Thursday, November 24, 2011

What we expect from our leaders

I recently came across an article that started with something along these lines: for a company to attract the brightest talents and minds, and especially to keep them, it needs to go beyond cash bonuses and strive to create a culture that sees the Manager as a Coach and a Mentor. I kept reading and one figure caught my eye: one out of four Generation Y employees (people born between 1978 and 2001, that is, most of us) was planning to leave his/her current company in the following 12 months. 

Generation Y'ers supposedly consider that working with a boss that assumes and enforces the role of a facilitator for professional growth is a crucial variable when it comes to satisfaction, as it is to work in communities with shared interests and a common passion. In fact, professional development ranks three times higher with employees than cash bonuses as a reason to commit to the organization or to quit it.

I often hear "we must guarantee a nice salary package to hold employee X". Although it's true that in the beginning, and with the purpose of building a good base, financial compensation is a very important factor for keeping talent, money is not enough. There are several other reasons that employees ponder in order to stay in a company, and according to the study I mentioned, people value what can be learned and what will be taught much more than a salary package alone. In fact, similar studies estimate that 70% of resignations are due to factors related to supervisors and professional growth opportunities. A popular saying goes "people sign on with companies, but it's their bosses they quit".

Employees aspire and wish to have facilitators as leaders rather than bosses; they want to have challenges and opportunities to learn and do, to feel valued, and to see both their potential being used and its impact on the work. The central axis of each supervisor's functions should be to make his team members succeed, because a manager's success is the sum of each of his team members'. Simply put in business terms: the Manager as a Coach.  

So, those of us in charge of people: what should we do? Serve as guides, help their learning, keep a personalized relationship with every person that reports to us, give them our time, share our knowledge, listen and understand. I'm convinced that every individual has the capacity to develop and accomplish goals, and that it's a shared responsibility (employer-employee) to harvest this potential, which the employee often doesn't know how to develop or apply, or where to apply for best results.    

Personally, I'd like to add that work should always be fun. We must make sure that people enjoy their work, and that they have the feeling they're adding value to the company's accomplishments. In Smartmatic, we have a fascinating present and a fascinating future in front of us to profoundly affect societies through technology. And who wouldn't like to work for a better future?

Víctor Ramírez