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Posts Tagged ‘community

Freelance, a stronger collaborative work relationship?

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Team ConceptIn many areas of business activities, companies are contracting freelancer’s services. In a fast changing environment, where punctual and specific competences are needed for specific projects, freelance contractors represent a more appropriate solution. One of the differences with an employee is the nature of relationship between the company and the contractor. The employer-employee relationship is a subordination relationship, while the relationship between a company, here the customer, and the contractor is a collaboration relationship.

When you ask to freelancer what they appreciate in this way to work, they often mention the fact that their work is much more appreciated and that the positive feedback of the customer has much more value than the feedback of an employer. Why? The appreciation of an employer can be motivated by some political games. Some bad managers, lacking of leadership, appreciates people who are not too ambitious, only doing they work as usual. Some people feel that such positive feedback does not ring as sincere.

A real freelancer minded has no hidden agenda. When he is working on an assignment, the goal is to achieve what the customer defined within the fixed deadlines, and not to have a permanent position in the company. This means that regularly, the freelancer has to look for new opportunities, and he has to show capacities and proven records in order to catch these opportunities. Such situation, as each worker today, implies that he has to be up-to-date in terms of knowledge and competences, to be able to offer innovative solutions and a high level of added-valued services. In other words, he has to learn on an ongoing way.

Organizations are groups of people, having specific and complementary competences, working together on projects. These collaboration relationships imply knowledge sharing. We talk here about collective intelligence.  The complexity of processes, the development of technology makes that we have to learn more, faster, on an ongoing way, and sharing knowledge with colleagues is clearly a win-win process. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon that relationships between employees are conducted by competition spirit, not favoring the sharing of knowledge and collaboration, and particularly within companies facing restructuring times.  As freelancer, you are assigned on a project for a limited period, and your interest is to provide quality, but also to share and acquire knowledge.  You are not in this sphere of competition and your goal is not to have a fix job, but your goal is to prepare the next assignment, the next project. By working with partners, with customers who are aware about the benefits of collective intelligence, you can create a sphere of motivation and stronger collaborations, where each member of the team can acquire tools to face new challenges, to get better opportunities.

Collective intelligence is clearly an advantage in professional relationship.  It is an asset for people within an organization who have to reach a common goal. It is not forbidden to think about the fact that freelancer community is more favoring this concept in his way to work. Collaborative intelligence makes that people are building communities where everybody gets stronger, acquires more knowledge and competences that represent the only career security. Let us think about that knowledge what is not shared has no value. Collaboration is much more interesting than competition. The only healthy competition is the one with ourselves, in order to build more ambitious projects and reach higher goals.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

November 28, 2014 at 07:28

Non-profit organizations, an added value for the society.

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In our society where economy is an important component creating wealth, I often heard critics about the non-profit organizations and associations. People are wondering if the subsides these organizations are receiving are correctly used. In other words, people are wondering if the institutions which do not create economical wealth, are not a charge for the society, and if there are useful. It is of course a pertinent question and people have the right to know how the taxes there are paying are used. People have the feeling that the taxes they are paying are not correctly used, but does it mean that non-profit activities are useless for the society? It should be a quick and wrong conclusion.

Non-profit organizations and associations, in different sectors, cultural or social are playing an important role in the society. We can see different interesting aspects of this sector of activity, but there are also conditions that need to be filled and which are filled in a lot of cases, making that people can have the feeling that their money is correctly used. What are these conditions?

  • Selection of project and the benefit they will produce: there are several needs to be covered in the society, needs that the private sector is not covering because there is no link with their activity and because the final goal is not the profitability. A detailed presentation and activity plan, and determined goals need to be presented in order to see what are the positive effects on economical, social and local level. The allocation of subsides need to be voted by a committee including independent members.
  • Project management and competences: non-profit organizations and associations are non-profit enterprises. It means that they have to face several challenges and issues on financial, legal and organizational level. In order to reach the goals on an efficient way with the allocated funds, some skills and competences are needed. As investing time myself in non-profit associations, I often see some lacks in term of competences, which has a negative impact in term of sustainability.

  • Concrete results: The associations launching projects have to produce concrete results, to justify the allocated amounts. They have the obligation to show the return on invested amounts, not on an economical point of view, but on social, educational, environmental level, depending of the scope of the project.

