Before that, I had been enjoying working in the field of human resource management for more than 13 years and experienced quite diverse employee management practices.
From employers who were systematically building the environment of absenteeism and presenteeism which inevitably resulted in actively non-engaged employees (such employers then might’ve asked themselves what was wrong with employees who kept leaving), to employers who were increasingly aware of the importance of the pretty hackneyed phrase saying that the »employees are our greatest assets« and who were actually taking action towards greater engagement of employees. We should also not forget about employers who tried their best to publically point out the importance of their employees, however, the reality behind the walls was unfortunately pretty grim.
So I was quite curious; how is this issue handled at Agilcon? Since my previous work with clients included participation in projects to raise the level of engagement my »radars« were even more prepared to detect seemingly meaningless details.
In my everyday work with clients I detect a lot of confusion about what it means to be a satisfied, engaged or committed employee, let alone about how to create an appropriate working environment. At this point, I believe that it would be appropriate to spend some time to clarify these terms.
1. Satisfaction at work is simply what people feel during the performance of their work and about various aspects of their work. It is the matter of how much they like (satisfaction) or dislike (dissatisfaction) their work. We are talking about a pleasant or positive emotional state resulting from the evaluation of someone’s work and work experiences.
2. Commitment can be identified as individual’s expressed emotion of:
- belonging to the organization and team,
- wanting to help his colleagues within the organization,
- supporting his leader,
- acting in accordance with work ethics and professionalism,
- being committed to collective good,
- not leaving the organization in case of crisis,
- being honoured to perform his work,
- spreading the good reputation of the company and similar emotions.
3. Engagement is a state of emotional and intellectual satisfaction and commitment which starts with satisfaction (how I like things here) and commitment (how much I want to be here) and ends with engagement (how much I want to be here and how much can I actually do to improve work results).
Is it possible that there are work environments where employees are just satisfied? Of course. Are such companies successful? Certainly not in a long term.
A satisfied employee can be someone who does not work a lot, someone who takes extremely long lunch and coffee breaks, someone who can perform his secondary activity during his working hours because of the distribution of work among colleagues, etc. In other words, reasons for employee satisfaction are not always related to the objectives of the company. A satisfied employee is not necessarily also successful, efficient, creative, innovative, flexible, persistent, engaged, etc. Employee satisfaction is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for the success of companies.
We have determined that successful companies increase their competitive advantage with engaged employees. These companies can be 50% more productive and experience greater increase in revenues and profitability.
We can build engagement in three very simple “steps” which are often difficult in practice. These steps include:
In this blog we shall take a closer look at Relationships.
6 steps to building realitonships at Agilcon
Employees and leaders at Agilcon provide generous assistance. When I entered the IT world, there were many IT words and expressions I did not understand or even heard of. Because I had to quickly join a project I was genuinely grateful for all the help which gave me the feeling that there was someone (i.e. team leader, our management and colleagues) “watching my back”.
At Agilcon, trust is built with the awareness that the employees observe their leaders and their behaviour and make their own opinion about them. If the leader lacks integrity and if there is a gap between the values he defends and his actual actions, it will be hard for him to maintain the trust. Employees trust you if you practice what you preach. Every week, our CEO presents business-related novelties and potential clients and pays special attention to transparent decision-making and communication of such decisions. Employees actually feel that we are treated with “good intentions” and in a fair and respectful manner. We are especially aware that there is always someone there to assist us.
2. Emotional Intelligence
Awareness of the emotions and the ability of emotion management (own or colleague’s emotions) is of crucial importance for the establishment of relationships. For a person who is not good at detecting and understanding own emotions (anger, envy, confusion, etc.) and who is not willing to improve (learning and development starts at oneself!), it will be difficult to feel empathy and even more difficult to use his emotions for positive purposes – for more meaningful, pleasurable and productive work.
