Criticism is good for competitiveness!

Unfortunately, criticism is still not being totally recognized as a powerful tool on helping people, and companies, being more competitive. In times of tight competition and a world that moves at an incredible fast pace, every single tool that can help people, and companies, becoming better prepared for the challenges ahead should be taken into account. And what I am saying here is that criticism, as part of evaluation, is a tool that due to its easiness of use and low need for investment can be highly interesting to SMEs, but not only. Every company interested in gaining competitiveness should invest in human resources, and evaluation (assess competences, criticism and feedback) is a good way of doing it. Well, I must say that only positive criticism is relevant, and that evaluation should be based on factual aspects and real past events, rather than subjective and judgmental aspects. An evaluating system should be based on face-to-face evaluation and 360º assessments, and can be done through formal and informal mechanisms. I believe that even if you do not have a formal evaluation system put in place but you understand the value of having people evaluated, you should start doing it.

What are the key aspects to pay attention to while evaluating? First, define what to aspects must be evaluated and how; Second, define how many times a year and by whom should the team be evaluated; Third, decide what kind of feedback you want to give, when and by whom (do not skip this step because it is key to the whole process); Lastly, inform people of what is the goal, and coach the evaluators on how they should do it. Criticism and feedback are highly important and should contain the future goals to be achieved by each individual.

Evaluation can act as a positive factor to increase motivation and improve competences!

Can Team Spirit Be a Competitive Advantage?

In a world that is changing fast and facing amazing challenges, namely a war for talent or globalization, Team Spirit can work as a Competitive Advantage! I am one of those people that believes that having a strong and engaged team can make the difference. So, I prefer to have a team committed to a common goal, and working together, than a group of amazing stars working individually. When choosing your team members, what kind of people would you like to have? I know that a lot of aspects must be equated before going on choosing members for your team. Nevertheless, I believe that to build a real Team, one needs to have people who are able, and willing, to work above their egos, individual agendas, and anything that inhibits a truly open and sharing environment. I am not saying that you should not have the best of the best (stars) in your teams, or that stars are not able to work as truly team members. What I am saying is that having a team it is much more than having a group of stars. And that team spirit can work as a competitive advantage, helping companies being the leaders of their industries or niches.

In order to ignites team spirit it is important to have a corporate culture that enables openness, sharing, cooperation, recognition, and motivation. Although all of these aspects are important, motivation is specially important to create the right environment and conditions, and contrary to what is believed, it is not only about money! Several studies mention that above a certain wage level, motivation is mainly about challenge, recognition, opportunity to master, ability to share, work-life balance, autonomy and responsibility, rather than cash prizes and bonus. Therefore, I believe that team spirit and corporate culture can have also positive effect on motivation levels.

Having the right people it is not enough, a “head” is needed to coordinate and motivate them. Hence, companies must have more than just talented people with team spirit, they must have a leader to shape them into a team. Stir people toward a common goal and to excel it is not easy but is crucial. If companies do not have the right Leader, they are missing a strong source of competitive advantages, team work.

How many times haven’t your boss asked you: “Hmm, this team of yours is not working! How about changing it?”. Only a couple of months after you have started working with them? Too many, right? Practice it is the last ingredient I would like to mention. By practice I mean routine, time working together, and experience. In order to have the best out of a team time is needed, time to experience, to adapt, to learn how members work, think and behave. Like a sports team, a team needs hours working together to reach their best.

Summing up, Team Spirit can be a competitive advantage! In times of war for talent and highly competitive markets companies cannot forget to keep investing on having people working together. and the why is easy, Teams work better and achieve more than individuals. A company with a culture that stimulates team spirit, people performing at their best and to master, to share and cooperate, are much better prepared to face successfully the 21st century. Although Team Work and motivation are linked and must be seen as the two faces of the same coin, it does not suffice. A company needs to have a corporate culture that helps cooperation and openness, and Leaders to ignite the right behaviors. Last, but not least, “practice” must be also present in order to have a team working at their best and creating real competitive advantages! Teams need time to work together and fine tune internal dynamics.

Vision, Strategy and Implementation! How About People?

