Want to know more about how we work here at Swipes? Let’s talk about Yana.
Written by Ralitsa Golemanova
Yana Vlatchkova is our very own Chief of Operations (COO). She is one of the three co-founders of our Danish-Bulgarian startup that’s reinventing teamwork and striving to make companies happier places to work.
She’s always seen work as something one creates herself. So it’s no wonder that she was playing a salesperson with her mom’s business cards when she was a kid.
At Swipes, Yana is busy with running the day-to-day operations and making the team ever stronger. Holding strong on the rollercoaster ride called startup life, she skilfully juggles with business development and forging partnerships to grow the company worldwide as well.
For many people happiness at work sounds like a nice concept – but nothing more than that. It is an idea as far fetched from the reality of daily chaos and stress at work that it seems less possible than time travel.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, and Danes are great at proving that happiness at work exists.
My co-founders Kasper and Stefan and myself started Swipes in Denmark and wherever we are moving the company – Bulgaria and Silicone Valley, we make sure to bring the Danish culture of work joy with us.
I love that! It means so much to me that we have the freedom but most importantly, we have the responsibility, to shape a work environment where people thrive.
Creating a culture of happiness is a tough task and frankly, it is very time-consuming. Here at Swipes, I fight for it every day.
So let me be painfully clear. Happiness is not about having a constant freaky smile on your face and telling everyone how happy you are about what you do.
Happiness is a complex feeling for each team member, based on three important components: sense of purpose, connectedness and appreciation. To foster those, my everyday tasks are:
- making sure my teammates know their responsibility areas and how their work adds up to the bigger company goals = having purpose;
- bringing the team closer, having the tough talks, nurturing a culture of sharing and not allowing any problems to remain unspoken = connecting people just like Nokia does;
- giving recognition to both individual and team achievements, shedding light on people’s work so others can appreciate it too = appreciation.
And as difficult these tasks might be sometimes, my role brings immense satisfaction to me. Through the culture we’ve created here, I see my teammates building confidence, growing skills and developing a sense of belonging.
I see it with myself as well. For me happiness is tightly related to challenge. The challenge is the tough work we do every single day, with all the mistakes and failures. The reward is the happiness from the small wins.
You screwed up? That’s bad! But you also stood up and admitted it, thus you won over yourself and gained the respect of your coworkers for stepping in and fixing things.
This is something I’ve learned from our CEO, Kasper Tornoe, who’s a huge inspiration for the whole company. He is always setting a personal example in tackling challenges by admitting his own limitations, mistakes and disadvantages. This mindset of honesty and taking responsibility spreads throughout the whole company culture and immensely helps forging happiness at Swipes.
Here are five things you can test run as a Chief Operations Officer to strengthen the teamwork and build a happier company:
- Build a culture of responsibility. Do a weekly meeting where you stand up and reflect on the things YOU didn’t do right in the past week and your thoughts on how you will improve next time. Invite the rest to do the same;
- Build a culture of appreciation. Create a Slack channel or send a weekly email where team members can share their work and achievements for the past days and give each other credit. To make it relevant, do this for each team separately and involve only the people who are working together;
- Build a culture of proactivity. Next time someone complains to you about the work they or their colleagues do, hear them out, admit a fault on your end which has led to this situation and ask how they would improve it;
- Build a culture of sharing. Go talk to the busy bees on the floor and get to hear about their workflow and challenges. Constantly seek to gather info on how things are running in the background beyond the reported achievements;
- Build a culture of growth. Give updates to people about the areas you’re working on to improve yourself. Set an example. Ask for their feedback and encourage them to share knowledge that can help you and others.
How do you foster happiness in your workplace? We’d love to hear about your company’s experience in the comments below!