What was it like to work in a deep tech company without a People or HR department? Looking back I can say — more productive than I could have imagined.
I joined the Slovak crew of Cloud gurus after 2 months of traveling in South America (I still consider taking some time off the best thing one can do after finishing one job, before starting another).
Day before I left for Peru with a one-way ticket, I had my final interview with co-founders Jakub Jursa, Martin Dojčák & Adam Hamšík. They are all DevOps Engineers with already defined roles as COO, CTO & CEO. I could clearly see that they really strive for quality — both on the technical and business level. Nevertheless, LabLabs was just a 12-people-company at that time, and they wanted to find a person who will cover the People agenda so that they could focus on the stuff they excel in. Interview lasted 90 minutes instead of 40 and I was hooked on the opportunity of working with people who really know what they are doing.
Next day I flew away. After 3 weeks, a couple of other interviews and currently traveling somewhere around Machu Picchu, I received a call from Michal Fischer informing me that they want me! I didn’t have any doubts. I immediately accepted the offer and continued with my south-american travels.
All of a sudden it was April and jet-lagged but curious me came to almost a 100% male company — thanks Laura for being here, the only other girl along with Yuki, her dog. In the first week 10 out of 13 colleagues at that time got Covid (no, it wasn’t me who infected them, haha). At least it gave me space to get settled after my travels in the wilderness and get into the working mode again. We sent every colleague a basket of fruits to get better soon.
Very soon we were able to determine People department goals — establish and meet our hiring plans, help the employer branding awareness, reflect & enhance internal people’s satisfaction.
All of that while learning and getting deeper knowledge of the company’s core business — building stable cloud infrastructures mainly on Kubernetes (and also trying to understand the buzzwords like AWS, Docker, Terraform and cutting edge cloud native tools). I always love to discover new fields and broaden my scope. We as a team were able to set & achieve the following:
- cooperation with all departments in the company and support our internal people
- gaining trust from the management and bringing new ideas to reality
- setting up quarterly goals and their validation for People department
- establishing a complex & transparent hiring process with less than 5% success rate.
- hiring key engineers
- preparing a plan & budget for the next year
- creating referral policies and finding this source of candidates amazingly useful!
- creating onboarding of new people smooth and transparent
- creating a newbies manual full of useful material
- establishing a rule to invite & cover the costs of newbies (who primarily work remote) to come work with us for the first 2 weeks in our HQ office so they can experience the office culture
- offering a budget to choose the hardware of preference to our newbies
- cooperation with the Marketing department to build up our presence on social networks
- attending at conferences and supporting the reputation of our company tech-excellence
- giving support to our people to get out of their comfort zone: from behind the screen straight to the stage at meetups and conferences
- setting regular 1:1s with each member of the team
- organizing an amazing team building and Christmas Party
- cold water swimming, and also some hiking as a team!
- improving remote culture to enable the best work experience possible
- having a weekly all-staff meeting where we share departments’ updates and struggles
- sitting together (or “huddling”) so that everyone has the opportunity to ask anything and be at the source of information and decisions — enabling transparency
- establishing regular Barometers and reflecting on the results and suggestions
- our eNPS is on a regular basis > 70!
Learning and development:
- supporting the growth of our people with budgets for certifications
- continuing with knowledge sharing sessions
- planning to continue with regular 1:1s to set up everyone’s career growth and provide them feedback on how they are doing
What I am not mentioning is everything that’s happening in the background — there is a lot of operative agenda, daily struggles and a certain feeling of “I have no idea what I am doing, but I keep going!”.
Still, at the end of the day you either do something great or you learn something valuable. I am happy that I can work in a company where mistakes are not punished and where you can ask anyone for help. We are on the same boat and we love bringing customers added value with building hassle free cloud infrastructures. My clients are all my colleagues and possible future colleagues. I can’t wait for next year to come and see the new adventures with this cloudy & cool company.