Do you feel like cooking cupcakes?
The other day I was looking through the Sitrion website and its mission statement caught my attention – even though I’ve seen it many times before - make work better. I think that anyone would then rightfully ask us how do you know if my work is better; how do you measure that my work has gotten better with your technology?
So I did a little research and the answers I found were quite disrupting because ultimately you cannot measure it. It’s really about a feeling. You can only realize that your work is better the moment you feel that you’re at the right place, doing the right thing with the right people, and nowhere would you feel more committed to do your job. This is the moment when people are happy with their job - but unfortunately it cannot be measured nor quantified so organizations just give up or try to find a “KPI.”
The problem with a KPI is that, first, they are merely indicators, and secondly, they measure performance, not the employee’s well being nor engagement. If challenged about these matters, management would proudly pull-out the slides showing sales going through the roof, production rate increasing, and quality rising, etc.; and from their point of view, their people are working better. Truth is, in many companies people are hardly achieving their targets even after investing a lot of pain and sweat with the hope of gaining their bonuses, and at the first opportunity they have for a better position with a better salary in a competing company, off they go.
How do we define “better work” then?
If we take the example of startups, we sometimes describe them as “crazy people” trying to make a totally “unrealistic project” real. Yet these people are often the most passionate about their jobs and they firmly believe in their mission and goals. These people don’t do it for the money or for the glory; they don’t even know if their company will still be standing in six months’ time. And still they strive hard, burning the midnight oil, often on their own will. They are convinced they are going in the right direction and, most importantly, with the right people. They have a blind trust in each coworker and feel safe in the presence of the group because they care for each other and will readily help each other without expecting anything in return. When workers are engaged in their organization and trust their decision makers, there’s no more room for disturbing internal politics or bureaucracy, they all row in the same direction.
Trust is a Bond
So how do I achieve such an efficient “non-startup” work environment with my enterprise social network and how do I know it’s doing its job to make work better? Well it doesn’t. The work environment depends solely on the organization’s leaders; they set the rules and conditions in which their people will feel safe, engaged, and motivated… or not. These are the feelings that they need to be confident in their skills to achieve great goals, be positive, optimistic, and creative. No one will ever dare talk about new ideas or think out of the box if they know that they’re going to be the target of criticism and cynicism from their own company. Trust is the bond of the manpower that will unite the company and drive it to its goals whatever storms it has to cross.
But these feelings cannot be taught, nor imposed on people and, even less, measured. This is where an enterprise social network is useful because it gives a good grasp of the level and quality of human interactions inside the company. When people are having open discussions on a platform sharing their knowledge, experience, and receiving more help than they would normally expect from a simple asked question, my guess is that these people are having a good time helping their co-workers. They are confident that when they talk about anything in their online department community, they will get replies, interest, and support to help them move forward. They are not thinking about keeping their expertise and ideas to themselves, and taking all the credit for their team’s work only to negotiate a bigger bonus or salary; they want to share everything just like they would do in their own family so that their peers can achieve more for the good of the group. I believe this is the indicator that shows that work in a company is better.
Can I get the recipe?
I’d like to share a personal experience of a company I worked with as a consultant. First thing in the morning, I arrived welcomed by a large Tupperware of freshly-baked cupcakes on a table in the middle of an open space where people were standing around sharing the recipe because one of the employees made the cupcakes himself. It was at the moment when I felt like we are going to do the same thing every week. And even though I’m awful at baking, I knew I was going to spend a whole weekend cooking up a couple of tasteless cupcakes because I wanted to show everyone that I am part of this great family so I gave it my best shot.
Now the question is, do you feel like cooking cupcakes for your colleagues?