As part of the series about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, our business development executive Anna Khachatrian was interviewed by Authority Magazine.
She shared some insights about CodeRiders' work culture and how it impacts on the quality of our software development and outsourcing services.
Anna is the Business Development Executive at CodeRiders software development company. She is a digital marketing expert with 8 years of experience in business development, partnerships, client communications, and lead generation. Anna works in a team, which values people and work culture beyond everything.
- Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
- When I entered the IT world, I knew very little about it. I just knew that this industry is developing day by day, bringing innovations and new concepts to life. I was thrilled to be part of that world and have my investment, even if it was a small one. I started as an Administrative assistant at one of the IT outsourcing companies in Armenia. After 2–3 months, I realized that digital marketing is what interests me most in this field, and I started learning this new profession all by myself. Gradually, I started dealing with marketing tasks in a small company with no marketing or sales team. I was the only specialist who later on formed a team and led the team, becoming the Head of the marketing department. After a few years, I ended up at CodeRiders, where I have already been working for almost 5 years. In this company, I do business development, partnership management, and client communication part.
- Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you
began leading your company?
- I remember one story connected with one of our social media posts. We were looking for new people and created an illustration image for our social media. Our designer pictured two shaking hands as a sign of partnership, along with some text saying “We are looking for X specialists”. We posted this image through our social channels, and everything was going well until one of our followers noticed that the two hands illustrate male hands, not female hands, assuming that we encourage discrimination in our company. She was so irritated and sure about her statement that she even sent us some government laws and articles, insisting we did it on purpose. We were all surprised to receive such an extremist comment. Honestly, while creating that illustration, neither I nor the designer thought that we were specifically illustrating male hands. We didn’t have the intention of encouraging only male applicants. Besides, it is too subjective to consider illustrated hands as male or female. According to her statement, if one of the hands does not have manicured nails, it is believed to be a male hand. But who said that every woman has manicured nails? Who said that animated hands could have specific male or specific female features and not just be neutral? Even the most famous hand emojis cannot be detected as male or female. We long debated with our followers and happily understood each other. We remember this till now, and while making new illustrations, we always approach it from all perspectives to be sure the meaning cannot be reversed in any way.
- Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
- We have a few currently active projects, and I can’t single out one. All of them are exciting for us as they help people in different spheres, like:
· Communication and socializing through a new social media platform
· Digital platform for buying and selling NFTs (NFT marketplaces)
· CRM for media companies
· Wealth management platform for transfers, withdrawals, deposits, etc.
· Sports club management for managing dance studios, sports teams, yoga studios, martial arts clubs, and fitness centers.
As you can see, each of these projects is for a specific industry, helping professionals in that field efficiently do their everyday tasks. We always keep saying at CodeRiders that we help automate manual work and save time. This is the mission that encourages and motivates us to do what we do now.
- Ok, let’s jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?
- The numbers we see in the study are, indeed, sad. There can be many reasons employees feel unhappy at work. One of the reasons is stated in that study, which says, “People don’t leave companies. They leave bosses”. I very much believe that most workplace issues come from management, demotivation, no inspiration, or lack of appreciation. Being a manager is not an easy task, as it may seem from a distance. Many people think that it’s a cool position; you have others who help you with smaller tasks, and all you need to do is check their work. However, the function of the managers or leads is first about:
· inspiring the team,
· appreciating the good work,
· providing management trainings,
· and giving recognition.
Lack of such basic needs may lead to de-motivation and an increase in job resignations.
- Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?
- Not exaggerating at all, employee satisfaction is a priority for us all at CodeRiders. We build our teams with this in mind. Team spirit is one of our values. We believe team spirit is the root of professional services. A team that shares the same values and vision finds a better way of collaborating. We are skilled, well-organized, creative, and dedicated to the company’s success. We always mention that our team spirit is the key to developing high-quality products. Our experience at CodeRiders proves that in a team with no tension between the employees, the employee satisfaction rate is high, the teamwork is valued, the employees are appreciated, and everyone is working more productively and effectively, resulting in high company profitability.
- Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?
- Sure, we have some principles regarding our company culture, and we believe following them is the key to our team’s success. They are as follows:
1. Reduce the hierarchy to a minimum. We have mixed up several organizational approaches with our custom structure to build the ideal one for our philosophy. Our organizational structure and philosophy are closer to a flatarchy organizational structure. We reduced the hierarchy and have only 2 leaders now: one for the technical team and the other for the business development team. The more complicated and hierarchical structure you have, the longer your communication and software development processes will be. The employees will spend much of their time on organizational issues rather than their main work.
