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Posts Tagged ‘team spirit

Why volunteering is an opportunity.

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VolunteeringActing as volunteer implies some qualities to benefit from such experience. Each volunteer has his own reason to dedicate a bit of time to contribute to any social project. But sometimes, it appears that some volunteers are feeding only their own ambitions. I noticed this by some attitudes, or by some remarks they do. These findings make me think about the qualities people need to have in order to succeed in a volunteering experience and gaining a positive feedback, similar qualities needed in entrepreneurship.

– A question of value: You want to contribute to a better world, a better society. You strongly believe that to subscribe to values is not enough, but you have to act in accordance with your values, that are common values in the project. In other words, you are an actor, not a spectator.

– Contributing to a common goal: Contributing as volunteer will bring you some satisfaction which is probably one of your goal, but your personal goal cannot be reached to the detriment of the common goal. It implies that you have to store your ego in the closet, and acting in a way that each member of the team will gain satisfaction and value, will have the feeling to be a stakeholder of the project, a way that maximize the chances of success. You are working within a team spirit, working with and not against a team.

– Showing interest for other people: Volunteering is an opportunity to meet different people with different horizons of competences and experiences. By sharing each other knowledge and experience, you catch an opportunity to learn something, but you will get also another perception of the environment in which you are acting, you will adapt your strategy, and you will perceive more in depth the finality of your action. Such process can only succeed if you bring interest to other and not if you work only on your own.

– Curiosity and creativity: By living new experiences, you can discover in you hide and unexpected passions. It is up to you to be curious and to use your creativity to realize new things, to build innovative solutions. Moving your own limits and sharing what you do with other is an opportunity for each people to move his own limits too. Remember this quote saying that the only thing you increase by sharing it each other is knowledge.

– Commitment and leadership: Volunteering implies a commitment. The success of a project is linked to the commitment of all the stakeholders. It means that you are volunteering not to pass the time but to make succeed a project and to operate in this way. When you are filling your diary, consider volunteering as a priority, that it means to have an appointment not only with other, but also with yourself. Volunteering has to be a life project and you have to make it work.
In this common activities, consider each people for what he does and for what you can share each other. No question to consider your work as more interesting than the work of somebody else. As said previously the work of each team member will bring sense to your work. Each member work is useful and contribute to the success. Develop and show talents of leadership. Appreciate and recognize the work of others, listen to them, and you will maximize your chance to be appreciated and recognized too.

There are many other qualities we could quote, but time to time, I notice that some people are volunteers for “bad” reasons. How often some people told me that I am “doing this for free”. Yes, the purpose of volunteering is to contribute to a social and common project, not to be paid. And such remark sounds very strange from people criticizing the capitalistic system, and mentioning this as a motivation to cooperate in volunteering projects, but expecting money as reward for a service. Sometimes, in my experience, I had more satisfaction and learned more things by working as volunteer for specific projects than some days in my professional activities.
These people are often too those who attributes the collective success to themselves, and put the guilt of failures to the others. If looking for recognition is legitimate, you cannot gain it to the detriment of the other. It is a question of ego, and often, ego is inversely proportional with knowledge and capabilities.
That is why volunteering is an opportunity when you integrated these qualities. Increase your experience, discovering new interest and passions is probably the best thing you can do to maximize your chance of catching new opportunities, or to face and launch new challenges. It is an opportunity to expand the fields of the possible, to build new projects in other areas. We are not far from what Steve Jobs mentioned in his unforgettable speech at the Stanford university, when he talked about to connect the dots, meaning that you can innovate by making a link between things that seems nothing to do with each other. See your volunteering life and professional life like two things that can feed each other. Consider such experience for the long term effect you can get from it, and contributing to your personal goal, it means to build an interesting and passionate life.


Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 10, 2015 at 19:03

The keys of a strong partnership

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The keys of a strong partnership

We are close from year end, and traditionally, it is the time to look to the perspective for next year. The financial crisis, we thought it was over, is still there, and it creates uncertainty for the coming months.

I was attending an event some days ago, organized by a recruiting partner. In his speech, the managing director was mentioning these uncertain times, and the necessity to build strong teams and partnerships in order to do business and maximize chances to get opportunities in such difficult environment. Indeed, when economical environment is bad and that the markets are decreasing, the struggle between competitors is more intense, and the customers have more power to dump the prices for acquired services. But is the price the only strong argument to choose a contractor or supplier for services? It is probably an important one on a short term basis, but if you want to maintain sustainable partnerships on a long term basis, there are other important keys on which you will get more return on investment. What are these keys?

