A reflection on Coletiv’s culture and what keeps me here

A reflection on Coletiv’s culture and what keeps me here - Coletiv blog

Throughout my career, I have worked in several companies. From consultancy based businesses to product companies, from small and medium-sized companies to big corporations. In each of them, I only stayed for a maximum of 2 years, and after this time, I always felt I needed a change. But not now! So, I started thinking: what is keeping me here?

Let’s first start analyzing what led to my discomfort in previous companies I have worked for and later down the road to the switch.

Biggest reasons that led me to leave my previous companies

Salary

Many people say: “Money isn’t everything in life” and they are right. But although money isn’t everything, it plays a very important role in our current society. Everyone has bills to pay (e.g.: mortgage, rent, food, transportation) and objectives to fulfill (e.g.: buy a house, have a comfortable retirement time, travel), good luck doing all this without money…

Another related point that made me change was not the fact that I felt I should be earning more, but the fact that I always had to beg about salary raises. I think that salary raises should be given as an acknowledgment of your good work and contribution to the company and not a fight you need to put up.

Work / Project

The word engineer is derived from the Latin words ingeniare (“to create, generate, contrive, devise”) and ingenium (“cleverness”).

I am an engineer by heart! I didn’t study 15+ years to be doing the same exact thing over and over again or to just be hot fixing problems directly on a database day in day out.

I want to be challenged with a problem and brainstorm, idealize, and create solutions with the whole team. Solutions that not only solve the problem at hand but that are also maintainable in the long run.

Every company has it’s own set of projects that don’t require much creativity or that are exclusively on maintenance mode and that’s fine. For me, the problem is when every working day is spent on doing the same thing (e.g.: directly correcting data on a production database) over and over again. That doesn’t feed my hunger for product creation, doesn’t stimulate my brain, and in the long run won’t make me a better engineer.

People

The people you are surrounded by is really important. They are the ones with whom you will be spending a big part of your waking hours.

Let’s do some simple math: if you sleep 8 hours per day and spend 8 hours in the office, this means that 50% of your waking time is spent with your co-workers. If you just add up “dead time” (e.g.: commute time), this means that you spend more time with your co-workers than with anyone else, even your wife! (I am not counting the weekends here).

Have you ever asked yourself: “are my co-workers the kind of people I want to hang out the majority of my time with?”

The answer to this question is very important not only in terms of happiness but as well in terms of career evolution. If you are in a constant fight with your co-workers if you can’t bond with them if you can’t properly talk/discuss ideas, football, politics, or whatever topic you are interested in, you will be spending a big part of your life unhappy.

Also, it is very important to me that I can learn something from them and vice-versa. I want to learn and evolve, not being able to learn something new from or with my co-workers is a big red flag that usually leads me to search for new opportunities. Evolution is the only constant in our lives.

Company purpose / objective

We are living in a capitalist world. But this doesn’t mean that all we should care about is money. Don’t get me wrong, as I said before we all have bills to pay and dreams to fulfill that depend on money.

A company is basically a group of people that root for the same ideals, and I want to work for a company that aligns with my moral compass.

Needed a change

There have been times where all the previous points weren’t a problem, but I needed a change. As simple as that.

What keeps me at Coletiv?

Besides all the problems pointed out before not being a problem, there are a couple of points that I would like to add that are very important for my decision to stay here.

Our opinion is important

I feel that my opinion matters. This may happen because we are small. In any case, I feel that my ideas are taken into account and that I can contribute to the direction the company takes.

Openness

Not only our opinion is important but also the company is very open. We all know everything that is happening at any certain point and even the profits are known to us. Actually a percentage of the profit is distributed with everyone, which makes me feel that my contributions have an impact not only on our clients but as well on the company and ultimately in my financial health 🤑.

Intellectual freedom / Investment time

Another very valuable thing at Coletiv is intellectual freedom. The company never placed any restrictions on me. Actually is the very opposite of that, I am pushed to learn new technologies and take training courses. We now have Fridays to try on new ideas or simply do personal improvement (e.g.: try a new technology).

Boss is an employee as we all are

The relationship I have here with the so-called “boss” is different than I have ever felt before. I feel he is just a regular employee like us that has a different set of responsibilities.

The company also understands that personal problems affect your professional life, as such it tries to understand all of our personal and professional problems. This makes me feel that I am more than simply a cogwheel. It raises the employee-employer relationship to another level of trust and this will always weigh when leaving this or any other company.

What can we do better?

Not everything is great and we also have our own set of problems, which I will try to explain next.

Lack of career plans

I like to know where my professional career can/should lead me and I think that a proper career plan can help with that. Since my early days here, that there have been discussions around having a proper career plan, but so far that task keeps being postponed 😢.

Improve the efficiency of our Investment time

We do take Friday afternoon to invest in ourselves and the company, but the process and the outcomes are still lacking. I mean, we do take the time but it should be better prepared so that we have more visible outcomes, for example, visible contributions to the open-source community. In a sense, we should treat it like any other project we have and plan accordingly.

Taking too long until we have products of our own

Our objective, in the long run, is to also have products of our own, but like the career plans, these keep being postponed 😢.




This is a very opinionated article and I know this might not resonate with you, but feel free to comment your opinions below, I am really happy to discuss different points of view 😃

Thank you for reading!

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In case you don’t know, Coletiv is a software development studio from Porto specialised in Elixir, Web, and App (iOS & Android) development. But we do all kinds of stuff. We take care of UX/UI design, software development, and even security for you.

So, let’s craft something together?