At Agilcon we constantly promote personal development. For this purpose we have at our disposal a library with literature on personal and professional development as well as various programmes for acquisition of professional certificates. Our leaders are certainly the greatest examples and they’re regularly promoting good books and discretely promote our personal development. High level of sensitivity can also be detected in the context of employee management in terms of detecting the needs and emotions of colleagues as well as in terms of open communication and encouragement of employees to clearly express their emotions, thoughts, needs or frustrations. However, it is especially important that you feel that you are not alone and that we will join forces and help each other if problems occur.
3. Positive attitude
I am certain that everybody knows someone in his community who looks at the world positively and someone who looks at the world negatively in accordance with the principle “everything is bad and it will only get worse”. A person who looks at the glass as half-empty will also spread bad mood and break the good atmosphere as the leader or a colleague. It will be difficult for him to motivate his colleagues, particularly when he will have to present an especially negative situation in a positive light.
Work environment at Agilcon is genuinely pleasant and positive. I often notice our managers walking and talking with colleagues addressing even the unpleasant issues with a smile on their faces. Their attitude is extremely positive, humorous and easy to catch. Our communication therefore takes place in a relaxed but nevertheless responsible manner. However, difficult and tense situations also occur when it is impossible to arrange everything in a timely and substantive manner, and in the end you always have to decide whether you will treat others in a positive or negative manner and whether you will have a positive response to even the most negative situation or respond in panic, etc. If you are a part of Agilcon, the decision is obvious.
To be fair as the leader at Agilcon means that:
- the leader is able to clearly present and set his expectations;
- the leader is a positive person who helps you with your development;
- the leader treats employees in accordance with their efficiency.
In work environment, fairness does not mean that the leader has to treat everyone the same because employees differ from each other in terms of efficiency at work. We are certainly exposed to the same working conditions, clear expectations, instructions, transparent decisions, etc. We are all the same that way. If a colleague truly engages himself, develops his skills and achieves results, he will progress faster than the colleague who is just getting familiar with the work. We are not equal in this regard and it is in this context that we are improving the understanding of fairness in our company.
5. Assurance of Autonomy
What is our level of autonomy at work at Agilcon? Regardless of whether we are talking about a colleague who is still getting familiar with the work or more independent senior worker, it is expected from all to cultivate autonomy. It is obvious that a person who is still getting familiar with the work requires a mentor and a “buddy” who will stand by his side and help him develop into an independent worker. In any case, we are directing “fresh” colleagues to become as autonomous as possible. Generally speaking, Agilcon is not an environment where workers are exposed to constant control by superiors or where workers would not be allowed to think for themselves. Quite the contrary. We are creating an environment where independent thinking, ideas, suggestions, and the sense of mastery over tasks are welcome, and an environment where we dare to push our limits. To be innovative. Team leaders and heads of various areas do not keep a vigilant eye on colleagues like some sort of a “Big brother” but support and direct them, which allows employees to be more relaxed and to show their potential.
Consequently, employees feel better and identify themselves with the work as their property, which increases the sense of responsibility and purpose of the work they perform. This feeling is truly amazing. To give meaning to the work you perform. The company is consequently much more competitive and successful. And the turnover rate is very small.
6. Publication of Success, Team Achievements
Regardless of the type of achievement, whether we are talking about an individually acquired professional certificate, regular education or successfully implemented project, these are all achievements we regularly communicate and celebrate. Weekly panel discussions and pancake parties are perfect occasions to mark individual or group achievements. In this way we are strengthening our most effective reward programme (i.e. Thank you), team spirit and culture of cooperation.
Is there any room for improvement? Certainly. Relationship building is a never-ending quest. We constantly need to ask ourselves whether we do enough to be a trustworthy partner/employer, whether we could react more positively next time, whether we could grant even more autonomy to the employee in the following projects, etc. In the last year alone, 14 new persons, personalities, and fresh ideas, etc. joined Agilcon. We’re still hiring and we are constantly facing challenges. If we are aware that relationship building starts before the first formal day of joining our family it is obvious that we will not run out of interesting work.