Bright Inventions turns 10 in March! What do we value? How did we get there?

10 years, 53 projects and 70 people on board… Let’s talk to Ula who has been shaping our bright team for over five years. Find out what team we have tried to build and what values have been driving us for the last decade.

Ula Stankiewicz Bright Inventions

You came to Bright Inventions 5 years ago when the team consisted of 8 people. Now we have over 70 team members. How did you increase these numbers with pretty small resources?

That was simply hard work. I guess it is still hard work. 🙂 I was the very first “non-technical” person in the team. Apart from conducting recruitment activities, I had to build the whole brand awareness almost from scratch. Naturally, we had a website, which looked completely different than now, and a few social media accounts non-managed on a daily basis. But I think that was exactly the biggest asset I was given - this "blank page" undestroyed by anything.

I was able quite quickly to build a marketing and HR strategy thanks to the fact that I worked closely with the co-founders of Bright* and I was engaged in every process in the company. I quickly realised what kind of company Michał and Daniel wanted to build and what kind of people we needed on board. The goal was to create a place where people can develop and enjoy what they do. All that in a positive and responsible environment.

Knowing all that and getting to know all those great people who were already at Bright I deeply identified myself with the brand, wanted to truly be a part of this team, and make it grow. I just believe in Bright Inventions. I think we all do, and we genuinely share that in both internal and external communication. I think people can see the authenticity and candor. And it brings them to us. We have in our Bright team people who really enjoy solving problems, learning and supporting each other. There are people who can work together and have fun together.

For the first 3 years of my work at Bright our recruitment needs were not so emerging. We grew to 30 people during that time. But in the fourth year we doubled that team. Therefore, managing all the processes inside the company became a bit more challenging. The success lies in the consistency, on-going market analysis, quick adaptation to changes and verifying if the things you do make sense for your team.

How does a recruitment process look at Bright?

This process has been modified and optimized over the years. In the beginning, when our recruitment needs were much smaller, we acted quite dynamically and there were situations when we offered candidates a job during an interview or just after it. So that was fast, truly Agile – some would say. 😉

Recently we have been working hard to involve more team members in the recruitment process so our experienced devs are a part of the team that conducts technical talks. And it is crucial that everyone follows the same rating rules, scales and search for the same values. The process has become a bit more structured.

Recruiting process at Bright Inventions

How does it look? To cut the long story short, every candidate after the screening session has an initial call with one of our recruiters. We want to find out if we can really bring value to someone’s development. I believe it should work like that. It is just like in a relationship. Based on resumes we can see more or less what candidates have to offer. The point is that they should also know what they may expect after joining our team and how we can help them in their further career. Feedback starts here.

If the screening session goes well and both sides are happy, we invite a candidate to the first round of the process i.e. online interview with me, Agata or Paulina and one of our colleagues from a development team. The second round is about doing a technical task (in case of developers) and only selected candidates move to that round. We do not want to waste people’s time if after the interview it is clear that expectations from both sides are different.

The technical task is a complementary part, but we use it only if together with a candidate we are sure about taking this next step. One important thing – that is the candidate who sets up a deadline, so you have great freedom to schedule that appropriately.

After each part we are giving feedback. After screening, live at the end of the interview, and after the recruitment task once again.

We were always very open and honest during the process and that is crucial for me to maintain. It should always be a dialogue not a form of an exam. We focus on sharing knowledge in the most friendly way possible. I want candidates to have an added value after meeting with us. It ought to be win-win.

What is the most important part of a successful recruitment process?

Transparency and feedback. We should have nothing to hide. Both sides should express their expectations and needs. Also, (and I know it sounds like a cliche) treating others how you would like to be treated. Sorry if I have disappointed you with this answer but simple things like that are very often more effective than complicated and long strategies. 😉

What are Bright Inventions core values then? Who are we looking for?

It is an easy question, at least I suppose it is. We are looking for people who would like to create Bright Inventions with us. People who appreciate feedback, self-development and at the same time value teamwork. We are a place for people who are not afraid of sharing their ideas and take ownership of what they do. The goal is to create not only software solutions that work, but also a bright community that works.

