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Posts Tagged ‘productivity

Seniority is an asset

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Seniors workersAs many other criteria like race, gender, or social level, seniority is often an element of discrimination. When companies are operating restructuring processes, it is often the seniors who are fired. Most of the time, there are considered as a cost for the company, and less productive than the youngest. It is a short term vision, and a purely financial logic that doesn’t care about the quality level of work provided by people.

Productivity and creativity are not a question of age. It is a question of mind. Some people are always in a learning mode. In an ongoing changing world, they live with their time and consider learning new things as new opportunities. The key of such way of life is motivation. As far as you define and attribute goals matching with people competences, experience and expectations, you can only have motivated people who will give the best of themselves.

Experience and knowledge are advantages of seniority, as far as you learn from them. Experience means that you are doing mistakes. As far as you are aware and learn from your mistakes, it is an asset that completes your knowledge base and allows you to anticipate similar situations in future projects.

I remember a collaborator at a customer who was nearly 64 years old. As financial guy, he was computer literate and had among other things a high level of database management knowledge. But to reach such level of knowledge is not done overnight. It was the result of hours and hours of self-training and experimentation. He had probably a good salary as a senior, but how can we evaluate a salary if you don’t take into account the level of productivity and creativity. With his database knowledge, my colleague creates applications to do the job of one day in 30 minutes, and providing more information and more accurate.  So, when companies are looking for gains of productivity, is age the right criteria of people selection without considering experience and knowledge? I don’t think so.

Another example: few years ago, I met a woman during an entrepreneur week-end. When she went on retirement, she decided to do her first steps with computers and to discover internet.  After few time, she followed a special training in order to audit websites about their accessibility for people having problems of vision. She built a strong community on the web and is attending co-working places.  Here again, the acquired competences are not a question of age but a question of mind.

Of course, in a fast and ongoing changing world, seniors like youngest must question themselves.  Seniors who worked on several projects and assignments acquired a lot of experience. But what is important is the capacity to perceive the changes of the environment and to transpose their experience into a new context.  Experience does not mean that seniors reach a summit where they know everything and have answers to each challenge and problems.  Seniors have experience, and youngest people have new visions about the future of business, of society. What is interesting is the combination of senior experience and young people visions that can lead to creating innovative processes.

Seniors can be an asset for organization as long as they consider that age is not a criteria to stop to learn and to progress. They are an asset if they are aware about their potential and if they see changes as opportunities that can enrich their personal journey. They are also an asset if they share experience, knowledge and journey with juniors. Transmission is probably a key role they can play in favor of young generations. The conditions to value seniority are first that seniors themselves have always a project and don’t see age as a barrier, and secondly that their value is recognized as an asset. This implies a long term vision. As this African proverb says: “Along we go faster, together we go further”.


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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 10, 2018 at 06:42

Reinvent ourselves.

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Confiance et douteRecently, I was listening to the news on the radio, about the employment market. My country like probably others has to face with a lack of talents. Indeed, despite the fact that the unemployment level amounted around 12%, there are available jobs that can be filled due to a mismatching between the requested skills and competences, and the available talent on the market. Mismatching, but also lack of talents on the market. These last decades, the market and the related needs is changing faster, and the talents need to follow the same evolution. But this in theory, but practically, the gap remains.

The economical environment has a huge impact on the work market and on the career evolution.  It was not unusual to have people having the same position during a big part of their career, with an indexed salary each year.  And it was not impossible to see young people starting their career, earning a lower salary to do the same job.  Such situation today is not sustainable anymore for companies.  The competition is always harder and each invested penny has to provide a good return, not only in term of financial return, but also in term of quality, productivity and growth.

Does it mean that for seniors, the chances to find a job are low, because they are too old? I don’t believe so, but it is obvious that today, you cannot just do the same job all your life. There are always possibilities, and the acquired experience is an asset you have to use for future challenges. Such evolution implies an appropriate evolution in your career. Such evolution is an asset for companies and organizations, but is also positive for people.  This career evolution implies a permanent education, a permanent acquisition process of new competences and skills. The combination of new skills and your experience is a useful innovation tool, and innovation is an essential key to develop successful and sustainable organizations. Definitively, these are people who make the organizations.

