Employees first

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Recently I posted a blog post on the company website that I work for about positioning the employees and the customers. It is important for each and every company to realise the value of having satisfied employees.

 I will quote a bit from there:

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„Employees first, customers second” – said so many

Wow, isn’t that a radical thought coming from an employee of a market research company that is fully dedicated to help raise customer satisfaction? Or maybe not.

Thinking of it, this should be the basic idea of how a company works. Just like Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group said in an interview with Inc.: „Virgin does not put the customer first. In fact, Virgin employees are the company’s top priority.”

That sounds nice, but what does this have to do with customer service?

To put it simply, a lot. “It should go without saying, if the person who works at your company is 100 percent proud of the brand and you give them the tools to do a good job and they are treated well, they’re going to be happy,” and also “if the person who works at your company is not appreciated, they are not going to do things with a smile,” Branson says to Inc.. If I continue this way of thinking then I would add that if an employee is not treated well, then the company can end up losing valuable people who could have contributed to its growth.”  Read more by clicking here.

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What can a company do to make its employees happier

  • Listen to your employees on each and every level, if not they will still talk about their problems, but that will cause more harm to the company and the morals of other employees.
  • Listening is good, but it’s even better to show empathy at the same time. You need to udnerstand what is bothering the employees.
  • On the other hand if you just show that you listen, but don’t do anything that is much worse than not listening at all, because in this case you will lose trust.
  • Encourage the employees to take the initiatives and if you agree, then let them carry those out.
  • Let your coworkers teach each other – for sure each and every individual at your company has a unique skillset, why not share it? It will be benefitial not just for the company, but the employees as well.
  • If you don’t have the right answer and need some more ideas, just ask your coworkers – sombody might have the solution even if you don’t think they do.

These are only some suggestions that are free of charge and can really make a difference.

What will your company gain from all this?

  • Committed people who work with a smile on their faces;
  • They will find their work much more enjoable;
  • Feeling valued and an important member of the team, not just somebody who can be replaced easily;
  • They will feel that their career advancement is important to company as well.

If employees are satisfied they will now look for another job opportunity, but will stay at your company, preventing you to spend lots of money and resources to find new employees. 

 

New project, new website

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http://www.pexels.com

I was thinking for a long time now to start a side-business next to my job. And I didn’t want to believe that the opportunity actually arrived. It has potential, but how to start? According to my plan:

  1. Create a website.
  2. Find stock photos for that, for free would be great. At the beginning I don’t really want to spend more money on this project than necessary. See previous post here.Create a Facebook Page.
  3. Let’s do this.

Easy and quick websites  

If you have a starting business then probably you won’t have the resources to pay for a professional web designer or web developer to build your website. Later on, after your business is making profit, yes, you can think of getting a professional website, but at the beginning it’s not really necessary.

If you google ‘build websites’, ‘easy website creator’ or any keyword you think may fit then you will have thousands of options to make your own design online.

  1. eHost.com  – good because it is compatible with Wordpress
  2. Web.com  – I don’t really know this one
  3. GoDaddy.com – I chose GoDaddy, because I knew it from previous experience that you can build a web page literally within a few hours. But the whol platform is not very user-friendly. On top of that it always wants to sell you something, even though you don’t need that. The graphic is nice though and the website builder tool is very easy to use. I think this is the reason I chose it.
    Click here to check the website that was made within 8 hours.
  4. IPage  – it offers free domain names
  5. Strikingly  – looks beautiful and clear, but I’m not sure if it is really as cost effective
  6. weebly and many more.

They usually offer free trial, domain name, website builder with tools according to your needs or budget, hosting, email services and so on.

If I would have more time then I would check out my options with Wordpress. However to build up a fully customized website takes a lot of time, web designer knowledge and photo editing. If the initial website with the business idea turns out to be a profitable one then it will call for a real website created by a professional web developer.

What are the traits of a good workplace?

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Freely jumping in the sunset somewhere on top of the hill – watching this picture makes me want to do and feel the same freedom and happiness. Unfortunately, my watch is telling me to stop daydreaming and get ready for work. But is it possible to reach the same feeling in our workplace? I think, yes.

For me the list goes on and on, but here are the most important factors that I think are essential:

  • Good salary: no matter what surveys are telling us, this is one of the most important points. Let’s say if your salary is below the average at your workplace, after a while it really starts bothering you. It will have an impact on your mood and effectiveness in your job. So, companies need to take care of providing the sufficient salary as well.
  • Work-life balance: I don’t think I need to talk about the importance of this topic. Companies can help by providing flexible working hours, home office, emergency holidays, etc.
  • Recognition: it is very important in all levels and not just during the annual appraisal. It depends on the team of course, but it can be a monthly or quarterly or half-year appraisal as well. This can give a great opportunity to check certain skills and interests. Providing feedback regularly on one’s progress is becoming more and more important.

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  • Mentoring: now we have the recognition, but employees need sometimes someone they can learn from. There are people who like their job and want to be in the same position for a long time. On the other hand there are people, very typical for the Y generation, who wants to reach something more. In this case a good mentor is necessary. Learning from someone who is more skilled then you are now, it is a great opportunity to gain new ideas as well.
  • Transparency in communication: most of the companies think it is ok to inform the employees about the latest news; however the management tends to skip the problematic parts. There can be various reasons behind this, but the most obvious is the lack of trust. For sure some employees can panic, but most of them are able to process the information and handle it. Who knows, maybe those people are the ones who can give some useful tips even for the management.
  • No-micro-management: this is clearly a no-go. If a manager thinks the employees needs to be micro-managed that suggest some serious issues in trust and self-confidence from the manager’s side. In this fast-paced world how much time does a manager have for micro-management? Not that much and if he/she still tries it that can cause only more stress, anxiety, bad mood and fluctuation amongst the employees.