  • Trust and accountability: Trust is essential between members of a partnership. Each people have to know that he can count to his partners to provide solutions to a problem or a challenge, and that he will contribute to the collective success.

  • Integrity: Integrity is linked to trust and is a major component of it. Integrity and honesty is a guarantee of a good reputation. Don’t forget that it takes a long time to build a strong and good reputation but only few minutes to destroy it. Lack of integrity can not have only negative consequences for the person who is lacking of integrity but for the whole team.

  • Quality of services: The customer is expecting a level of service for the paid price. To offer the lowest price is not the only argument to acquire business opportunities. The ratio Quality/price is much more important. Each service has a price. The customer can understand that, but on the other hand, try always to offer a little bit more than what the customer is expecting. You will first meet his expectations, and he will certainly contract again your services in the future.

  • Professionalism: Professional attitude is essential. If there is any problem that can block the success of a project, talk about it with the customer and try to find with him an appropriate solution. If you can not offer the needed service for a determined problem, try to find a solution or a contractor who has the competence to solve it. You can always playing, not only as a service provider but also as a solution provider. By looking for a solution for the customer, you will make it save a lot of time.

  • Network: Build a strong network of professionals. It is a good way to provide solutions to the customer I am referring in the previous point. The quality of collaboration you will have with these people will make that they can recommend you and contribute to build and let know your good reputation. By having such behavior, your partners will not forget you and will come back to you with some opportunities you can take.

  • Team spirit: Team spirit is essential. As contractor, you will need the collaboration of employee of your customer to achieve goals. Stay humble and share also with them the solutions you are suggesting. Each challenge offers a win-win situation which empowers collaboration and partnership.

 A strong partnership based on the values I mentioned above is essential in the business, and particularly during difficult times, when you have to make the difference with your competitors. Partnership and collaboration are better solutions than competition. Competition is only useful if it contributes to motivate people of a team each other, in order to provide a better quality of services. Building a strong partnership creates a mutual motivation between stakeholders, creates a win-win situation where we can learn from each other, acquire knowledge and contribute to provide high added-value services and solutions. This is an important point that customers have to keep in mind to build long term collaborations. When companies are facing recession times, they are decreasing costs, cutting contracts and decreasing personal costs. Such restructuring process means a loss of know-how and do-how. To rebuild such team and reach again the same level of quality en efficiency, takes long time and cost a lot of money. On the other hand, people having talents like challenges and interesting projects. They like also companies where they can work with talented and professional people. By having a long-term vision and opened to flexible solutions, they can build and maintain strong partnership and ensure a sustainable business.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

November 24, 2011 at 19:20

Trust, responsibilities and motivation.

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Trust, responsibilities and motivation, ingredients of teamwork.

In the economical world, where the competitions become harder, the key factor maintaining companies in a leadership position, is the performance level. Performances of companies or organizations are related to the motivation of the personnel. The motivation is generated by different factors.

First, it is important that people have a clear idea about the content of their function, their mission, and have clearly defined objectives, mid and long-term career perspectives. This is a reason why the recruiting process is a key factor contributing to a potential long-term collaboration. Indeed, the content of the function and the targets have to match with the employee expectations. A recent study performed in the Belgian work market shows that people are according more importance to challenges and career evolutions perspectives than to the salary packages.

A second point is the trust given by the management to the employee. When people are trusted, they have the feeling that management believes in them and about their capacity to work autonomously. I remember some years ago, I was working as accountant for an American company. My boss was on holiday, and we had to face a serious trouble with the IT during an upgrade process. A part of the data’s was lost because the backup systems did not work properly. Two weeks of data were lost, and the last accounting monthly closing disappeared. I contacted a controller at the head quarter in the U.S. I explained the situation, and he told me that I would have a better overview of the situation than him, and that if it was necessary, I had to look for temp people in order to come back to a normal situation. Fortunately, an IT company where we sent the hard disks retrieved the data and we were back to the normal. The instruction of the controller was a real challenge for me, but also an evidence that he was convinced that I would be able to manage the situation. This trust evidence was a source of motivation for me. If people believe in you, you believe in yourself and are motivated to face challenges and take responsibilities. But it is obvious that we have to respect the given trust and the merit of trust is a daily exercise.