Along my life I have seen a lot of awkward things! But the worst was to see a company with no strategy and a leader without vision! How can a business survive if it has no vision? A simple dream to be accomplished or a line in the horizon to be pursuit ? How can one survive without goals and objectives? Well, unfortunately a lot of companies do the same mistake over and over! First, they don’t have a vision; Second, they don’t have a strategy because they don’t have a vision; And, third, they hire a manager to manage a company with no vision nor strategy. what kind of people can they hire? A no-leader for sure, because no leader would accept a challenge when the company has no vision nor strategy. The only case where I can see a leader accepting this challenging is the case where she has a mandate to change it! Develop a vision and design a strategy! Although you have a vision and a strategy, you are still missing the last part of it, a plan to implement it! Again, I have seen a lot of companies ruining their positioning due to a wrong implementation plan! Easily one can say that to have the right start up base you need a vision, a strategy and an implementation plan! Obviously that you can have all of this and still fail, so another key ingredient is people! Talented people, high potential people, committed people, motivated people, creative people, innovative people…Well, I think you understood my viewpoint here. I know that the idea of having a triangle is much more sexy than a square though, here we are dealing with a square! Vision, Strategy, Implementation & People: a square that gives a company a truly opportunity to succeed! Nevertheless, don’t forget that people must be led and motivated, and that not only the vision, strategy and implementation are important!

An amazing Japanese old saying says: “Vision without Action is a daydream, but Action without Vision is a nightmare” and I would like to add: Vision and Action without people are Impossible! People Management is key to win the challenges ahead!

Stop the routine before the routine stops you!

Why repeating old routines or play the old same “game” until exhaustion? Why not try out different stuff? Why not try different stuff out? I don’t believe people haven’t understood yet how crucial it is to stop routine! How can one be creative if is still doing the same things over and over without having the guts or time, or whatever is the excuse to try new things out?

A while ago I wrote  – I like stress and you? – about being prepared for stressful and tough situation! And, How going outside of one’s comfort zone can be helpful on preparing you for future situations!  Now I am saying: try out new things as a way of improving your creativity and innovative abilities! I know, I know, sometimes it is not easy! You do not have the time, or the mental availability, or your are too stressed with your deadlines! OK, I understand! However, find a way to free up time to do it because it will help you out. Start with easy things like a new restaurant instead of the regular one; Or, go to a different gym and try different classes; Go to a new bar and try a new drink; Go shopping in a new neighborhood; Walk home by a different route; Listen to a different radio station in your way home; Read a book that you have never thought about; Easy, isn’t it? I like to call this the Lab Routines! You use a routine situation to try out something new and enjoy different sensations and emotions! Ah, and never forget to write down your experience in order to maximize what you can take out of it! The Lab Routines can bring something consciously or unconsciously to your mind! I have seen and experienced myself a lot of different situations: an emotion that unlocked a solution to a problem; an extraordinary idea that pop up on your mind; a visual detail that you can use; or simply a good time that helped you relaxing and being more focused on the following day. So, as you can see it can work in different ways but always with impact on you and your creativity and ability to innovate! If you want to be competitive in this highly challenging century please stimulate your creativity and ability to innovate, and never forget to develop your uniqueness! Please, be yourself! Routine kills the creativity and innovation!

A Premature Generational Gap! Can You Feel It?

On the other day I came across with an amazing cartoon, by Mashable Comics, where a guy says to another “…you kids today, with your “cloud computers” and “Google Docs”…In my days, we attached files to our Emails, and we liked it that way.” And the other replys, “Dave, you are like two years older than me”. This is a behavior that you can assist more and more within companies or even among friends. Can we call it Generational Gap? Yes, though, there is a difference between the Generational Gap from the 1960s, between a child and he’s parents generation, and what we have been assisting, happening mainly between people born in the same generation. Today’s world is faster than ever, and even if you are only a couple of years older you can feel a kind of “generational gap”. This Gap is normally boosted by technology and innovation, and have a broad and deep impact in one’s life. I believe that a lot of people is feeling, or have already felt, something similar to this. I must confess that my first time was back in the 90s when the computers start to be King. Obviously, a lot have changed but the feeling is still the same, a sour taste of falling behind! The problem today is that even if you try to cope with this fast changing, you can easily feel the same way!

How can one face this? And better, how can one overcome this? Everything moves fast, it is difficult to keep up with everything happening so fast around us. And even if you put a lot of effort on do it, you will quickly find out that you are not succeeding! That way, I would go for a better prepared mentality to face the negativity of the falling-behind feeling. Therefore, I strongly believe that better than fighting back or feel demotivated, one should instead acknowledge this new reality and stay focused. I must say that a future-oriented mind would be helpful, and this should probably start with: first, be aware of one’s limitation; second, be willing to continuously learn; and third, keep an open minded regarding novelties. Why? Well, this new century is more demanding on knowledge and asks for an along-life-learning mentality. A faster world is demanding for an open-mind orientation, and an educational system that teaches more about how to learn than on what to know. Although there is no right or wrong solution, it is really important to face this trend with humbleness, open-mind orientation, and willingness to learn in a different and continuously way. In a word, Change is needed and is part of the solution. Let’s win this Generational Gap challenge through the willingness to Change!   