  • Financial sustainability: The allocated funds have to be spent correctly and each association has to implement controlling process in order to maintain the finance in break even. By creating debts and not paying contractors or employees, you do not reach the social goal of such organization. This is in my mind the weakness of some associations. The goal of a non-profit organization is not to make profit, as the name is saying, but it does not mean that the financial management is useless. I often see projects failure due to lack of management, with negative consequences.

These are some conditions needed to ensure that subsides are usefully allocated to projects. The quality of a project can be measured by the provided benefits. These benefits can be found on different levels, and make that non-profit activities are complementary of the economy. What are the benefits?

  • A positive contribution for the society: the associations are covering a range of services to the society, services not ensured by the private sector. It goes from social or medical services for aged people, for people facing temporary difficulties, also services in the education giving an access to knowledge and culture for everybody.

  • Local employment: this sector is creating local employment. Employment is a important key of social integration.

  • Local economical benefits: these associations are using local services. There are in fact a vector of wealth redistribution, as the allocated subsides have to be spent. The money they are receiving do not remain blocked and sleeping on bank accounts. It has a positive impact on local economy.

  • Personal positive effects: Some non-profit organization and associations are working with volunteers. Some studies show that people having a volunteer activity are in a better psychological and physical health. As mentioned, age is a question of mind. It is not because you reach a certain age that you are unable to contribute to a project, that you are unable to have activities. The fact to contribute to the community, empower the feeling to be useful and the feeling of social integration. We can see also a positive effect and cost reduction for the social security. If people are going well, they need less medical services. Globally, and as already mentioned in other postings on this blog, people need to have a project, to face challenges. The gained successes are an important factor of self- trust and wellness. Such activities have to be recognized, and encouraged. People should be encouraged to do an activity with the rhythm it agreed to them.
  • Social and educational benefits for the community: some social activities, related to education, are contributing positively to a better social and public environment. For instance, structures taking care of the children during holidays or when they are coming back from school and when the parents are still at work. These structures where animators are helping them to do the schoolwork, or by organizing games or activities, avoid these children to stay in the street, abandoned to the boredom, and avoid them to go to delinquency.

By mentioning these points, I tried to show that non-profit organizations and associations have a positive function in the society, on social and economical level. They have to be seen as a complementary activity of the economical activity. Do not forget that the economy is providing taxable wealth and that of course, without a strong economical activity, the public and associative world can not work. It is a question of balance, where each actor has to play the game, by respecting rules and with transparency, where initiatives have to be encouraged and supported.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

March 28, 2011 at 07:19

When and where do the change begin?

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I was reading recently, this quote from Jack Welch, “Change before you have to”. But most of the time, we notice that people are reluctant to change, and on the other hand, people are claiming when nothing change. How to explain such paradox?

Change is first a question of perception. How can we perceive some changes, some trends coming slowly? If you have a look to a tree in your garden every day, you will probably not see that this tree is growing, but if you are looking to it three months later, you will notice that he grew. The tree grew, but you noticed it suddenly. The perception of change is a shock, it happen suddenly.

Is it because the change is not perceived that people don’t want to change, or because they are scared about change? People only allow to change if they perceive the need to change or perceive the change as an opportunity. If they have no choice or other alternative to a situation, they will be motivated to change. For instance, the development of information technologies has a huge impact in our professional and personal life. Some people are more reluctant than others to use them, because they found this difficult. But at a certain time, they will be obliged to use them, and will probably find this marvelous. Just think how we can communicate over the world via Internet and e-mail, when before you have to send postal mail without to be sure that your correspondent will receive your letter.

Change implies also education. By education, we can understand more things, and perceive the needs of change. By understanding the needs of changes and the consequences of changes, we avoid fear. But by education, people can be concerned by changes and take appropriate actions to face changes. Let us take for example the problem of environment. Scientific studies show that if all the people around the world have to live following the same standards than people in the western countries, we would need three time the natural resources the heart is producing. Each people should contribute to reduce the consumption of resources by changing some habits. Could we obliged people to change their way of live without attempting to their freedom? It is difficult of course, but the people who does not change their habits cannot obliged other people to change their way of life.