Of course nothing is perfect, but we can try to do our best by learning from our mistakes and adapting some good examples. What examples would you like your company to adapt?

There are some great books in this topic, my favorite one is Work rules by Laszlo Bock. Enjoy reading!
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Stock photos for free – for real

Recently I was asked to help out a ‘brand new’ startup company with some advice on the website and the usage of social media. This is how we ended up talking about the importance of pictures. Today it is more and more important to use some nice and appealing pictures, videos and maybe gifs on your website or Facebook Page. However if you just start your business, probably you don’t have the resources to pay for Shutterstock.

Still you can find tons of websites providing you with amazing stock pictures for free. Here are some of my favorites, you can find a more detailed list on Entrepreneur.

  1. Picjumbo
  2. Pexels – my new favourite
  3. Pixabay
  4. Gratisography – unique
  5. IMcreator – it helps you to build even a website

Which one is your favorite? Can you recommend one?

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“Like most others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles – a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other – that kept me going.”
Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary

 

 

“Dance,” said the Sheep Man. “Yougottadance. Aslongasthemusicplays. Yougotta dance. Don’teventhinkwhy. Starttothink, yourfeetstop. Yourfeetstop, wegetstuck. Wegetstuck, you’restuck. Sodon’tpayanymind, nomatterhowdumb. Yougottakeepthestep. Yougottalimberup. Yougottaloosenwhatyoubolteddown. Yougottauseallyougot. Weknowyou’re tired, tiredandscared. Happenstoeveryone, okay? Justdon’tletyourfeetstop.”
Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

How to be a good member of a group? Easy: genuinly take care of the others and share the tasks and responsibilities.

Being a part of a group can be an exciting experience. Usually joining to one that has already been established you will meet with set roles and tasks – however, there is always the possibility that the newcomer will cause some sort of changes in the group dynamic – reform the tasks and maybe the leadership settings as well.

But it can be even more interesting to become a part of an entirely new group. New members at the company with unknown potential can cause some surprizes, not just because of their virginity at the company (structures, behaviour, expectations or hierarchy), but the previous expriences that shaped their personality. By mentioning that I mean family background, international relations, employment history or any other observations made by the new members can shape their identity as well as the group’s.

Creating a new group, taking part in it is a very exciting process and at the end if this group has a positive dynamic then some great results can be expected. Let’s hope so. 😉

The expression was first created by Kurt Lewin during the 1930s. He is also known as the “founder of social psychology” – you can read it on Change Mangement Coach. Why do I write about this? Because during our daily life we are taking part in different groups. They can be created by us, because we love to participate in dancing, cooking, hitchhiking or whatever groups.

On the other hand there are some other groups, created by our workplace because of various reasons like there is a project that needs to be done or a function that requires a certain group to work together(HR, marketing, etc.). You can read more about this topic by clicking here, or here: http://goo.gl/za0bt9.

Ethan Hale on fastcompany.com wrote about it as follows. “At MIT’s Human Dynamics laboratory, they identified the group dynamics that high-performing teams share. They include:

  •  Everyone on the team both talks and listens. No one dominates the conversation.
  •  The interactions are energetic with a lot of face-to-face communication.
  •  People connect with one another directly – not just with or through the team leader.
  •  Side conversations are carried on within the team.
  •  People from time to time go outside the group and bring relevant outside information back in.
  •  Individual contributions/talents are less important than successful communication patterns”

So, if the group is not working properly, then some of the most important factors might be missing.

Here you will find the shortlink for Change Management Coach: http://goo.gl/hoIb5H.

 

See the other side

It’s not a secret that I was on a job seek for a while. No, there is no whining, no accusations, because that’s not what it is all about. More likely finding one’s own way.

But what would a recruiter think about our CV if we were so unlucky to accept jobs – despite of our gut feeling – that just turn out not being the best fit for us? For example lots of them would simply trash our CV.

It is as if we would be some unpredictable, unreliable problems in the matrix. Do you think it can be true? No, not really. There was a very good article about this on LinkedIn and Forbes, you can read it here.  Or here: http://goo.gl/AIzskj/

The first sentence is absolutely lovely, “there’s a saying that employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers – and today they are leaving more often than ever.”

Louis Efron reveals some reasons to make the situation more understandable, let’s see them in a nutshell:

  1. No vision – how can you build a successful future without a vision? Clearly profit numbers alone are not too sexy.
  2. No Connection To The Big Picture – no employment engagement
  3. No empathy – don’t mime it, it’s not worth it
  4. No (effective) motivation – Fear of constant criticism, redundancy, or the frequent fluctuation of colleagues aren’t the best ways to motivate, etc.
  5. No future – do you have a career plan? Will the company support you to move either vertically or horizontally?
  6. No fun – that’s quite straightforward. We spend at least 8 hours in the office and our time is more precious now than ever before.

To make the employment a long lasting adventure is both parties responsibilities – nor the employer, neither the employee can do it alone.

However it’s good to know that there are companies that think about these questions differently – at least this is my experience.