Monika Świerszcz is head of HR Egis Polska, well acquainted with numbers. I talk to Monika about the conditions a company has to meet for employees to naturally become its ambassadors, and also about the role of a leader – how to be a leader who is seen as reliable and trustworthy by employees?
To make employees become company’s ambassadors is very difficult – there’s no question about it. Monika confirms it is easiest when you find your work pleasant, when it becomes a passion. This is obviously the ideal case, but you can be an ambassador of a company even when you’re not passionate about your job. The most important aspect is whether company values are in line with those of employees.
It’s difficult to be an ambassador of a company that is not in line with your values. Then you need to do things against yourself. That’s when becoming an ambassador is impossible.
Taking the example ofEgis, a company where Monika has been working for eleven years, she proves that an organization should take care of its employees every day, and should make them know that their issues are important to the company. You need to think about your employees also in the private context: remember about important events in their life, holidays, their families. But you also need to give them more than just a job – enable them to do good. Participating in charity actions builds a sense of community, awareness that your company is not just one of many average companies on the market, and the belief that “we are good on the outside, because we are good inside.”
This is why being good to yourself is so important, because it makes much easier being good to everybody else! And the easiest way to build engagement is through taking care of and respecting yourself and others, through mutual tolerance and understanding, which gives a sense of security and courage in making decisions, even risky ones. Mutual appreciation is what builds the team and the entire organization, and opens people up to one another.
Thinking about building an organization which has higher goals than just pure business, Monika is simultaneously aware that CSR is not important to everyone and you cannot force anyone to start taking care of it. Just as you cannot force anyone to like their job. In companies such as Egis, organizational culture, the way of communicating and operating is well established. Since employees have various cultural background, it’s not easy for everyone to find themselves there. They need support, and if after some time they admit they are part of an exceptional organization – that’s a huge success.
Another crucial thing is zero tolerance for breaking internal rules, immediate reaction to unacceptable behaviors, and requiring mutual respect.
I believe cultural compatibility with the organization is most important. In the recruitment process many knowledge or technical deficits can be easily caught up with, but sometimes you simply can’t overcome cultural incompatibility.
It is extremely important for employees that their leaders do as they say. Just like parents who are an example to their children, but also prove that they treat them seriously. After all, the power and meaning of action does not lie in preaching, but in what we do. A leader who follows the company values, reacts whenever necessary, in cases small and large – such a leader is trustworthy and reliable in the eyes of employees. People will esteem him.
A good leader is like a center keeping everything together. He knows whether someone needs to talk, help or just being heard. He tries to look at things from a wider perspective, provide support, or even to lighten people up. Small gestures are very often enough – wishing all the best or placing a flower on someone’s desk. When this happens spontaneously, from the core, it’s authentic. And it works!
A leader, just like everybody else, has the right to have a worse day, to be in a bad mood, to have moments of weakness. Monika confirms there are moments when she feels helpless, when she feels like crying. But she believes such a realistic attitude is important, because it shows that she is a normal human being, who may forget about something on a very busy day, but she also knows how to apologize. Showing your weaknesses and emotions makes you authentic. And I agree with this.
This is just one of “Your First Customer” interviews. Interested? Watch other interviews. You can also read the book “Your First Customer. How to Turn Employees into Company Ambassadors”.