A third point is to give responsibilities to the people. When you trust on them and when you know that they can work on an autonomous way, then you can delegate tasks and responsibilities, which is a key point in term of management. We are used to say that if somebody is able to perform a task or a process at around 75%, then you have to delegate it. By delegating, you are giving higher responsibilities to the people, and showing that you trust on his capabilities. You offer him also an opportunity to learn and to increase his capacities and competences.

Recognition of the work done is another important factor of motivation. We know that successful project achievement can only be done by a hard contribution from each member involved in the project. Most of the biggest challenges are achieved by hard work provided by the project team. More than a bonus or a salary increase, the recognition and the feedback about the provided work is important to motivate people.

And what about team spirit? People can only give the best of themselves, if they are working within a team where members are moved by team spirit and by the will to reach first the common goal. When people are working together and want to achieve the common goal, it means that everybody can achieve his own goal related to his function and contributing to the common goal success. In such way, people have the feeling to be really part of a team and of a project where their work is recognized.

All these points show that trust can generate a win-win relationship between employees and employers, between partners. Trust can increase the motivation and the will to take responsibilities. It is in fact a contract where each partner have to respect the clauses.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 18, 2011 at 22:40

Change, responsibility and self-confidence.

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Self-confidence & responsibility, ingredients to feed change?

When change is considered as new opportunities by some people, it is seen as a danger by others. Change is a question of mind and some people are not used to change. But the question to be asked is why there are not used to change. Or maybe why have they no motivation to operate changes.

If we are going back to many years ago, and maybe still today in some public organizations, people were supposed to do their job as it was told to them. They were not allowed to take initiatives or to change some rules. The change was only driven by some managers or responsibles, and the employees were only allowed to do things as it was decided. But is it still possible to manage things in such a way, in a fast moving environment? No, it is not.

The development of technologies has an important impact in term of organization in companies and institutions. Each change of operating mode needs also some changes in term of people management. But in order to drive this changes successfully, people have to be motivated by changes. It is only possible if some conditions are met.

  • Function and job description: people needs to have a clear job descriptions, to have a good picture about their function in the company and the implication of their work within the organization

  • Targets and objectives: Peter Drucker was saying that management by objective works if you know the objectives. Ninety percent of the time, you don’t. If people know their objective, they can organize their work to reach the objectives.

  • Team spirit: personal objectives are part of global objectives, the objectives of the company, of the organisation. Global objectives can only be reached if people are working together on an organized way. It implies to know how to work, who is doing what. Let us keep in mind that there is no personal success without common success.

  • Responsibilities: By defining a function and goals for each people, you are giving responsibilities. With the development of technologies, where each function requires more skills and capabilities than before, each people is playing a key role, but need to have the feeling that this role is taken into consideration by the management. People assume and are motivated to take their responsibilities if it is recognized by the management,

  • Feedback: Feedback is important. If people are doing mistake or are not going in the direction of the assigned goal, colleagues or management need to give feedback about what is going wrong, analyse the reasons of the mistake, and to discuss about the appropriate actions to be taken. We are learning more from our mistakes than from our successes. It will help people to anticipate potential mistakes and to be more proactive, and to increase the quality of work.

  • Self-confidence: By assigning clear goals, by helping people to reach these goals and by recognizing the added value of their work, people have the feeling to be part of the organization and become more self-confident. This self-confidence will make that they will not hesitate to take initiatives to improve the processes of the organization. It is clearly a win-win situation, where people are acquiring added value and the organization benefits from the work quality of dedicated people.

As we can see, change is not something we can decide in one day. It is not only a question of mind but also a question of culture of the organization. It is obvious that culture is conditioning people, but in a fast moving environment where flexibility become a key factor of success, people can only face revolutions if they are used to work within an evolution process. And in an environment where flexibility and adaptability become important factors of success, it is obvious that people have to be used to work within an evolution process.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 11, 2011 at 20:51

Team spirit without common goal?

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Volunteer workers

As member of the board of a small non-profit organization, the board of directors had recently a discussion with the project manager about the difficulties to manage a team of employees and volunteers. He was explaining the daily conflicts and tensions he has to manage, which is not an easy task for different reasons.

To describe the context, we have to know that some employees are hired in a reintegration framework. These people lost they jobs in the past, they lost the workless allowances. It means that these people are socially weakened. This reintegration program help them to find again a place in the society, to trust themselves and to reintegration the job market. These people need to be managed with clear objectives and instructions. Within the organization, these employees have to work with volunteers, and as mentioned before, the collaboration is not always on the top.

