A vote of thanks: all hail the 2023 Value Awards winners
Make it Happen means we get things done and we deliver on our promise. Moreover, we do everything with energy and passion. Our customers can rely on us, just as we can rely on co-workers to take ownership. Simple as that!
Dieter joined the ranks a year ago. As our QA & DevOps lead, he’s responsible for sexy stuff like the testing, availability, resilience and cost-effective scaling of our IT infrastructure as well as information and application security. Colleagues say it’s great to have someone who questions our way of working and looks at things from another point of view.
Hats off, Dieter! I know you’ve been involved in many different projects like the force of nature you are. But what’s the one thing you made happen in 2022 you’re most proud of?
"Right after having onboarded in January ‘22, there was a target set to reduce 10 per cent of our operational cloud costs by summer-time. The Operations team was so heavily invested in making this target come true that we ambitiously overshot it only a few months later, effectively doubling the amount of savings and meeting our target twice! The energy in the team and the level of detail to make this happen was amazing. I quickly experienced what Teamleader and its values are all about!"
What’s at the top of your make-it-happen list for 2023?
"Leading both the Quality Assurance and the DevOps team presents me with a rather unique opportunity to align and optimize both roadmaps. Currently, the Quality Assurance team embarked on an ambitious plan to overhaul and further improve the entire End-to-End testing process. At the same time, the DevOps team is spinning up new Infrastructure as Code environments supporting that growth. Later this year, these roadmaps will converge and lead to not only reproducible environments but a better-secured environment properly tested by all our teams for our thousands of customers who rely on our tools every day."
How does someone get as much done as you? Any pro tips?
"Avoid context-switching and choose what to read at what time - learning to be a master of your own time. In a world where notifications are all around us and communication feels like a non-stop stream, it is easy to get side-tracked and increasingly difficult to create focus time - or switch yourself ‘off’ completely. By using a combination of notification schemes and postponing tasks and todos into grouped work items I seem to have found something that works for me. Reprioritizing and grouping work to a dedicated slot later in the day or week allows me to create that focus required to properly work on something. It’s also very important to not underestimate the value of ‘downtime’ by leaving work 'at work’ so you feel properly re-energized when you start again in the morning!"
Does a busy bee like yourself ever procrastinate? I promise I won’t tell anyone.
"Seeing as you won’t tell anyone: obviously, no doubt. I might actually procrastinate on purpose on occasion. The built-up adrenaline of ‘being just a tiny bit late’ can be the edge one requires to get to a specific insight or a long-awaited Aha-Erlebnis. Sometimes things just take time to develop, either way: procrastination is not necessarily a bad thing if you ask me. Just make sure you meet that deadline or re-set some expectations upfront when you need to!"
If there’s one miracle you could perform, what would it be? (Dream big.)
"Dreaming big? Awesome. Then I would without a doubt choose to have the ability to explain to friends and family what it is that I do every day and just how wonderful the work from the DevOps and Quality Assurance teams really is. It just doesn’t translate very well into an actual conversation around the dinner table."
Speak the Same Language means that we listen carefully and try to put ourselves in the shoes of the other person. We take a real interest in the needs of whoever’s on the other side, whether it’s a customer or a colleague, so we can truly help them move forward. We aim to be as transparent as possible. We make sure the person on the other end fully understands what we mean.
Marie has been at the company for 5 years already. She started as a first-line Support agent and now deals with more technical support cases as Support Engineer. Colleagues describe her as the bridge between customer and product. They say she’s a fast learner and always delivers high-quality work. Everyone admires her flawless communication skills.
Kudos, Marie! That’s Greek for “praise”, but I guess you already knew that. Anyway, you’re the first person ever to win the same Value Award twice. How do you feel about this unique achievement?
"Thanks! As stated during my incredibly brief acceptance speech, I feel blessed that my work is valued by so many colleagues with and for whom I work. Teamleader has grown a lot over the past few years, so it’s very energizing to know that the work I do today is still relevant to those who have joined the company since my first award. Winning that first award has also opened many doors internally, which in turn has contributed to the amazing projects I’ve been able to work on over the past year."
Between you and me, what’s your recipe for success? What does one need to do to win the Speak the Same Language award at least once?
"I think it all starts with having your own area of expertise in terms of the business or tool. Make sure you’re the go-to person people think of when they’re working on a related project, and at the same time get informed about what is happening within the company: you’ll easily identify projects or teams that can benefit from your specific knowledge and expertise."
