SR is growing, we are more and more often recruiting talented individuals working with larger corporations to fill exciting roles. We know that taking the step to join a small organisation such as ours is rarely easy. One of the co-founders of Stanley Robotics, Stéphane, knows this all too well as he left a large company to create SR with Clément and Aurélien. We spoke to him about this to tell us more about the topic and to get his take on how he handled the change.
Hi Stéphane, Let's start with what surprised you the most coming from such a large organisation?
SE. Hi, one of the first things that can surprise you coming from such a large company is that from Day 1, the roles are rarely very defined. In fact, when we recruit for certain jobs, our hires, fortunately, know more than us and redefine these roles to suit the job. We have also made the experience that they are in the end really happy to enjoy such a freedom.
How important would you say flexibility and quick decision making are in this situation?
SE. I know from experience how much the decision-making dynamic in large companies - although improving - stays and will always lag behind.
In our interviews, this is one of the major reasons cited by candidates for leaving a large company. At SR, strategic decision-making is a daily occurrence and is done in a brief meeting in the morning or on Slack.
We are also rapidly implementing the latest IT tools to be more efficient, and effective.
Empowerment is also important, teams can initiate and decide a lot of things themselves. This is clearly an accelerator.
Did you notice a difference in the flexibility between yourselves and any new colleagues?
SE. At SR, we live by our values. When we say "Own the company!” we really mean it. On Day 1, our new colleague is one of the owners of Stanley Robotics. A.C.T.I.V.E Owner. Indeed we give shares of the company to each employee. But ownership for us is really much more than that.
Any team member can immediately influence the course of the company, give their opinion and be listened to respectfully. They act as a brand ambassador and represent SR as a whole. A newcomer is therefore immediately treated with as much respect and is just as empowered as a senior employee.
I can personally attest that this is much more motivating and exhilarating than the involvement that you find in large companies.
We expect each new employee to help us grow and integrate quickly into the SR way.
Do candidates who choose to come to SR rather than stay in a larger company take more risks?
SE. Yes, undoubtedly: working with us is riskier than developing in the comfort of a large company. We don't try and hide this fact. At the same time, SR brings together women and men who love risk and are able to cope with the uncertainty. Moving forward into the unknown with a confident team is what is thrilling ;)
Personally, working in a startup has given me a new lease on life. It's such an exhilarating adventure, and makes me feel good every day!
Would you say the advantage of a large company is in its global presence?
SE. Yes, but in a large company, any new business unit or new innovation is diluted through the sheer mass of the enterprise. You can never be sure that you will be in the team that sees something through to the end. Additionally, although the company has a global presence, you might only act as part of a national entity and have no influence on the globalization of the business. It can be frustrating.
At SR our market is the world from day 1. Our solution is unique, and so we create a global market. We are by the way already in advanced contact with large organisations from all over the world.
If you join us, you grow with us, at the exponential speed of our growth. Scary but so exhilarating and rewarding !!!
People are sometimes put off by the ambient "bullshit" that seems to reign over the world of innovation. Is their concern justified?
SE. At SR we never use the word "innovation" (laughter).
Moreover, those who know us well will tell you: we say "no" very often.
We participate in very few events, and almost in no public one (we focus on airport B2B events, because that's where our current market is). We do not do any startup competitions. We flee public appearances with the political world: they're too time-consuming, and our ego is doing just fine without them. We politely decline all commercial solicitations that are not in our development strategy. And one of the mottos that guides our team the most is "Make it simple, now." We go straight to the point. Zero bullshit.
According to the candidates we interview, this radical focus is one of the points that most inspire them to join our exciting adventure.
How does someone get an idea of the working atmosphere at Stanley Robotics? When you aren't from a startup, it can be hard to imagine, right?
SE. Certainly, yes.
To improve the quality of life at work we have set up "Supermood" surveys. Every Monday, the team receives a mini survey that takes 2 minutes to complete and allows you to take the SR's pulse so to speak, and suggest any ideas for improvement.
This poll also allows us to establish a "SuperScore".
Candidates often ask me what it's like to work at SR, what's the atmosphere like.
I show them the evolution of the "SuperScore" over time which illustrates the efforts that we make to be a company where people want to come to work every day.
Our blog also publishes interviews of our new recruits, who talk about how they feel when they start out with us.
Finally, before confirming a recruitment, we invite all the candidates to spend at least ½ day with the Stanley Robotics team at the end of the process, to have lunch with us, to explore our sites, the robots, etc. The objective is to solidify our desire to work and grow on our journey together. Candidates from very different backgrounds can use this to measure if SR is for them.
Finally, a last word on culture shock: yes we wear jeans/sneakers to work, love foosball, sometimes eat pizza, play video games and get to know everyone. This surprised some of our recruits, but in their own opinion, they quickly realized that it went hand in hand with a very high level of commitment, dedication and seriousness. OwnTheCompany!
And what about the work-life balance?
SE. This is a point on which the founders of SR feel very strongly. We know that team members who are happy in their life outside of work give the best of themselves to the development of the company.
We set up a work-from-home day and flexible hours. Ask the Stan-girls and Stan-boys that you will meet: they will testify that work schedules are reasonable and preserve privacy. We also like to say that the fact that we - the founders - have children has influenced the development of such a business culture; human, respectful and caring.
Do you have any advice for candidates who still may be hesitant to take the plunge to join an organisation such as SR?
SE. Yes of course.
The first tip if you are in a large company: find someone from your company whom you cinsider as neutral and who wants the best for you and your career development. Discuss your opportunity openly with this confident, and any doubts you may have. If this person thinks that the job at SR is a chance not to miss, then go for it!
And also talk to an SR employee with children to find out how he balances this with his family life. We are confident that this discussion will be reassuring. I myself have an 8-year-old boy and the flexibility with which we work allows me to spend quality time with him every day.
SE. Thank you!