On one side, we have employees who are linked to the organization by a work contract, with clearly defined duties and objectives. They know that if they are not respecting certain rules or defined duties in their work contract, they can be sanctioned. On the other side, we have volunteers who have no specific contractual link and duties, but only a moral commitment. The tensions who are appearing is that some volunteers are doing what they want to do, and not always what has to be done. They do not accept any remarks from the employees, and the employees have difficulties to accept remarks from volunteers “who have no specific obligations and who are there for their own satisfaction and not to sustain the common goal.”

By observing this situation, we think immediately to the necessity to define goals and objectives of the organization, and to describe how each person can operate and interact to make the assigned project feasible. By describing clear goals and assigned roles to the team members, employees as volunteers, we have to ask them first if they are subscribing to the project, if there is a matching between the needs of the project and their expectations. This is an essential condition to be filled by the hired employes, but also for the volunteers. I would say that this condition is more important for the volunteers who are only linked to the project by a moral commitment. They have to understand that they have to contribute to the project on a efficient way, to operate on a collaborative way with the employees. By doing like this, they are contributing to the achievement of the targets of the organization, but they are helping also the employees hired in this reintegration program to achieve goals, to trust themselves and to empower their social links.

This situation shows how it is important to clearly define and explain what are the objectives of a project and what are the objectives of each member of the project team. They have to perceive that each project has to be structured and organized, and that each member of the team has to play a specific role. The projects are taking place in an profit or non-organization, where structure, organization and team spirit are the essential key factors of success, and that there is no personal success without common success. Peter Drucker was used to say: “Management by objective works, if you know the objectives. Ninety percent of the time, you don’t.”

Picture source:

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

November 10, 2010 at 00:29

Passion and team spirit, the ingredients of successful projects.

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Solar Impulse, the fruit of passion and team work

Wednesday, april 7th, Solar Impulse, the first solar plane did his first flight. This plane took off from the military airport of Payenne in Switzerland. This plane, with a wingspan of an Airbus A340 (63,40 meter) and the weight of a car (1600 kilos) is propelled by four electrical engines, fed by around 12.000 photo-voltaic cells, charging lithium-polymer batteries. The plane flighted around two hours.

This event represents more than an evolution in the aerospace story, we could say that it is a revolution. Since a lot of time, the man was dreaming to fly, and it is in the year 1903 that the Wright brothers built the first glider. It was a revolution at that time to be able to make fly an aircraft. There were after a lot of steps and improvements, from transport planes to jets. Today, another step starts, with a plane using renewable energy sources.

This solar airplane represents a wonderful technological achievement. Bertrand Piccard, a swiss psychiatrist and entrepreneur, is at the origin of this project. He wanted to demonstrate that it is possible with the development of new technologies to minimize the usage of fossil energy. Solar Impulse is supposed to fly by using only solar energy. Following Bertrand Piccard, if we are able to develop this technology for an airplane, we can develop it also for other transport mode or applications.

This is a revolutionary technological achievement, but it is also an extraordinary human adventure. Bertrand Piccard and his team worked on this project during six years, on design, simulations and construction. The success of such project is only possible if two ingredients are there: passion and team spirit. To lead such project to the success is a question to gather competences and expertise, but also to gather people moved by passion. The first point is to believe in the project, to believe in such project because you have an entrepreneur mind. The entrepreneurs have always a project in advance, they are visionaries. For then, impossible is not a reality, and if there are doubts about that, they will try to see if it is really the case. In this case, we could add also an humanist dimension to this project. As said Bertrand Piccard, “With this project, we would like to send a message, to demonstrate that the renewable energies are not trivial, but they are a credible alternative contributing to the environment preservation and to economical development. During many years, ecology and economy were opposed. Today, the development of new ecological technologies presents a potential of economical growth and sustainable jobs.

During an interview after this inaugural flight, Bertrand Piccard was explaining that he had tears in one’s eyes, that he was so happy to see the fruits of his team work. We could imagine easily the satisfaction and the happiness to succeed such project. It is an evidence that such project has not been only moved by cerebral activity, but also by the hart. It is when things are coming from your hart, that you find the energy to build the different steps of your project. You are in a mood where you have not to convince yourself, because you are already convinced. You are maximizing your change to reach your goal, because you are focusing on it.

If you gather people having the same passion, who want to pursue a common goal, and who are aware that there is no personal success without team success, then you have the most important ingredients to realize your projects, to transform dreams in reality.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 14, 2010 at 20:46