Without executives: we create a company with a pleasant atmosphere
Photo: “VISMA Lietuva”.
Having celebrated its sixth birthday in Kaunas, VISMA Lietuva, with fifty employees in this city, this autumn has moved to the new modern premises at Kauno dokas business center. All the employees contributed to equipping the premises – the company uses the no-management principle and culture, which means there are no executives and the employees are allowed to make their own decisions – from the color of the walls of the new office to the leisure, training or incentive system. We are talking to Sandra Rutkauskaitė, head of corporate communications, about a special no-management system that has been used by VISMA Lietuva for five years now.
Programmer and IT engineer company VISMA Lietuva is part of the global VISMA group. The company has been operating in Lithuania – Kaunas, and Vilnius – for 8 years and today has about 380 employees developing various systems for clients most of whom are located in Scandinavia, Northern Europe. “In Lithuania we work on about 50 very diverse projects, usually with international teams. In our company, Vilnius and Kaunas divisions are not two separate units, but the same company – with the same traditions, the same culture and working on the same projects – only operating in two cities. Six years ago we made the decision to expand to Kaunas, seeing the growing supply of highly qualified specialists in this city and having outgrown our old premises on Vytautas Avenue, we have now moved to a much more spacious and modern office at Kauno dokas business center which contains enough space for future development,” S. Rutkauskaitė says. And really, dozens of job offers are constantly displayed on the VISMA Lietuva website. According to S. Rutkauskaitė, the goal of the company is to grow the number of people, and the need for Lithuanian specialists is huge and they are highly valued for their competences and abilities. Currently, there is a lack of .NET, JAVA, PHP, user interface, test engineers and mobile application programmers; BI, DevOps/Solution, PHP technology specialists are sought after in Kaunas.
“We make all decisions ourselves”
The company is dominated by senior-level professionals, but we have internships after which some of the most talented students get to join the VISMA team. One of the greatest distinguishing features that allow attracting experienced, middle and senior-level professionals and retaining the existing employees as well as nurturing their relationship with the company, is the unique no-management system that has been in place for five years.
“We have no executives as they are commonly understood. The people who coordinate teams are not managers but mentors (coaches), whose purpose is to help the person feel good and to do their job well. All work of the company is managed through committees: there are 9 of them in total, each with its own area of responsibility and a budget. Committees are staffed by the same IT people who devote part of their time to committee work, says the communications manager, highlighting the key benefit of such a system – this means that we make all decisions ourselves – employees always have the last word. We believe that by transferring responsibilities to people, they will create the most favorable workspace and the company will be successful. The tasks are allocated to people who wish to carry them out, which is a great incentive to take responsibility. Together, we decide everything: what food we will eat, where we will go on vacation, how we will spend our leisure time, what our workplace will look like and what kind of health insurance we will have.”
Similarly, the employees decided how the new Kaunas’ office will look like: a task force was formed to work with architects and designers, to decide on the size and layout of the offices. They carried out a survey asking for their colleagues’ opinions and selected everything – from cabinet color to carpet and kitchens.
“Yes, it took longer – democracy and surveys take time but people look at their own workplace, feel and act differently when they have contributed to every decision concerning it,” S. Rutkauskaitė says.
All activities are in the hands of nine committees
The unique model of corporate self-management is implemented through nine committees, which are responsible for various aspects of the business. For example, the Benefits Committee decides what benefits (bonuses) employees would like to receive: from health insurance to in-store discounts or vaccinations. The Excellence Committee helps to systematize the process of employee competence development so that each employee has equal rights and opportunities for improvement.
The Culture Committee is concerned with the values of the company, both in their dissemination and in their fostering. The Internal Committee helps create a welcoming and fun atmosphere within the company – from celebrations, mini-surprises, to work-related activities and social campaigns.
The Internship Committee helps mentors organize a quality internship process for young IT professionals. The Kudos Committee runs the kudos system – where points of esteem are awarded for the work that is beneficial for the company, team and oneself. The Leisure Committee tries to make sure that colleagues are willing to spend time together after work, organizes team-building events and the Bureau Committee provides a good office atmosphere, deciding on work unrelated items in the office – from coffee tables to wall paintings or beanbags.
Equipment enthusiasts join the Techie Committee, which creates a wide variety of gadgets, from a 3D printer when they weren’t readily available, to a robot-bartender, game machine, text-writing robot, and other technological inventions.
According to S. Rutkauskaitė, such a management system perfectly matched both the specifics of the company and the expectations and needs of the people working there, “We are not afraid to give power to the employees themselves. The main benefit we all feel is that we make everything the way we want to. Our attitude is simple: if you do not like something, you have every chance to change it. From the office to a conference or leisure. This is how we all build a company with a pleasant atmosphere.”