Lots of freedom and opportunity to grow, but three non-negotiable rules: this is how we role.
7 April 2021
When it comes to company culture and organizational structure, Datashift has always been a bit “the odd one out”. We don’t follow the classical format most companies have. We don’t have a layered organization. No one is interested in the big job titles (mind you, we’re still very ambitious!). And we’re all about reaching success as a team. We’re wired a little differently and like to go our own way because we believe that’s the best route to take for our employees and clients. No matter how much we grow, this vision will always be at the center of every decision we make. It’s simply how we work.
So Datashift doesn’t have a classical organizational structure, but what does that mean? Well, no one is “just” a consultant, project manager, or customer advisor. Everyone is a little bit of everything. We work with roles. And those roles are divided into three sub-organizations: our client delivery, knowledge, and people organization. Everyone who works at Datashift - yes, C-level, too - plays a part in those three categories. The first one is all about the projects we deliver and our clients. With the second organization, we make sure people never stop learning, and the third one is sort of a support and growth system for every person at Datashift.
You’ll be building and sharing your knowledge. You might be asked to research a specific innovative topic, follow a training about a certain subject, or share your own know-how with the rest of the team.
Let’s take a closer look at what this means in reality. Say you start working at Datashift as a consultant (welcome!). You’ll, of course, work on projects in our “client delivery organization.” However, your role during a project will depend on the client’s needs, what the project is about, and your experience regarding that subject. For this project, you might be the person who stays in close contact with the client, making sure we can meet his or her needs. But on the next project, you could be taking the lead on the whole thing. At the same time, you’re also a part of our knowledge organization: you’ll be building and sharing your knowledge in a competence center. You might be asked to research a specific innovative topic, follow a training about a particular subject, or share your own know-how with the rest of the team.
And thirdly, our people organization: this is Datashift’s culture - or DNA, if you will - at its finest. We work with T1s, like the head coach in soccer, and troupers. A T1 is an employee who helps a small group of colleagues evolve in the different roles at Datashift. After all, we leave no (wo)man behind. Everyone gets the chance to learn, grow, and better themselves. The T1 has enough experience within our organization to know what you could do to evolve. Maybe you could sharpen your presentation skills? Or need some help on how to deal with clients?
No matter what level you’re at, you’ll always have to play your part in our three sub-organizations.
Here, all three sub-organizations come full circle and dance a perfect dance: if your T1 thinks you should broaden your know-how on a specific subject, our knowledge organization comes into play. Either someone at Datashift can help, or we make sure you get training from someone outside the company to sharpen specific skills. This will not only benefit your colleagues (you could help out other employees with what you’ve learned but our clients, too. This brings us back to our client delivery organization, where we always strive to get top-notch service to our customers, made possible thanks to our ever-evolving employees!
Not set in stone
It’s clear: at Datashift, nothing is set in stone. You’re not only a consultant. You’re also a tutor and a student. No one is always the head of a project, and no one is always customer support or sales. Everyone is in it together. This system of roles is the best way to give our customers and employees the best experiences. We don’t appoint someone as project leader “because he’s the head of projects”. No, we make someone a project lead because they are the perfect fit for that role in that particular project.
When we notice we can’t hire more people or take on more projects without damaging our culture, we will have to find another way to grow.
So if no roles are set in stone, can people still get a promotion at Datashift, you ask? Yes, of course! We work with levels, indicating someone’s trajectory at the company. You could go from analyst to consultant, to senior consultant, manager, and so on, all the way up to partner. But no matter what level you’re at, you’ll always have to play your part in our three sub-organizations. Your target will be different depending on your level, and we, of course, expect a different impact from a manager than a consultant. But how you fill in your role is very much up to you. Use your strengths and know-how, and you’ll do a great job!
You might think that as a growing company (forty-five employees and counting!), it might be challenging to keep up this way of working. Won’t we need fixed positions, like a project lead or customer advisor, for example, when our company grows to eighty, maybe even one hundred, employees? The answer is simply: no. It’s not in our DNA to work in a classical structure with fixed positions. We will always hold on to this way of working because there is no other option for us. When we notice we can’t hire more people or take on more projects without damaging our culture, we will have to find another way to grow.
But of course, as our company grows, we do need a few rules. We don’t have many, but the ones we do have are non-negotiable. One: we never sell a project we don’t believe in. Two: we don’t tolerate internal competition. Mind you; we want ambitious people. We encourage ambitions, even. But not at the expense of other people in the team. The team comes first. And three: we don’t settle for average. We want to grow, we want to win, we want to get better and better. If we notice someone in the team doesn’t respect these rules and have evidence he or she even goes against them, there is only one option: to let this person go.
Young team, mature mentality
As for the people working at Datashift: we have a relatively young team, but we have a very mature atmosphere. We aren’t afraid to have tough conversations, we - respectfully - say what we think, and we’re there to help one another. Why is this important? How I see it: people don’t have a “work-life” and a “personal life”; they just have a life. And as an employer, it’s of the utmost importance to make sure people feel good in their life.
At Datashift, we believe our role system and our three non-negotiable rules are the best way to make people feel good. Employees get to make a big impact on our company by sharing their know-how in our ‘knowledge organization’. Or by bringing their specific skill set to a project in the ‘client delivery organization’ and by being there for colleagues in our ‘people organization’.
Happy people do great things. And we do great things at Datashift.