"Also, don’t be afraid to form cross-departmental alliances to achieve your professional goals; this is where being approachable on Slack and in the office helps a lot in my experience. Fortunately, there are a lot of opportunities both inside and outside of work to connect with people from other departments."
What does Speak the Same Language mean to you? How do you apply this value in your day-to-day work?
"On a day-to-day basis, I mainly support our Customer Success and Sales teams with complex technical cases. In doing so, I try to make sure that whoever is talking to the lead or the customer, knows what they’re talking about and isn’t just copying what I say."
"Compared to other tools, Teamleader is known for its first-line support having above-average technical knowledge, and I think we (as second-line) can contribute to that by making sure we educate our colleagues through training and translate technical vocabulary into understandable content."
How many different languages do you speak today? And what’s one language you’d like to be able to speak?
"I’d say about 4: I speak fluent English and Dutch, and ‘sort of’ fluent French (especially after a few drinks). My German is average, and that’s about it. If I could ever learn another language, it would probably be a Scandinavian language like Norwegian. There are no practical reasons for this, I just think it sounds really cool, and despite the Duolingo owl being extremely persistent, I’ve never gotten past the basic vocabulary."
To understand the Being a Lobster value, you need to understand the lobster metaphor first. For lobsters to grow, they need to shed their rigid shell and create a new one. ‘Being a lobster’ refers to being adaptable and keeping up with changes. It means having an open mind, seeing the opportunities instead of the barriers.
Jeroen joined the company 1 year ago. And yet, it feels like he’s been around forever. As our Event Manager, he’s the brains and muscles behind every company event we organize. Colleagues like to call him Mr. Fixer, because he’s a master at thinking on his feet. He always manages to find a solution or workaround, especially when a deadline approaches.
Well-deserved, Jeroen! We know you get sunburnt easily, but this award is about something else. As a lobster, you know what it means to adapt and grow. (How) has worked at Teamleader changed you?
"A little over a year ago, I chose to move from a small yet majestic event agency to Teamleader because I was looking for different things in my life. I wanted more time for myself and loved ones around me and I was looking for new interests and challenges. So there was already a mindset shift before I started at Teamleader. The biggest change for me was learning to work in a larger structure with shared responsibilities and shared challenges. Now, I’m in a position where I can learn a lot and work together with the many colleagues in our organization, which allows me to grow professionally."
Tell me your secret. How does someone become the greatest lobster Teamleader has ever seen?
"First of all, I don’t think I’m the greatest lobster Teamleader has seen yet. I'm sure many before me have been exceptional as well. Unfortunately, there is no secret formula. In my opinion, you definitely need an open mind and a hands-on problem-solving attitude to master any life changes. Believing in yourself and in the message or story you want to convey is key. Finally, make sure you’re always well-prepared."
As an events guy, you know better than anyone how much effort it takes to organize an event to perfection. What’s the best event you’ve ever been to?
"I honestly don't think the perfect event exists and I don't think it needs to. As a team, you must always learn from previous events so you can do even better next time. I particularly like events where there is a real commitment from the entire company, where everyone, regardless of position or function, contributes to the result and enjoys doing so. Our own Work Smarter event is the perfect example of this, which is why it means so much to me."
At the risk of making you sound like a cannibal: have you ever tried lobster? Was it any good?
"I have always loved lobster and now I like it even more!"
Choose Positivity means we aim to radiate a positive vibe. We believe it’s fundamental - even self-evident - to be friendly and helpful in every interaction. It means being aware that working at a fast-paced tech company is not always a walk in the park. But a positive attitude goes a long way.
Sonal joined Teamleader one year ago. Together with her fellow Product Managers for Teamleader Focus, she makes sure we ship the right features to our customers. Colleagues say she’s always very well prepared and great at keeping track of the work that needs to be done. She does everything with tremendous energy, and it’s contagious.
Way to go, Sonal! I’m pretty positive you deserved this award, but tell me: why do you think your colleagues wanted you to win?
"Ah, to be honest, I think my colleagues are so kind and most people are bringing a generous amount of positivity to every room, every day. I had a challenging trajectory last year, a massive and complex initiative to modernize CRM, being new in the company and building together and guiding a new team. Maybe they made me win because despite having many surprises on the way, I kept the focus on how to solve each obstacle while maintaining a positive attitude and an inclusive and energetic atmosphere for my peers. I did not let the problems dampen my spirit and all my colleagues helped me with that by encouraging me, appreciating me and giving constructive feedback."
