worldblu 2012 award

What does it take to create a culture of employees that love working for you?  To be ranked in the Top 20 tech companies in Mexico (with companies like Nokia, SAS, HP, Dell, Symantec, SAP…) five years in a row?  Or be a WorldBlu “Most Democratic Workplace” four years running?

As part of a lead generation project, we visited our client Nearsoft’s HQ in Hermosillio, Mexico (about an hour flight south of Los Angeles), where they have about 100 employees (80 are engineers).

Who’s Nearsoft?

nearsoft team - birthday

Culture is vital to Nearsoft’s business, even more so than for most companies.  Nearsoft helps software companies expand their development teams with a dedicated team of engineers in Mexico.  Clients end up with what feels like a single integrated team, where some people work in headquarters…and others work in Mexico, talking every day with their scrum/agile udpates.  

Everyone on the blended client-Nearsoft engineering team speaks the same language (English), shares the same values (respect, honesty growth), and gets up and goes to sleep at (about) the same times. 

One of Nearsoft’s unique advantages in recruiting, developing and retaining great talent is their culture – people want to work and grow there, as the many years of awards show.

Perhaps their “53 second intro” is a more fun way to learn about them?

YouTube Preview Image

Some Neat Things About Nearsoft’s Management & Culture

These practices have been created over the years because because Roberto Martinez and Matt Perez, the co-founders, believe in creating a culture where people are empowered rather than dependent; of choice rather than control; trust rather than fear; and where people enjoy their work and each other:

  • Nearsoft doesn’t have managers; people form self-organizing teams. For example, if someone needs to take Paid Time Off, they need to let their team know and figure out how to deal with it.
  • Evaluation & feedback is done by peers.
  • New hires go through a consistent onboarding process that includes not starting anything client-related for at least the first week. Instead, they have lunch every day with different people / teams, train, learn and invest in their Nearsoft knowledge.
  • New hires are purposely “left lost in the jungle”.  New hires are specifically not given very much direction, to start forcing them to realize they need to make their own way, and take the initiative. The more direction you give people, the more they need it.
  • A fun & engaging employee handbook rather than a dry, painful “compliance handbook” that is totally ignored.  You can see and download Nearsoft’s below.
  • A mentor/buddy system: Every new hire gets a mentor, which is someone who’s been at Nearsoft for at least a year.  The mentor’s in charge of helping point the new hire in the right direction, as well as figure out if the person is a rare mis-hire.
  • Compensation is public: Nearsoft’s very transparent, and this is just one example of it! 
  • Employees can choose where they sit.  That might sound like a small thing, but seriously – how often do companies let new hires make a choice beyond “do you want this chair or that one?”
  • Bi-annual Assessments – disconnected from compensation.  Many companies go through the motions of annual reviews, which usually are almost-useless justifications for compensation changes.  At Nearsoft, twice a year employees are assessed, get feedback on where they’re progressed and further areas of improvement.  While it is related to possible raises (which can happen once a year), the main purpose of the Assessment is to encourage personal & professional growth.
  • Nearsoft fires abusive clients that don’t respect their employees, such when a toxic executive slips through the filters and signs up. No money is worth the damage to people.
  • Engineers can choose their clients: Developers can decide they want to leave a client team to join a different one, if there’s availability.  This doesn’t happen a lot, because of the long-term relationships with clients – at many clients, the Nearsoft people have been working at the client longer than most of the internal engineers!

Now 98% of Nearsoft’s employees are engineers; but the same principles and practices apply to any kind of team, including sales & marketing.  People are people.

Now if you’re in high-growth or “driving” mode, your practices could be very different than more stable organic growth, and every company and culture is different, so it’s about defining your values and how you want your work to feel, then refining up your practices like these step by step.

What one or two of these ideas struck you as something you can start with, to try at your company?

Nearsoft’s Creative Employee Handbook

A couple of screenshots of pages (and you can also download the entire thing):

Nearsoft Employee Handbook Picture

Nearsoft Employee Handbook Picture 2

Download Nearsoft’s full New Employee Handbook:

Download Nearsoft's Employee Handbook

To Contact Or Learn More About Nearsoft

More From Our Trip

Gabriel, Fausto, Roberto, Matt, Carlos, Aaron (missing: Alicia, who’s taking the picture):

nearsoft visit

Gabriel Padva expertly led the group through a process / matrix to help them define their core educational-based marketing topics, which is a post for another day 🙂   (click the picture to enlarge)…

nearsoft educational matrix

You gotta get some celebratory churros after a long couple of days!

Nearsoft Churros

Heading home on an Embraer jet; they’re nice, but the ride was bumpy:

alicia mexico jet nearsoft

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