Connect with us

Increasing Productivity

Richard Branson on Inspiring Employees

Expert advice on how to keep your employees motivated and inspired.

Richard Branson

Published

on

Richard-Branson-2

Once your company is well established, keeping your employees engaged in their work can be tough, especially those who took the job because they were intrigued by the excitement and the challenges presented by the launch stage.

Most of your best people will always be interested in developing their skills further, but they may find fewer new projects available, along with fewer paths to advancement. Working with employees to find solutions will be the job of every manager on your team.

I love tackling new challenges, and our team at Virgin does too, so as we expanded into new fields where we saw opportunities, we have always naturally expanded our skills. We launched our first Virgin business, Virgin Records, in 1972; one of the wonderful things about working here these days is the diversity of our companies all around the world.

One day you might be a member of a team that is working on the launch of a new mobile phone network in Latin America or the Middle East, and the next week you could find yourself helping to develop one of our Branson centres for young entrepreneurs.

I like to encourage all our employees to apply for jobs at other Virgin companies that they find interesting. In recent years, a few Virgin companies have provoked more of a response from the public and our employees than others; we often refer to them as our “shot in the arm” companies. They show customers and employees what our business stands for, and often inspire our teams at other businesses to try new challenges.

The most obvious example is Virgin Galactic: Many people dream of going to space one day, myself included, so there was nothing more thrilling than starting up a business with the aim of making that dream a reality. Galactic gave a boost to the entire Virgin Group, creating a buzz among employees who were proud of the company.

Virgin Galactic was partly the inspiration for Virgin Oceanic, our deep-sea exploration and tourism business – a company that will require all our best efforts, because ocean exploration is in many ways more difficult than space travel!

To be truly inspiring for employees, our shot-in-the-arm businesses must retain the core values of the rest of the company. Galactic Unite, a not-for-profit initiative that was launched earlier this year, is a good example.

In partnership with Virgin Galactic and the Virgin Group’s philanthropic arm, Virgin Unite, the global community of future astronauts – who signed up for our space tourism flights – is working to promote future innovation in this field. Galactic Unite provides scholarships for selected female college students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Another way we keep our employees engaged is by inviting them to take part in company events, like the Virgin Mobile Live Freefest, a free music festival we hold every year to raise money (through donations) for homeless young people.

Along with giving employees a chance to give something back to the community, the festival allows us to say thank you to our customers and staff by providing them with the chance to enjoy themselves for free. Our sense of fun unites our businesses – we love to let our hair down – and so this event reminds employees of what we stand for.

In some ways it’s easier for a large organisation like Virgin to embark on such projects, but with a little inventiveness and resourceful thinking, small business owners might come up with shot-in-the-arm schemes of their own.

When I left school and embarked on my first real business adventure, Student Magazine, it was at times a real struggle to keep our small group motivated and make ends meet, though we didn’t want our readers to be aware of this.

We wanted to present people with something exciting that they would want to pick up and read, but this seemed just about impossible when our living arrangements consisted of sleeping on mattresses in a friend’s parent’s basement.

Somehow I persuaded Mick Jagger to give us an interview, and that opened all sorts of doors for us since Mick Jagger hardly ever gave interviews. Jean-Paul Sartre, David Hockney and John Lennon all helped out with contributions.

We soon found ourselves with an exciting proposition on our hands. Together, our energised team members built a terrific magazine that succeeded in reaching the audiences we wanted to connect with: young people like ourselves.

As you consider how to challenge and engage your employees, remember that it’s important to keep things exciting – after all, we spend so much of our lives working that to stay fresh and creative, we need to bring a sense of play and entertainment to the office. Your employees’ continuing enthusiasm will pay off as they stay on for the long term, build their skills, contribute their ideas, and take a real interest in the business.

Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group and companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active. He is the author of "Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur."

Advertisement
Comments

Increasing Productivity

How To Build Organisational Wealth Through Increased Efficiency

Using the right business systems can allow your staff to become more efficient through best-practices and better process flows.