The development of the organizations and the technologies create specific needs, niches of specific competences. To fill these needs, we need talent. Talent means people with specific and added value skills, but also with strong experiences.  Here is a major point, the specificity of what you can deliver to the organization. What will be your difference criteria, and what will be the factor making that people will work with you and not with another?  To be able to answer to that need, you need to see a matching between the needs and trends of the market, and your acquired skills, but also with complementary skills you could acquire.  For instance, people working in finance and accounting departments offers financial services, but combining this with strong IT skills, they can build powerful tools and deliver added valued solutions for the organization. This combination of skills will make you as unique.  The added value provided by such combination of skills is higher than the sum of each skill.

By growing your skills and capacities, you give you the chance to open new doors to new opportunities.  And each opportunity gives you the chance to learn new things, to live new experiences.  Such process is successful if it is initiated and driven by passion. Passion and talent will make that you will offer the best of yourself, and in the mean time you will convince people to contract your services, your talent.  By subscribing to such process, you will certainly meet success, but it will impact positively your wellness and self confidence. The feeling to be useful and to still have an active place in the society has a positive impact on your physical and psychological health.  All this things will make that you will fill yourself as a creative actor of the society and not to be a slave.

Do what you are passionate by, reinvent yourself each day. It’s good for you, it’s good for your future, it’s good for the community.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

July 26, 2013 at 07:29

Is telecommuting dead?

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Marrysa Meyer, Yahoo's CEO wants to remove telecommuting

Marrysa Meyer, Yahoo’s CEO wants to remove telecommuting

Recently, Marrisa Meyer, Yahoo’s CEO, creates the controversy with her move to take away the flexible working arrangements that Yahoo employee are benefiting from. The reason was that working home or in other locations was a source of inefficiency in the work organization. The Yahoo’s human resources chief, Jackie Reses, mentioned that communication and collaboration are important, so people need to work side-by-side and it is critical that all people have to be present in the offices. Such affirmation created a lot of negative reactions. By reading this, I was thinking about the pertinence of such conclusion and decision about work organization. The inefficiency causes are probably not linked to the fact that people are not working at the same place. Personally, I spent more than 20 years in offices where people are coming everyday, but who are not communicating, are not sharing information. The problem is probably somewhere else.

In my mind, telecommuting or home working will be a trend in the coming years for many reasons, but it is not an end on itself. It is a possibility collaborators can use in particular circumstances. As in each system, conditions and rules need to be defined in order to get good results, and you will see that some rules are only basic management principles.

  • How to measure productivity? Is your company measuring productivity by the number of hours spent in the offices, or by the deliverables and the produced added-value? People can spend hours in the office and show low performances and other can work less time but provide results that represent significant added-value for the company. Some people are working less time but more wisely than others. The added-value they are providing can bring more future benefits to the organization than the work of other people working more time.
  • Are the goals clearly defined? : People have to know the scope of the projects they are working on. If people have clear goals, if they know where they have to go, what they have to do, and if they can appreciate the contribution they will bring to a common project, a big part of the success is ensured. By meeting such conditions, you are sure that the goals match with their aspirations. If they are motivated, they will take the appropriate actions to meet these goals and provide the needed work. But it is also the opportunity to indentify what will be the methodology of work and to see if some tasks need to be done in the office or not. For specific tasks, you will be probably more productive by working in an environment where you are not disturbed by colleagues every five minutes.
  • Organize regular meetings: Regular meetings are essential to share information, to fix an agenda for the coming days. Define with your team what will be the topics of the meeting, and spend only the time needed to cover these topics. It will be the opportunity to fix the next point, reporting and deadlines.
  • Define a reporting frame and deadlines: In order to follow the work in progress, set up a periodical reporting. By reviewing the progress of projects with your team members, you will appreciate the work done, and see if the productivity is there or not. It will be also the opportunity to be informed what the potential issues are and what the appropriate actions are needed, in order to prevent them. Pro-activity and anticipation implies communication.
  • Provide efficient technology: it is essential to provide efficient technology to ensure the productivity of people working remotely. Just a quick remind that technology is only a tool who contributes to ensure a better efficiency and productivity, only if the previous point are defined. By investing in good technology, you will allow people to work in good conditions and improve their productivity. Your return on investment will be reached quickly, by the provided time gains.

If such conditions are met, working remotely can be a real advantage. Time spent by people in traffic jams to go work, represents an important economical cost, as this time is unproductive, but also a cost in term of health and wellness. I noticed often that some organizations do not work, not because they have not efficient tools or because people are working remotely, but only because there is a lack of organization and management, or because people does not subscribe to the project.

