Back in May of 2014, in what I had not yet realized was another futile attempt to triumph over workplace adversity, I wrote these paragraphs:
Today’s buzzword, and I hope it’s yesterday’s buzzword soon, is passion. Management wants us to be passionate about our work. Sure. Passion is a powerful motivator. While it lasts.
Sorry boss, I lost my passion for build 12. I’ve got a thing for ham radios, now.
I’ll leave passion for the bedroom or perhaps the garage, and take old-fashioned reliability to the office. Which means that plenty of the time work is going to feel like anything but passion. That’s why they called it work in the first place, in case some of you young punks were wondering.
I was a boy whistling in the dark. A year later I quit. I feared that after 35 years I was done with high tech.
Not long after, I started doing some contract work for Ericsson. At first it was just a few hours a week. But I started to feel better. I increased the hours to 20. Then to 30. In December I agreed to 40 hours per week and during January and February I worked quite a bit more than that.
How could I go from being so discouraged I could barely glance at my computer to being so motivated I didn’t want to stop working? Eric Berridge has something to say about that:
In today’s customer-driven market, it’s easy to overlook the employee experience. But if companies allow customer focus to override their care for their employees, they will lose the very force that enables customer success.
We’re not alone in recognizing the importance of prioritizing the employee experience. This year, nearly one-third of companies cited employee-facing initiatives as one of their top objectives. They know that employee experience is just as important as customer experience in achieving business results.
Innovation is essential to improving employee experience, but innovation is not just about ideas. You have to combine it with data, design, and an employee culture willing to adopt it. Low adoption of new tools and processes causes repercussions that are felt across the entire organization. Talk to employees to find out what information they need and the best way to see it—they will be more productive and will spend more time giving customers what they want. Don’t just invest in new technology; take the time to understand your culture and give your employees a better experience.
Eric Berridge, CEO of Bluewolf, The State of Salesforce, via CIO Cloud Alert
This is not a blog about Salesforce. I just happened to be reading the report, and found the introduction by Eric encouraging. Perhaps companies will realize that caring for their employees is not only the decent thing to do, but a competitive advantage. Perhaps technologies such as those recommended by Eric will put back some of the humanity that earlier technologies took out of business processes and, as a result, the corporate office.
Ericsson doesn’t need any such technology. They never forgot how important employees are to the success of both their customers and the corporation. Everyone I met at Ericsson in Kista, their Sweden HQ, was not only competent, but warm, helpful, and welcoming. Even to a contractor from another country.
They weren’t just being polite. Ericsson has a corporate culture that nurtures trust instead of fear. Enthusiasm instead of apathy. With trust, you get collaboration. With enthusiasm, you get innovation. You get people’s best work, and you don’t even have to ask for it. Two people in particular made that possible for me: Geoff Hollingsworth (@geoffworth) for inspiring leadership and Deirdre Straughan (@DeirdreS) for gifted management. They don’t have to use buzzwords, employ best practices, or create team bonding events. They are the real deal. I know it. The people who work for them know it. And the team they built from vendors, employees, and contractors was dedicated, agile, and eager to help each other out.
If you’re curious, here’s the website a few of us on the team launched, and the new blog:
We’ll be doing a lot more during the rest of the year, and I’m going to be … ah … jumping in with unbridled passion.