Published

on

organisational-wealth

As your business grows, the demands of running and managing all its parts increase. Fortunately, technology can help you standardise, streamline and adapt your operations in order to meet these increased demands. Let’s have a look at some of the ways in which you can increase efficiency to build your organisational wealth.

Integrated business units

It can be difficult to get a holistic view of what is going on in your business if information is floating between different departments and/or locations. Manually pulling data together can be very time consuming, causing delays and leaving greater room for human error.

Related: How To Improve Your Business Productivity And Efficiency With Help From Tech

By implementing an integrated business management solution, you can significantly increase efficiency among all your business units, allowing departments to easily share and access information. This real-time, inter-departmental integration allows you to get a birds-eye view of the performance of your business at the click of a button.

Business process automation

You can significantly save time by automating key business processes with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Accounting, for example, is much easier when details of all transactions are quickly and automatically shared between departments (no need to manually upload or download information).

Automation will enable your teams to respond to customer enquiries with alacrity and maintain optimal stock levels. Through automatic alerts and responses, relevant managers will be notified when stock reaches predetermined minimum levels. When these levels are reached, purchase orders for replenishment stock are automatically generated.

Automation also enforces consistency in your business’s day to day operations by following local and industry best-practices built into the system.

Synchronised customer data

The success of any small to medium sized business depends on getting new customers and providing excellent products and services to existing customers. Collating and sharing customer data across all departments is essential for effective customer service. SAP Business One, for example, provides the tools to track and manage the entire sales process, from initial contact and invoicing through to project management and after sales support – playing a pivotal role in customer retention management.

This complete view of past, present and prospective customers, along with historic purchases will help you to better understand your customers’ needs, behaviours and preferences. This will enable you to respond to clients effectively in order to boost satisfaction levels, increase sales, maximise profits and ultimately promote client retention. In addition, your marketing team can better plan campaigns based on insights from accurate data about prospective and current customers.

Related: 101 Efficiency Hacks For Busy Entrepreneurs

Instant access to information

You have to be able to plan properly to stay ahead of your competitors. Having access to up to date, relevant and accurate business data removes the guesswork and empowers employees to make informed business decisions. With an integrated business management system, you will be able to better manage your cash flow and stock holding with a real-time overview of current stock levels, orders in process and outstanding payments. This, in turn, will save time and allow you to better manage your procurement process and help build organisational wealth.

Who doesn’t like it when a plan comes together and things are working well? Working smarter and better – not harder – is what increased efficiency is about. Your teams will share the benefits of increased efficiency as you grow your organisational wealth together.

Continue Reading

Increasing Productivity

Mi Casa Es Su Casa: Achieving Positive Corporate Culture

How to achieve positive corporate culture in a group company.

Greg Morris

Published

on

corporate-culture

According to management consultant Peter Drucker: ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’. And there’s a good chance of this being true, especially since studies have shown a direct correlation between a strong, positive organisational culture and a business’s financial success.

The importance of culture

Prof JL Heskett writes in his 2011 book, The Culture Cycle, that a positive culture can make as much as a 20-30% difference in company performance, when compared with “culturally unremarkable” opponents.

Culture is also a form of protection – strong competitors may be able to copy a strategy, but can’t duplicate a culture. Indeed, when things go wrong in the economy, public opinion, or even the strategy itself, a company’s culture can serve as a safeguard against these, because employees are faithful to it.

But… while culture is a remarkable thing, it’s difficult to define and attain.

Related: A Culture Of Discipline Critical For SMMEs To Thrive

The definition of culture

Company culture is traditionally interpreted from a corporate perspective, to include the principles, opinions, basic assumptions, and mindsets that are shared by a group. But these don’t hold any value if they aren’t entrenched in a company’s processes. This is why culture is also about action.

A company can’t create an intelligible culture without people who a) agree with its core values or b) are prepared to commit the time needed to.

Further, those employees who succeed in a company are generally those who most closely associate with the culture. If the principles and ideals of an organisation are shared, a strong culture can even support recruitment through self-selection.