2. Offer flexible terms of work. The post-COVID employment market has its needs and requirements, which we cannot neglect. During the lockdown, many employees used to work remotely, alone, or at the best time when they were productive. Even if the lockdown is no longer a thing, the employment market has changed vastly. To keep the team members happy with their current work and schedule, offering flexibility is quite helpful. We at CodeRiders have a flexible approach within our team. Our people can choose to work remotely or in the office. However, meeting in the office at least once a week is a must for all employees. This way, we keep up the good relationship and physical communication that we have within our team.
3. Build an atmosphere where everyone is appreciated and recognized. No one wants to work for a company where their work is not appreciated. Even though they know they have done great, everyone wants to hear recognition directly from the leaders. Sometimes, it’s not only about words but also bonuses, gifts, or other benefits. We at CodeRiders have different ways to appraise our employees. We give them bonuses from time to time, raise their salaries, and organize team-building thank-you parties where we talk about our success stories, which we couldn’t reach without our dedicated team members.
4. Quick solutions to even smaller issues. Team leaders and managers should be great communicators. They should be aware of each small and big problem their team may experience. None of the issues or help requests should remain unanswered, as even the smaller ones may cause delays and further huge problems during the work. Providing the employees with necessary information as soon as possible is one of the main characteristics of a great team leader that keeps and encourages teamwork.
5. Create friendly relationships among the team even after work. We believe that a friendly and close relationship between team members is key to a great company culture. Unlike other cultures where employees are not encouraged to have other relationships besides the working one, we at CodeRiders consider our teammates, not just colleagues but friends. Even if we do not meet at the office (as part of the team works remotely), we make sure to spend some quality time together after working hours. This type of bond within our team helps us to work more effectively and productively, as we know each other very well and can organize the work most efficiently. Besides, the warm atmosphere in the company helps the new employees settle into the team more quickly and easily.
- It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?
- I am a representative of an Armenian workforce. However, I believe this issue is not only about the US market; it exists globally. It is much more difficult to deal with company culture issues in large companies or enterprises, as it is not an easy task to organize an all-in-one type of culture and control it for a large number of employees. However, in small and medium companies, this issue can be easily solved without hectic changes. To think broadly, not only companies should create the best-suited cultures for their employees. Employees should also change their mindset about the leadership and management approach. Sometimes employees expect more from the management than they actually can help with, or have exaggerated expectations about the attitude they should receive as an employee. The key to the global workforce culture is the balance between the employees’ expectations and the management’s capabilities. The more communication there is between these two sides, the fewer the problems and misunderstandings.
- How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?
- As already mentioned, we have a flatarchy organizational structure at CodeRiders. This means our employees do not have several layers and hierarchies to reach management. If they have a question or issue, they speak with the management directly, without any third parties or mediators. So the management knows about any cultural issues or works problems directly from the team members. This way, we keep it all simple, quick, and efficient.
- None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
- Of course, success is not about only the hard work of one person. It is made up of various factors, including the people we met at different points in our lives. There are numerous people for whom I would be grateful for bringing me to the path I am on now. However, there is no specific person whose name I would like to mention among the others. When I say numerous people, I mean my professors who gave me the knowledge base, my colleagues who gave me a helping hand every time I needed them, my family and friends who supported my ideas and felt proud of even my smallest success stories, people who criticized me, and every other person out there who taught me anything related to work, communication, personality types, and teamwork.
- How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
- I like to say that if everyone did their job in the best possible way, today we would have a better world, well-organized societies, an improved lifestyle, and a peaceful mind. I believe that doing my work the best way I can is the number one thing I am supposed to do. People around me know one thing about me for sure. I can get so irritated by people who find ways to manipulate and escape the work they are responsible for. I consider I bring goodness to the world by approaching my work professionally, doing my tasks with respect towards both my company and the team I am working with, setting realistic deadlines, completing the work on time, initiating new ideas, and realizing them as much as I can.
- Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
- As a continuation of my previous thought, I believe that to succeed you need to “Give the world what you’d like to be given”. The way this world looks depends on each of us, and if we want to see it differently, we should build it the way we like. We may all know people who like to complain about everything. I learned that instead, I could do my job with the best possible version, creating my environment and my world around that best version.
- You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
- I believe the future is in the tech industry. In my opinion, technical education should be part of school programs. There may be some high schools that are technical-oriented and offer several of these kinds of classes; however, globally, technical education is something students usually get at universities. Some students miss the chance of getting a technical education as they simply don’t understand what it means in simple words. I would inspire a movement to have the accessibility of technical education in schools. This way, we will help our societies and the next generation be prepared for future innovations, starting from the school years. They will get involved in new technology explorations and experience some technologies by themselves, and if they interest them, they will easily choose their profession starting from their school years.
Interview source: Authority Magazine
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