I would say that companies don’t need to adopt a single way of organization, working in the offices or remotely. Each system has his advantage for specific functions, in particular circumstances, for specific tasks. But it is something as many things that need to be prepared, evaluated and improved on an ongoing way.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

March 20, 2013 at 22:04

To hire at lower prices.

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To hire at the lower price, a good deal?

Recently, I attended an event organized by a recruiting partner. These events are always the opportunity to meet colleagues and to exchange news and informations about the business trends. If we can hear and read about better results for the economy, it seems that the situation remains difficult regarding the job offers, even for permanent jobs than for interim management opportunities. I was discussing with a colleague looking for new opportunities, and she told me that she received some proposal and had some interviews, but that the offered salary for a proposed job was ..40% lower than her last salary! On the other side, I read in some newspapers than top salaries apparently remain unchanged compare to before the financial crisis. Where is the mistake?

For the time being, there are a lot of available candidates on the market, which has a negative effect on the salaries level. And of course, companies try to hire the cheaper candidate. But is it really a good deal to hire somebody with the minimum salary, and for some candidates a lower salary than their previous assignment? Maybe on a short term basis but what about the long term?

The question is what about the project of the company. Does the company wants to have a long term collaboration with the employees? If the employee finds an opportunity where he can have a better salary, he will leave the company. This means that you will have to hire somebody else, spending and loosing time to restart a recruitment process, and increasing your recruiting costs. More than this, the time spent by your employee during the few months he worked for your company is a pure loss, and a part of the know how is lost.

A recruitment process should include the same criteria than an investment. One parameter is the price, but the other parameter is the quality of services I will get for the money paid. You want to have the better ration quality-price, but think about the quality you really want to contract. Think also about the motivation of your employee. The salary is a part of the motivation, and the productivity and the work quality will probably be better if the salary level meets the candidate expectations. Think also about the fact that a long term collaboration with a candidate means a better knowledge and control of the processes, the business, and gains of productivity.

The solution to give the lowest salary is not the best one on a long term basis. As an investment, you will analyze the return on investment you will get from the disbursed amounts. Consider your employees as an investment, on which you can expect a good return. We never talk so much about human capital than now, but human capital seems still to  be stillconsidered as a cost and not as an assets. By paying bad salaries, you underestimate the human capital. And as you know, if you pay peanuts, you will get monkeys.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

October 27, 2010 at 21:58

How to motivate the senior blue collars.

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A Bmw production line

In a lot of european countries, the population pyramid is getting old, and in the next year, this phenomenon will be a challenge in many areas, for the retirement pensions payments, but also for the manpower in the business and the industry. Some companies are noticing such trend in the measure of the average age of their manpower. Some of then are really concerned by such problem, and they do not wait it is too late to think about the problem and to find innovative solutions. It is the case of BMW, the german automotive manufacturer.

This company launched a pilot project in her bavarian manufactory of Dingolfing, a project called “Heute für morgen” (today for tomorrow). This project includes a team of 38 fifty-years-olds workers, who are all working in a assembly line of differentials. Following the company, the average age of the workers will increase from 41,4 to 46,4 years old between 2008 and 2018. This ageing population is a real problem for an assembly line where the work is repetitive and painful. In order to prevent the problems which the manufactories will have to face to, BMW made a proposal of setting up a full health statement and to define with person practicing natural medicines, the physical risks linked to each job. The workers were invited too to give their opinions and to make suggestions, even very simple and cheap for the company, but which represented real improvements for the work conditions. For instance, a worker is explaining that the concrete floor was replaced by a wooden floor, and after this change, he had less pains in the legs. The infrastructure was also adapted, the control screens were putted down, and the size of the characters was enlarged, which show a more readable information. Some job shifts were also organized, in order to offer various tasks to the workers during a day. A physiotherapist is coaching the team once a month, by answering to the question and advising each worker. This is a benefit for all the workers, the seniors and the juniors too. The results of such project are positive, as BMW noticed an productivity increase of 7%. A result gained with simple and cheaper adaptations, as the program represented an investment of around 20.000 euros, which is peanuts for such business.

This example of project is an evidence that each worker can find a place and bring real added value in a company. With an innovative and integrated human resources policy, you can improve the condition of each worker, increase his wellness and his motivation, and increase the productivity of your company. This project created a win-win environment, producing positive effects on a long term basis.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

May 12, 2010 at 21:23