Leaders by Design
By: Zoran Topalovic
Since we’re a software company, we’re most often looking for software developers or software engineers. But regardless of position or title, we’re looking for leaders. Since we don’t expect all the applicants to be natural born leaders, we empower our hires to be strong, competent, outspoken, and compassionate. After all, those are the skills all leaders need to be successful.
How Do We Do It?
We bring everyone up to speed as fast as possible, understanding individuals have different abilities or ways of learning. We teach people what our technologies are, assess their knowledge gaps, educate them on our product and the insurance industry, and help them feel comfortable. That enables them to jump in and feel good about their progress, rather than being on the job for three or four months before they feel like they’re contributing.
We do that because we don’t function with a typical hierarchy of middle-managers. Rather, we prefer to develop leaders — project leads, team leads, and others — because leaders aspire to make others around them better. As one of our people has said, “The ceiling at Finys is a ceiling you make for yourself.”
If you come with the intent to have a career at Finys, you can contribute to the best of your abilities and take on any responsibilities that are up for grabs. We’ll support you and guide you all the way. You can also expect to have a significant tenure.
Why Do Our People Stay?
I’ve been at Finys for 15 years. I started off as a junior developer. Within two years, I was leading a project team for one of our insurance companies. There were seven people on the team, and I was constantly creating backups for myself on the team. I may have been doing too good a job because my people were continuously promoted to leads on other projects. I took that as a pat on the back because I developed those people to the level at which they could take on additional responsibilities, grow their own careers here, and continue to develop other people.
Around forty-five percent of the people who work here have been here for eight years or more. Some of whom have been here for more than 20 years or are approaching their 20th year. Our people stay because of the unique leadership opportunities and career paths we offer. Our people stay because they realize that’s what they want.
Our people also stay because our pay structure is based on performance. We start our hires at competitive salaries. Then their salaries increases and bonuses are determined by performance in a given position. If they perform above expectations for a particular role, taking on responsibilities, growing, and becoming a project or team lead, their compensation is an outcome of that performance.
As Our Leaders Grow, We Grow
We encourage our employees to share their ideas. If they find ways to improve something or to do something better, we want to hear about it. And if they are feeling underutilized, we want to hear that, too. We’ll work with them to find a spot where they contribute more. We encourage people to be honest with us. We want to learn from them. We won’t be able to grow successfully without listening to the people who are doing the work.
We think our approach is fair to everyone in the organization. When I was hired, there were 15 of us. Since then, the company’s grown to more than 100. But our approach to people has remained the same. It works for us. It works for them. And we have no desire or need to change it.
After all, designing software isn’t the only thing we’ve been good at. It’s also designing our leadership. And we wouldn’t be half the company we are today without our leaders.
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