As a result, leaders should spend as much time determining, collaborating on, and communicating culture as they do on strategy.

Culture in a group company

With different and broad-ranging companies working together, the goal of building and sustaining culture in a holding company can be trickier than in other organisations.

In cases like this, it’s critical for every company in the group to hold onto its own distinct culture, in ways that fit the greater business.

Simultaneously, the parent company should create a culture for all of the holding companies to attach to. Because, without a uniting mechanism, real integration can be difficult to accomplish.

The problem is: which culture is the priority? The composition of a group company evolves as it acquires and sells different companies, so a root culture is necessary; one that current and new subsidiary cultures can buy into.

Related: The 7 Culture Pillars That Will Skyrocket Your Start-up To Success

Where to start

  1. Develop a set of principles, behaviours, and motivators for culture, and define what these mean practically.
  2. Write a positioning statement to share what the organisation stands for, both externally and internally. For example, Google’s is “organising the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful”.
  3. Generate a motto that summarises your culture. Google’s is: “Don’t be evil.” In other words: do positive things for the world, even if it means letting go of some short-term wins.
  4. Communicate these messages widely and repeat them continuously. (As obvious as this sounds, many group companies make the mistake of not communicating values to subsidiaries.)
  5. Invest time and resources into smoothing out the cultural differences every time a new company is acquired. This is important because an implosion of combined cultures can cost valuable talent, customers, or worse.
  6. Teach the culture. Not just through induction programmes for new employees, but through ongoing events, reminders, collaborations, and other ways that remind people what the culture looks and feels like.
  7. Share and ingrain the group’s root culture, as an element of unity.

The heart of the matter?

Peter Drucker highlights a potent triad in organisational transformation: Strategy, capabilities, and culture. He says that all three must be created together, aligned, and designed to be supportive of one another. This is more complex in group companies but, with strong communication and high levels of collaboration, a clear and productive culture is possible.

Continue Reading

Increasing Productivity

Why Deadlines Aren’t As Great As You’d Think For Creative Work

Be careful about how much time pressure you put on yourself.

Nina Zipkin

Published

on

creative-stress-management

Do you ever find yourself staring down at a deadline and just freeze? There is something to be said for setting a schedule for yourself and following through, especially when you are first starting a business, but recent research from Harvard finds that when you are dealing with creative pursuits, you need to give yourself enough time to breathe, otherwise you’ll just be doing busy work instead of actually building something that is truly innovative.

In an interview with Harvard Business Review’s Working Knowledge podcast, Professor Teresa Amabile said that during a hectic day, it’s possible to get a mistaken sense of creative energy powered by adrenaline simply because things were being crossed off a checklist.

“People who are under a lot of time pressure on a given day, actually feel very productive, they tend to feel very creative,” she said.

“But, here’s the interesting thing; they were actually significantly less likely to come up with creative ideas, or solve problems creatively on those days. They got a lot of stuff done, but they weren’t necessarily creative.”

Related: Follow These 8 Steps To Stay Focused And Reach Your Goals

She noted that in her research, people came up with the most creative solutions when they were working under low to moderate time pressure. So the next time you think about imposing an arbitrary deadline on developing new ideas, you might want to go easier on yourself.

Because feeling like you’re on a treadmill doesn’t only make your thinking more fractured, Amabile says that it also makes it tougher to find meaning in your work. So what can managers do to make sure that their employees always have time to innovate? Start with providing spaces where they can be quiet, focused and away from distractions.

“Let them understand the importance of what they’re doing, their own individual actions, and how that translates into something that will contribute to a customer need, to a societal need, to something that the company really needs to move forward,” Amabile said.

“Try to give people enough time for projects so that they can explore, so they can do that background research to get the information they need, and then so they can play with it somewhat. That doesn’t mean indefinite time frames, but it probably means longer time frames than people are usually given in most companies for most projects.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Continue Reading

Trending

FREE E-BOOK: How to Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Sign up now for Entrepreneur's Daily Newsletters to Download​​