BY NICK WIECZOREK
After spending a good amount of time with Katie during the interview process, we knew she was a perfect fit for Cliq: hardworking, entrepreneurial, pragmatic, and laid-back but opinionated. That being said, the prospect of her spending her first three months as a Cliq employee at another company worried us greatly. We knew Eight Bit had a great culture, but we wanted to introduce Katie to the Cliq culture and from our experience, the first three months sitting in an office with someone is when you start to make that personal connection. You learn when you can poke fun and when you can’t (poking fun is a big part of Cliq culture). You start to develop professional trust: things get done on time, to-dos are written down and people start feeling comfortable saying “I don’t know”. So, the professional trust piece had to wait a bit, but we tried to make up for it by making sure to spend time with each other. We scheduled one day a week that Katie would come to Cliq HQ after work and work late with the team. We also tried to get lunch and dinner as much as possible. I can’t emphasize how important this was for us. While working in two different places, it’s very easy to focus on your individual responsibilities, but you need to take time to start understanding how your new employee fits in with the team.
In one of my favorite TED Talks, Margaret Heffernan outlines why social capital is so important for teams:
Social capital is the reliance and interdependency that builds trust. The term comes from sociologists who were studying communities that proved particularly resilient in times of stress. Social capital is what gives companies momentum, and social capital is what makes companies robust. What does this mean in practical terms? It means that time is everything, because social capital compounds with time. So teams that work together longer get better, because it takes time to develop the trust you need for real candor and openness. And time is what builds value.
All companies should strive to embrace these tenets of team culture, but social capital proves especially important for working effectively with a new and remote employee. We tried our hardest to build this social capital with the weekly on-site work nights and frequent team dinners, but nothing replaces that physical presence in the office every day.
Listen to Heffernan’s insightful Ted Talk in its entirety: Why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work
Working with Eight Bit on the actual development of the iOS side of the code went very well. All of the standard pieces of a dev engagement including weekly updates and a project dashboard were already in place. But for us, one of the most important factors leading to the seamless communication was having Katie there every day. What’s risky about an expensive contract with a development shop is not really knowing what they’re doing. Since we had a full-time employee there every day, all we had to do was contact her to get a behind-the-scenes look.
It was also crucial to keep Katie in the loop on all business objective and strategies so that she could weigh in on features, budgets, and other decisions. Even though she was new to the team, she was still one of our first hires and thus extremely important. Furthermore, because of her equity in the company, all strategic decisions had direct implications for her. As a result of Eight Bit’s expertise and support combined with Katie’s talent, dedication, and loyalty, the project ended up delivering under budget and right on schedule.
Post Eight Bit:
Before we launched, Cliq spent two months iterating on the product internally. We had already been beta testing and there were some features we knew we wanted to include in our launch. Katie now owns the entire iOS portion of the code. Having been with the product since step one, she is indispensible to the Cliq team and company.
Moreover, we have been able to maintain a special relationship with EightBit. Since the outset, Katie has been able to maintain the code base, allowing us to bring Eight Bit back for a few development sprints post-launch. It has been critical to have that firepower available to us, and we look forward to continuing to develop this invaluable partnership.
Stay tuned for Eight Bit’s perspective in Part Three…