust among the people.
Seems much more than only cool workspaces now, right?
The culture of feedback can’t be restricted among teams. A horizontal company is about talking to each other no matter which your position is. As a leader, you also should encourage your employees to feel free to talk to you. Working with people that are afraid of saying to you what’s going on because of what you may say or think about them creates an unnecessary distance.
Respect is also a concept that deserves more attention than it has. To keep this nice and open environment, people must learn to be more empathic. It is simple to put yourself in other’s shoes, but it is not easy to make it part of your routine no matter the situation or your mood is. Constant feedbacks and reminders from mentors usually do the job. After a while, it starts to be natural and part of the team’s daily interaction.
You may have heard this before, but people working with the same purpose have way more chances to do it in a productive and harmonic way. As you might be thinking, having this kind of people with you starts on the hiring step. However, a collaborative team requires constant follow-ups, feedbacks and team building activities.
In the end of the day, all we want is people that are actually working for the company: from the CEO to the new intern. Goals and KPIs should always be clear, as the tasks each one has to make it happen. There’s nothing like feeling useful and see that we actually contributed to the end result.
Executive Assistant and Wellness passionate about social media (specially Instagram). Always feels like traveling, drinking good wine and hugging cute puppies.