In Central Europe, one Adobe leader has a knack for turning a place of work into a place of friendship.
When you have a team composed of scattered remote workers, it can be hard to actually work as a team. Its members rarely spend time in the same office, and the time they do have together is bookended by a plane trip or long car ride. People end up working as lone wolves, and turnover can be high when people decide the lifestyle isn’t right for them.
That is what makes one of Adobe’s Central Europe consulting teams especially unusual. On this team, people are located remotely all over Germany and Switzerland, they spend a lot of time on the road, and they work hard. But they’ve been together for nearly 10 years, supporting each other from wherever they are, and they’ve managed to form a group based on genuine friendship.
Much of that can be attributed to Matthias S., Director of Consulting for Central Europe.
“Many have become friends and visit each other in their spare time,” Matthias says. “Many of us have been here 5, 8, 10 years. Usually you have more attrition on consulting teams because so much travel is involved, but this team is all for one and one for all. It’s really something special.”
It hasn’t always been that way. When Matthias joined Adobe 10 years ago, the consulting team was small. But then the Adobe Marketing Cloud launched into the world. Customers, competitors, and industry watchers quickly realized that Adobe was poised to do something amazing in the world of digital marketing, and the business exploded.
That’s when Matthias’s team—once just made of 3 people—grew to 50. Engagement managers, project managers, architects, consultants, and user experience designers are all part of this tight community, and they come from all over: Germany, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Scotland, Turkey, Greece, and the United States. They implement Adobe’s digital marketing solutions for major customers such as Daimler, Audi, Lufthansa, Swisscom, and Novartis. And despite the fact that they’re located many miles apart, they function like a well-oiled machine—partly because of the time Matthias invests as a manager.
“My manager and I travel around to see them a lot and have face-to-face conversations,” he says. “And at least once a year, we have a team weekend where we all get together and do something, like sailing or going to the mountains—something not at all related to work—and then we go back to our remote offices but stay connected.” For Matthias, that means returning to northern Germany where he lives with his wife, four horses, two dogs, and the only one of his four children who still lives at home.
Matthias says that keeping the team together for so many years—and managing to hire people who would turn out to have such a close bond—is something he’s particularly proud of. How did he do it?
“I guess I’d say that I’m pragmatic, and honest with my team,” he says. “And consultants are keen on mastery and autonomy, so I try to provide that autonomy for them, trusting that they’re able to do their work and giving them time to do it. But in the end, it’s not magic. You just treat people with respect.”
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