Interview with Jan Hauser, CEO of Applifting on creating an empowering work culture

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Jan Hauser, CEO of Applifting, shares his insights on business strategy, the implementation of flat management structures, retaining staff and supporting worker autonomy in our new economy.
Jan Hauser, CEO, Applifting

It’s no secret that businesses are going through a profound structural change in both the U.S. and Europe post-pandemic. With the relationship between employers and employees changing dramatically since the Great Resignation, we’re entering a new era where management structures are evolving and the work culture has to adapt.

Jan Hauser, CEO of app and web software development specialists, Applifting, sat down with Digital Weekday to share insights into the management structures that are defining the future of company culture in the tech industry.

With offices in London and Prague, Applifting designs technical architecture for businesses seeking to build digital products and modernize their existing software solutions. With their global team of app developers, the company has created a unique international culture, supporting clients and their developer teams across the European market as well as in North America and Canada.

Discover Jan Hauser’s insights on Applifting’s business strategy, the implementation of flat management structures, retaining staff and the importance of worker autonomy in our new economy.

When and why was it decided that Applifting would be created with a transparent and mutually supporting flat structure?

Jan: It was perfectly natural for us to work this way right from the start. As the number of Applifters grew, there was a need for a person to be responsible for communication with the client to avoid possible misunderstandings. This role is a team leader. He or she is a contact person for clients and also makes sure team members are happy with their environment, equipment or have sufficient work to be going on with.

How does Applifting maintain its business strategy with a flatter management structure?

Jan: As mentioned above, one person per project is designated for contact with clients.

Each Applifter can bring in new business, but that piece of potential business must pass our business ethics checks. The business ethics check is a special decision-making procedure that we carry out so everyone can have their say on whether we start working with any particular client.

We want to work on projects that make sense to us from an ethical standpoint, which is why everyone’s opinion is important to us, even if it means sometimes turning down work.

How does the flat structure work? How can deadlines and discipline be maintained in such a structure?

Jan: The personal responsibility of each team member is the key. We want all the Applifters to be empowered, brave and committed.

This goes hand in hand with the freedom to choose when, how much, and where team members work. But this way of working is not for everyone. That’s why we choose our Applifters very carefully—often the personality and cultural fit of the person is more important to us than their experience.

How does Applifting manage motivation, discipline, and promotion when salaries are transparent?

Jan: Open salaries are related to our sophisticated system of so-called competency models. These define the abilities and skills that Applifters should master in their position. They also determine what should be improved and what else is needed for professional and salary growth. Each of us has an internal mentor who helps us with the development.

How do you resolve salary disputes with people of equal experience?

Jan: Thanks to our system of competency models, disputes are very rare. Everyone knows what their salary is and it is at the appropriate level of expertise; for example trainee, junior, senior, and guru. This openness allows for informed debate and stimulates the Applifters to achieve the best possible results for our clients and their colleagues.

Do you aggressively target any of your competitors to poach staff/clients? If not, why not?

Jan: No, we don’t work that way. Poaching staff and clients is not in line with our culture and attitude. We want people to find us naturally and apply because they like our culture, they like how things work at Applifting and they see and hear that we provide an excellent experience for our clients.

What benefits does the Applifting structure bring internally for staff and suppliers?

Jan: By enabling individual freedom and autonomy, and making sure that every member of the team is listened to, this brings a joy of work, more enthusiasm, and commitment. That is beneficial for all parties involved, including partners and clients.

Do you have a special graduate training scheme? If yes, please describe it? What kind of graduates do you look for? Software developers? Sales support?

Jan: Yes, we have a special training program, but it is not just for graduates. Every Applifter has his or her own mentor who helps them develop their skills and grow professionally as well as financially. We are all supported to develop existing and/or new skills and there is an Applifting library with a wide range of resource material and the company has dedicated budget so staff can attend relevant conferences and exhibitions.

In a flatter management structure how does Applifting make crucial business decisions?

Jan: We have one governing body – a Council of Elders. It deals with essential matters related to day-to-day operations, the company’s mission and investments.  In addition, it discusses and then decides on other important aspects that affect the entire company operation. Council members are elected periodically by Applifters from among themselves. Any of us can become members.

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