Written by: Renée LeMoine
Photo by: Pavel Veselý
I currently manage three companies with a total of 150 employees at all levels, so I’ve naturally read many guides to correct management and motivation of employees. Our management team is made up of people of varying ages over 25. It isn’t easy to motivate such a diverse team in terms of age. Among older team members there is the traditional saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, while younger members are lacking in experience and yardsticks for comparisons. But if a firm is to prosper, the team must be able to turn off the beaten path.
Speaking with the team more about plans for the future has proved worthwhile for me. I always try to compare such visions with the present to better explain their sense and necessity. My colleagues then have more trust in me, and if I can convince them, they are willing to knuckle down and try harder. My trust in the team thus also grows, because I can feel their support. I call for discussions, I try to understand their feelings, and when possible, to avoid an authoritative management style. I’ve had to part ways with strong individuals to avoid diluting the teamwork. I’m not keen on being surrounded by loyal yes-men; I respect my colleagues who can come up with good ideas themselves. My task is then to support them in putting their ideas into practice.
senior manager Human resource Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers
I recall working with a very small team whose members were labeled as poor performers. We had a short time-frame and limited resources – and I risked using one of my coaching approaches. What did I do? I was absolutely frank and disclosed to the team what was believed about them and their performance. Why did it work? My experience with teams is that we often engage far too much energy in the various “games” through which we seek acceptance and respect from the group. In this case, each of the members privately “processed” the feedback and it removed many of our hidden internal barriers to full performance. We quickly reached cooperation and creative problem solving.
We focused on the real thing, and were able to communicate in a straightforward way. That helped our objective to become clear and our actions aimed on completing the task rather than on satisfying our own egos. The unpleasant feedback served as a challenge and people mobilized the best in them to fulfill the task. They were much more willing to listen and accept the best solutions instead of fighting for their own.
managing director and chief architect, Loxia Architects
The growing number of Loxia projects resulted in the growing number of employees. This, together with greater professional requirements, forced a shift from a universal arrangement of work teams to the creation of specialized groups fully engaged in their fields. This led to the birth of teams for office, hotel, residential, industrial, leisure, and commercial projects. It’s now possible to share experience and intellectual capital and achieve greater harmony between the client’s needs and the architectural solution.
The architectural concept was separated from the technical and administrative engineering work through cooperation between two separate legal entities (Loxia, a. s., for architecture, and Loxplan, s. r. o., for engineering and design activities). The precise division of individual phases and responsibilities within the project among management members and project managers helped better concentrate energy in production itself, and thereby in profitability. The new organization allows every employee to do his best on his own task. Our clients greatly appreciate this clarification, too.
director of finance department, IPS Skanska
First of all, this is my twenty-ninth year with this company. That means I’ve been through several bosses, so I can recall the conditions that were conducive to my work. I’d also like to note that for a woman it’s unquestionably harder to be a director to women. Men are more open when speaking their minds, while women often keep their thoughts to themselves. As far as motivating subordinates is concerned, things were best for me with a boss who was always in a good mood. Although he was demanding as far as work went, he never flew off the handle or got moody, and he never brought his personal problems to the office. I try to treat my subordinates the same way. I’ve been working with these people for ten years, and I think we’re a good team. One of the keys is to keep smiling – and don’t turn mistakes into tragedies.
Mistakes should be resolved, and people shouldn’t be put under stress because of them. Of course negative motivation – fears about bonuses, position – can work, but not for the long term. However, if a subordinate repeatedly fails to follow through, naturally I start slamming doors too. In my department in particular the “bonus for good work” system doesn’t work. Consistent good work is required, and if everything is going well, my colleagues can be sure that at year’s end I will give them the highest bonuses I can.