Words For Starters!

Motivation is a trendy subject nowadays! You open your Email or go for your Tweeter and is every where. Though, I believe that motivation is much more than a price on top of your salary or a firm party if the profits are up. Motivation should be in the company’s Cultural DNA, built in the company’s vision. Motivation should be felt in everyday routines, able to influence moods, or keep UP the performance. It can simply start with a word, a word to let your people know how important they are to the company and how important their thoughts and ideas are. However, instead of having their people thinking and innovating, a lot of companies still want to have them following orders and rules, like robots. Commonly we assist to companies behaving as owners of their employees, forcing them to do everything by the book with zero of spontaneity. You know what? These companies are done! There is no space for companies who lead people with in a short leash. Why? Because these companies are killing innovation and creativity, they are not future oriented, and they just want to be on the safe side of the business. Guess what? There is no safe side anymore! The today’s business world does not have compassion for those who does not want to take risks or be different. Being on the safe side and do not allow employees to think, be innovative or creative is saying you are already out of the business.

Lately, I have been writing and thinking about things that we are not used to face as competitiveness factors like happiness, sense of humor or motivation. In How can happiness be a Competitive Advantage?, I mention happiness as a competitive advantage to a business, and in Sense of Humor Keeps The Bankruptcy Away, I speak about sense of humor can keep bankruptcy away. Now, I am saying out load that motivation can help a company being stronger and more prepared for future challenges. I am also saying that a word can be a good commencement, mainly for those who are more reluctant in giving up on control and let more creativity in. 

Some questions you should ask yourself to diagnose what kind of leader you are. Is motivation key to your company’s goals and to achieve your vision? Have your team a crystal and clear view on the company’s vision? Do you allow your team to think? Do you give them time and space to come up with their own ideas? Well, If your answers are NO, then you should think about the whys on the NOs! How about starting with a word? A word of motivation when your people do well and also a word of motivation when they do less well! Motivation can be a good commencement and a strong base for you to shift from a controlling leadership style to a more delegating one, something with more autonomy and flexibility in it! If you are not too sure about it or how to do it, start with small steps, but please do something or you will not be in business any much longer!

How can happiness be a Competitive Advantage?

How can happiness help you, and your business, being more competitive? Can happiness be considered as a competitive advantage? 

Yes is my answer to both questions! Nowadays almost all the companies have discovered the power of operational efficiency and how key a good sourcing can be. And for those who haven’t discovered this yet watch out because you are probably in a very bad shape! Having this said, the companies willing to be leaders or competitive players must pay attention to other aspects like uniqueness, creativity, innovation and social responsibility. I know that these are all different and powerful aspects, though they all have something in common! If you want to have these key inside your company you need to quest for them and have the right (happy) people working with you! Well, I know! Now you are saying: oh yes, but how? I know, I know, it is not easy, and I am not able to give you the right path to achieve it, and I doubt that such a path exists. However, If you are happy doing what you are doing, and surrounded by people who are also happy with what they are doing, you are on the right track! Obviously that happiness is a flow, with ups and downs, and not a constant! However, you can say that you are happy with what you are doing even if you want to do more and differently due to your ambition to be better or mastery on something! Happiness propels people to be creative and innovative, obviously that they need some autonomy and flexibility to do that!

The tricky question here is to know, how can you keep people and yourself happy and motivated? I foresee happiness as a key competitive advantage in a very near future! A future where you need more and more to differentiate, innovate, create uniqueness and have social responsibility! Something that your “audience” is eager to have, and willing to build a community of followers and evangelists around it. These communities foresee high value on what a brand is doing and want to collaborate with it, helping with new advancements and improvements! The future is collaboration, sharing, and leverage on your uniqueness to help others. But you only do that if you are happy with what you are and do, and if you have your basic and some complementary needs covered! In other words, if you have enough money to live without thinking about how to pay your bills in the end of every single month! And that your company or the companies you buy from are also focused on being fair, helping others and collaborate on the global development!

Happiness is a key competitive advantage and the only way to development!