Onteres aims to be the biggest tech talent factory in Africa serving the world. This has its challenges, one of which is being in different geographical locations from our clients. We see this as an opportunity to work with clients all over the world and deliver impact stories without the limitation of geography. To achieve this, we realize the need for the productivity of our people to remain consistently high (being our most important resource). We also realize that we must provide an environment that makes that possible.
Our approach to managing productivity at Onteres includes:
- Providing the right tools
- Fostering open communication and working team autonomy
- Ensuring effective use of meeting time
In the rest of this article, we will be focusing on what we have done, specifically at Onteres along these areas.
Providing the right tools
A major priority for us is ensuring that we equip our people i.e. we give them all the tools needed for the job. This starts with ensuring colleagues have all the technical knowledge required to be able to perform at the high productivity bar we set for them. To achieve this, we have designed a rigorous and world-class capability building program to ensure our people can build the skills they need.
In addition, we have curated a list of tools used by all of our people to ensure we can get work done in a collaborative and highly effective manner. Some of these tools are:
- ClickUp: ClickUp is a cloud-based collaboration and project management tool that we use as a repository for all ongoing projects, a tracker for our set-goals, and a store of related documents. In ClickUp, we assign tasks to relevant owners, track the progress of task completion, link documents to relevant tasks, communicate on required actions, and report on overall positions of all projects we are running in Onteres. We chose ClickUp at Onteres because of the efficiency gains we get as a result of having one platform that fulfills all of our project management needs. No wonder ClickUp just raised $35 million in Series A funding!
- Slack: Slack is our official collaboration hub for teamwork. Work in Slack happens in channels, so all the right people can be included, all relevant information kept in one place, and new team members are brought up to speed easily. With Slack, our teams are better connected, ensuring we are all working more collaboratively and effectively despite being in different physical locations.
- Zoom: For virtual meetings, we use zoom (audio and video) as a platform for running our effective meetings.
Fostering open communication and working team autonomy
At Onteres, we allow freedom for teams to choose the optimal solutions to problems they encounter. We believe in our recruitment process and we demonstrate trust by giving our people autonomy on a wide range of decisions.
Our process begins with up-front conversations on expectations and deliverables on every piece of work to ensure alignment. Beyond that, the working team must make decisions as the problem warrants and agree on it before implementation. This is very important for productivity for two reasons:
- Motivation: In our experience, approaches developed by the working team are more natural to them. The autonomy helps them learn and ultimately, it motivates pin-point execution compared to a system of micro-managing
- Efficiency: Alignment on approach and expected outcomes ensures that valuable time is not expended on solving the wrong problems or taking the wrong approach
Ensuring effective use of meeting time
At Onteres, one of the biggest areas of efficiency gains is from having highly targeted and effective meetings. While meetings are absolutely necessary to achieve our operational and strategic objectives, they can be a big drain on time available to perform other productive activities.
As such we take a very simple approach to meetings: they must have a very clear objective/deliverable, be as short as possible and involve only stakeholders (colleagues and clients alike) needed for the meeting.
In practice, this means a couple of things. They include:
- Meeting agendas are agreed upon before meetings. Based on this, meetings are only held when there is a clear decision that needs to be made.
- Meetings are moderated around the important decisions that need to be made to ensure effective use of time. Other discussion areas are only touched on briefly (if there is time to spare) or handled offline.
- In cases where the agenda is clear, the question we then ask ourselves is: ‘who needs to be in this meeting for this agenda to be adequately addressed?’. The answer to this question determines who gets the invite to these meetings and saves time for other colleagues who are not needed.
As a rule of thumb, we ensure that all meetings do not have more than 10 participants.
At Onteres, we know that maintaining high levels of productivity is key to us being able to achieve our mission and this is why it is a very important topic for us. We are committed to revisiting our productivity strategy and sharing our learnings.