Our team in Munich currently consists of 26 people with the most diverse relationships to fairafric. Some have only been there for a short time and therefore unfortunately mainly know fairafric from their screens in home-office, others have been with fairafric since day one. Back then, there was one person responsible for sales and one responsible for marketing. Today, each subdivision has its own person in charge. For example, our sales team is divided into food retail (LEH), wholesale, zero-waste shops, fair trade and organic and natural food shops, each with their own manager (female manager to be precise).
The marketing team has also changed a lot. Two years ago, Elisa was the sole person responsible for this area. Today, she leads a team of six people who manage a wide variety of tasks with their individual talents. Besides Sales and Marketing, we also have the Operations team, which includes the Finance and the Fulfillment department. Here, large processes such as the conversion to a public limited company are managed and all the orders, whether for the wholesale trade or individual customers, are sent out by our fulfillment assistants themselves.
Since last year, we also have a human resources manager who is not only responsible for new hires and payroll, but above all for feelgood management. We asked Maria herself what exactly that means, and how she would describe the way we work.
Feelgood Management and Skillsharing
Maria, what exactly does Feelgood Management mean for us at fairafric?
Maria: For us, Feelgood Management means that we take care of each other. We do this not only internally, by praising and supporting each other and giving regular feedback. We also meet every few months, ideally four times a year, to talk about changes, possible conflicts and wishes. To do this, I regularly create surveys, ask questions and open up spaces for discussion. We want to be as open as possible with each other and work on different topics together. This way we can grow together and develop fairafric as a company that is always in line with our shared values. It is about making sure that people who work at fairafric are doing well. This goal is a task in itself that requires a lot of empathy, trust and also creativity. Investing time and money into the well-being of the team is already an important step in the right direction for any company.
How is our team currently composed and what is important to us at fairafric in terms of team structure?
Maria: Our team actually consists of two teams, one in Germany and one in Ghana. In Germany there are the three departments Sales, Marketing and Operations as well as the executives and some freelancers. Recently, we officially became a public limited company with a board of directors consisting of our founder Hendrik and our German team leader Julia. However, the elementary decisions are not made by the board alone, but together in the team. The principle of working “at eye level” is very important to us. Although officially there are hierarchical levels, in practice we have very flat hierarchies. Because every employee is crucial, especially in a start-up, we are all given a lot of responsibility for our areas of work right from the beginning. We place a lot of value on independent work, personal initiative and mutual trust. This is what we thrive on as a team and as a company and it is what makes our work so exciting. As we grow fast, we also place a lot of emphasis on creating very specific areas of responsibility for each employee. We want and need to structure ourselves more strongly so that we can continue to work well together while remaining efficient. But this is also a decision and development that we are tackling together.
What further training opportunities and offers are there outside of the daily work?
Maria: We all like to spend time together as a team and that’s why our daily work routine alone is usually very colorful and varied. In order to get together outside of the office, every month a different tandem organizes a team event. The events range from game nights to climbing together to picnics in the sun. This is particularly important since we keep growing and still want to get to know each other in an ever-expanding team. We also have a skill-sharing concept, because we believe that each of us can teach the others’ something. One of us leads a workshop on a topic that he or she knows particularly well and that is also helpful in everyday work, such as Excel skills, data protection, home office methods, mindfulness exercises or controlling. This way, we share our competences with each other and since it also serves fairafric, half of the training time is working time. We also have a budget for external training which amounts to € 250 per person and year.
Joint decisions, clear areas of responsibility and independent work are very important at fairafric. It is also important to us that we do things together as a team and communicate a lot – even across the different departments and divisions. To create a good exchange, we have set up a so-called buddy system. In this system, usually two, sometimes three people from different divisions join forces and are responsible for a specific topic. There are now more than 20 topics, which are dealt with and discussed by different buddies. Usually, one of the buddies is also responsible for the implementation, while the other buddy is mainly supposed to contribute input and knowledge from his or her area. In this way, important issues are not only addressed unilaterally and decisions are made with consideration for the interests of all.
One example from our buddy system is the B2C newsletter that our customers receive. This is jointly designed by our online marketing manager Mark and our organic sales manager Lotte, given to our content manager Sophia for implementation and proofread by different people. This means that not only different perspectives and contents are taken into account. The rest of the team also knows which people he or she needs to contact with questions or suggestions.
5 questions for: team leader Julia
Finally, we have asked five short questions to our team leader Julia. She has been with fairafric since the beginning and to everyone’s excitement, has now taken over the leadership of our team in Germany.
You can find the video of the mini-interview with her on Instagram and Facebook.
What would your personal chocolate creation for fairafric look like?
I love coffee and I love chocolate, so it would be a dark chocolate with little roasted coffee bean chips. Similar to our cocoa nibs chocolate, with a little crunch in it. I think that would taste really good and would be perfect for me as a coffee junkie.
How would your perfect working day start and end?
In the morning I would do a round of yoga to arrive at the office relaxed and get smoothly through the day. At the end of the day, I would jump into the local river Isar with colleagues or friends and enjoy the sunset with a cold drink in my hand.
Which fairafric chocolate and which Amanase product are your favorites from the current range?
The first one is the chocolate covered pineapple from our subsidiary Amanase. It tastes delicious and I love the design as well. And then there’s our 70% tigernut almond chocolate, which we’ve had on the market since last December. It’s also one of our bestsellers and I think rightly so, because it’s simply the best variety we have in our product range.
What impressed you the most when you visited Ghana?
Definitely the local team! It is simply amazing to see the motivation, commitment, knowledge and drive to succeed with which the people there face all challenges. No matter what the problem is, a solution is always found and it is simply incredibly motivating to know that such people are part of our team. You get a real boost of motivation when you come back from Ghana and just know what you are doing it all for.
Describe fairafric with a gesture!