We have five core values and we use these values in each possible situation. Starting from recruitment, marketing and communication strategies and ending in our daily work in projects.

Bright Inventions 10th birthday

We also use so-called value based recruitment, the approach that lets you check if your potential employee’s values match with your organization's values and mindset. In fact, the success itself is often sustained by values we are committed to.

But coming back to the point. As I have said we have five company values that we are keen to promote through everything we do. The core values should be visible in every area of the organization. In our case these are responsibility, flexibility, teamwork, positive attitude and client orientation. I can elaborate on each and every one, but I am not sure if we have enough time for that. But they are well described on our company website. 🙂

How do you take care of team building in times of hybrid and remote work?

hybrid working model at Bright Inventions

When the pandemic started, we rather quickly came from offline to online. Actually, the easiest part was to move recruitment processes online. Maintaining team spirit has been more challenging. People suddenly couldn’t meet face to face. The crucial part was to maintain the human factor. Despite online work, we have been organizing lots of opportunities to stay in touch with each other. Firstly, we started with a morning call to start the day together. The call was at 7.45 AM so obviously not everyone wanted or was able to participate. 😉 Then we started to use the Donut app that enabled us to have short lunch breaks and calls with people from our team.

Now, after two years of pandemic our work could be described as a hybrid one. It is a healthy mix of individualistic needs. Some people come to the office every day, some twice a week and some maybe once a month or even less. Each option is fine as long as it gives people the opportunity to do their work best. We have to be aware that remote is not for everyone. In some cases it just doesn’t work.

But despite the hybrid work model we didn’t give up face to face meetings. We organize lunch roulettes (random people go to lunch paid by the company) and board game Fridays. We have MTB, run and swimming training together after hours and we participate in regular team retreats. We are trying to create many opportunities for people not to lose the team's spirit value.

You often say that continuous feedback is a crucial part of our bright culture. How does continuous feedback look in practice?

In practice it means a lot of conversations, compassion and problem solving. But it also means a lot of satisfaction. It is challenging to build a real continuous feedback culture, we are still building ours. When the team was smaller it was natural that we were talking about everything, for example in a kitchen. When the team got bigger, the real fun started. 😎

I can see that people generally in life struggle to give useful feedback or to give any feedback at all. I am happy that I work with these who are open and at Bright feedback culture works pretty well. But the common problem is that very often we have been not taught how to give and get feedback, especially regarding negative one, which is the best thing we can experience (if it is communicated properly, of course). People are frequently afraid of showing their true feelings and opinions. They are afraid of the reaction that may follow. To stay friends they can keep tough feedback to themselves and in consequence valuable insights are never given. It happens. Maybe not here, but still it does.

feedback

Introducing continuous feedback culture is showing your team that they will not be punished for sharing their views when you disagree with them. You have to create space for open discussions. At the same time it is educating people that we should not feel hurt or offended when someone asks us to change our behaviour. Natural reaction is defense and protecting our ego while hearing criticism, but feedback is not about criticizing, it is about continuous improvement and taking care of each other.

In fact, I think that all depends on how feedback is given and received. There should always be a good intention behind it. That is really the first step for anyone who wants to create a continuous feedback culture - to understand what true feedback is about and why it is given. Then we can start introducing feedback sessions for our teams, 1:1 meetings with managers or tech leads, follow-up meetings and many other initiatives. But the team should understand why we do. And we have to do it regularly to see the effects as continuous feedback culture is not about doing annual performance reviews and KPIs, it is an iterative process. Maybe even an experimental one. But worth every minute of your time.

And last but not least. How would you describe our team in one sentence?

It is a community of positive, responsible, ambitious and supporting people. 🙂

*Apart from Michał Łukasiewicz and Daniel Makurat (the co-founders) I would like to say BIG THANK YOU to Mateusz Klimczak, Piotr Mionskowski and Adam Bar (who is no longer with us now), but who were really supporting me during my first months in the company. 🧡
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