Change implies that we have first to admit that we are the actors of our own life, and the actors of the world where we are living. We can not always expect the change from other people. We have to admit too that we have to share the environment where we are living with other people, and that we have to make choices, respectable for the community. It implies that we have to take decisions and responsibilities.

Change implies to break our habits, to break the routine. This change of habits requests some effort. But people are scared to make these efforts, because they are not self confident, things seem to hem impossible to realize. How can we take such conclusions, if we do not try something else, to do things on another way? As for many things, we have first to start with the beginning, to do simple things. Before to climb the Everest, try first to climb on a chair ! Before to have some bias about changes, let’s try first some small changes. Somebody who have a Phd in mathematics had first to study basics of arithmetics. He had to learn and to understand ranges of theorems, of mathematical demonstrations. Step by step, he acquired and expanded his knowledge in mathematics. Like a house you are building by putting stones one after the other.

Can we adapt ourselves to change? Yes, we can do it gradually. As I mentioned before, you can used to accept changes step by step. It requires always an effort to adopt changes, because we have to change our habits. Change is like every exercise; when you are used to it, when you have integrated it, then it is more easy to change, and small changes make place to bigger changes. By changing things in your life, you become more self confident, we are more flexible and adaptable, and we expand our chance to face new challenges and opportunities.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

March 2, 2011 at 21:07

Act as an actor for your career and for the community.

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Actor of your own career and of the community

Recently, I read an article about the lack of doctors in Belgium. In Belgium there is a numerus closus in the universities for medicine studies. Only a limited number of graduated doctors can exercise the profession. This could explain the lack of doctors Belgium has to face. But Jacques de Toeuf, doctor and former president of ABSym (Association belge des syndicats médicaux) has not the same opinion about the problem. Based on statistics, he mentions that there are enough graduated doctors in Belgium compared to the number of beds in hospitals, but the problem is that some of then does not want to work in hospital, does not want to ensure permanencies during the week end, taking care more about quality of their own life instead of the quality of life of patients. And Jacques de Toeuf is wondering if these people, only visiting three of four patients per day, are still able after a couple of year to diagnose deceases, if they still have the competence to do their job correctly. As he mentions, medicine is not the same as to sale “tupperwares”. You do not do it when you want.

By reading this, there are two questions to be asked. What are the values we dedicate to work? Work is, most of the time, considered as a constraint. Some people are doing a job because “they have to work to earn money”, waiting the week end, the end of the month to receive the cheque, the holidays, the retirement, ..the death? In a previous posting, I already talk about the importance to choose the job you want to do, the job you are convinced by. If you are convinced by what you are doing, life will be much more exciting, and you will be able to give the best of what you can do. The motivation is an essential condition to stay on the top of competences. In a fast moving environment, you have to maintain and improve your skills everyday, it takes time, but this time has to be considered as an investment, a essential condition to ensure you a sustainable career. If you do not improve your skills, your knowledge, you will come shortly to incompetence, and the chance to find another job will be thin.This is why to do the job of your dream is so important, and is probably the only good reason to do it. As said Confusius: “Do the work you like to do and you will never have to work during your life”.

What I mentioned before is related to the private sphere. But there is another important question and value, needed to be considered, it is your function in the community. Each of us, through the job we are doing, we have a mission, we have to contribute to the community. If you are responsible for customer service in a company, you will take care that everybody could benefit of a good service. If you are a doctor, you will do what you can do in order to save your patients. We have to consider we are playing a role for the community, and this implies the notions of responsibility, respect and commitment. A doctor has the obligation to do all what he can do to save a life. If he has a conscience, he is aware about his duties, and will not try to escape to it. I am used to say that there are constraints in each job. You are free to choose the job you want to do, but remember that the only existing freedom is the one to choose your constraints.

Commitment to act for the community is a value having to be part of our professional choice. Commitment means to have respect for the others. This means that we have to play as an actor for the community, but we have to be first the actor of our own life, our own career. It is only if you try to build a project for yourself that you will contribute to build projects for the other, with efficiency and concrete results. By doing the job you like to do, your working hours are an investment and not a loss of time, and as each investment, you will have a return on it. If you are a doctor, and if you take care about your patients, then they will recognize your talents, and will probably recommend you to other people. Be an actor of your career, of your life and for the community.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 22, 2010 at 20:26