Tell me, how does someone choose positivity on a Monday morning at 8 AM, let alone win a Choose Positivity award?
"Like many good things in life, I believe choosing positivity is a habit we all can learn. I think what helps me to be positive at 8 AM on Monday mornings is starting the day by taking a step back, bringing the big picture to mind - even though we are colleagues working together for a business, we are humans first and we don’t just come together as colleagues but we bring to the table our unique expertise, life stories, experiences, perspectives, problems, solutions, etc. That helps me to look outside of my own tiny life and look at any scenario, no matter how inconvenient, from the other person’s perspective. Whether it’s replying to a JIRA ticket, picking up a call, replying to a message or handling difficult meetings, treat these things how you would want others to treat you! I have not nailed this … it’s a lifelong practice!"
We know you’re a positive person. But if you had to take one thing from 2022 that we need to improve, what would it be?
"Even though I am an optimist, I constantly think about what needs to be done better, with good intentions. Through a chaotic 2022 with high inflation, energy scarcity, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and recovering from COVID-19, I realize we are more important for our customers than ever. In 2023, we need to channel all our energies towards them. When they grow, we grow. They should be the unifying thread behind every big and small decision. On the other front, we should not forget that the product is a reflection of the people building it. And all the people also went through the same challenges as the world did, so let empathy and curiosity guide you!"
On a more positive note, what do you think will be our greatest accomplishments at the end 2023?
"I think our greatest accomplishment will be growing Teamleader’s customer base for both our smaller and larger user segments, smashing those growth targets. I truly believe that if all the different teams and stakeholders collaborate with synergy and focus on the product initiatives on the 2023 roadmap, we will realize this ambitious target."
Be Surprising means we aim to go beyond expectations. We want to positively surprise our customers and colleagues in a personal, inclusive and inventive way. By being surprising, we bring a smile to people’s faces and make them feel valued.
Maarten joined the company in September 2016. For many years, he was our only designer. So yes, you could say this is a bit of a Lifetime Value Award. Colleagues say he has the superpower of doing a thousand things at once and that he always delivers that little extra. Since 2021, he has a (very talented) sidekick to support him in creating top-notch visual materials for all kinds of campaigns and events.
Congratulations, Maarten! Does this award come as a surprise to you?
"I certainly didn't expect to win this award. Teamleader is full of surprising people, which makes it a great place to work. People constantly challenge each other to come up with new ideas, to be innovative."
"I'm very grateful to receive the award this year! Although I have to say I enjoyed being called on stage to receive the award a bit less."
Looking back at 2022, what’s the most surprising initiative you worked on?
"If I had to choose one, I would go with our Work Smarter 2022 event (ed. yearly flagship event for entrepreneurs)."
"I have been on the amazing core team for this massive project for several years now. I personally take care of the floor plan, focusing on the visitor experience. In 2022 we moved to a new location to do things bigger and bolder. The beautiful spaces of 't Kuipke and the Floraliënhal in Ghent gave me a lot of creative options. We ended up with 5 stages, 40 exhibitors, cosy networking zones and much more. We didn't make it easy for ourselves but it was extremely satisfying to see the result: a beautiful event! The positive reactions of the visitors confirmed our own enthusiasm."
Any tips for colleagues desperate to win the Be Surprising award in their lifetime?
"At first, don't always think immediately about what's realistic and practically feasible. During a brainstorm, go all the way. You can always make wild ideas smaller! Secondly, I think it is important that you feel good in your team. If you feel good you will dare to suggest the craziest ideas without being afraid that other people might think they’re “stupid”. Any suggestion can be a trigger for someone else."
If we were to throw a surprise party for you (we’re not), what are three things that should definitely be on our checklist? (Dare to dream big, it’s your party.)
"Woooow, my head is bursting with ideas right now!"
"It would be fun to rent a plane in which we could travel around with the entire company to party at the nicest places in the world. During the flights, we can sleep and then continue our party in another time zone. When we’re tired of all the partying we go to an island where we can relax!"
"So if you sum it up in a 3-point checklist:
- Cool music at a top location.
- Colleagues who feel like having a party.
- A babysitter for the week after this party."
Thanks for sharing your personal experiences and knowledge with us, all. Using all this valuable input we will now kick off Project Frankenstein and assemble the perfect Teamleader colleague. Someone with all your qualities. *Insert evil laugh*
Time to win your own award!
Come work for a company where:
- Your hard work is recognized
- Open feedback is encouraged
- Successes - small and big - are celebrated
- Last modified on 06/12/2023