‘Some companies behave like boarding schools’ – Trend magazines on PC

Give employees the confidence to choose their own working hours, salary, colleagues and direct supervisor. It is the principle of industrial democracy that the Brazilian businessman Ricardo Semler has applied in his business for four decades. “Happiness at work is using your talent without hierarchical obstacles.” Trends selects groundbreaking themes and stories. Ricardo Semler deserves the brand because he uses industrial democracy in his business.

In his keynote address at the Happiness @ Work conference in Antwerp, Ricardo Semler explained how easy it is to create job satisfaction. Use the talent you have and do it in an organization that removes as many obstacles as possible. These obstacles are all the rules and regulations that a company maintains in order to have power over its employees and control them. Semler believes that companies can become better places to work if they transfer power to employees. Productivity and employee satisfaction go hand in hand. “Give employees as much responsibility as possible to decide how hard they work, when to take vacations, or what hours of the day they work, and judge them by the results they get.”

In his keynote address at the Happiness @ Work conference in Antwerp, Ricardo Semler explained how easy it is to create job satisfaction. Use the talent you have and do it in an organization that removes as many obstacles as possible. These obstacles are all the rules and regulations that a company maintains in order to have power over its employees and control them. Semler believes that companies can become better places to work if they transfer power to employees. Productivity and employee satisfaction go hand in hand. “Give employees as much responsibility as possible to decide how hard they work, when to take vacations, or what hours of the day they work, and judge them by the results they get.” Ricardo Semler did the same when he took over the Semco machine business from his father when he was twenty-one. On his first day, Ricardo fired 60 percent of all top executives. He democratized the company and turned the corporate hierarchy upside down. He delegated as much decision-making power as possible to the employees. His main principle: Throw overboard structures, processes and flows that do not lead to efficiency. He has used it at Semco for more than forty years. The company transformed from a traditional factory into a democratically run group, where employees make decisions and share responsibilities and authority in the workplace. The escape from the dictatorship of the rules is central. “Some companies behave like boarding schools,” he suggested in Antwerp in front of more than a thousand listeners. “Where the hell did we get the idea from that we need all those rules and at the same time expect people to be free and happy in the workplace.” Semco’s employees choose their own hours, salaries, colleagues and direct manager. It seems like a recipe for chaos, but nothing could be further from the truth. The company grew from 90 to 5,000 employees. Annual revenue increased from $ 4 million to $ 212 million with an average growth of 47 percent. Semco has a staff turnover of only 2 percent. “My wife tells me that I once had one good idea that I then used for everything: school, work and so on,” laughs Ricardo Semler. To this day, he influences companies that want to do things differently. During his keynote address in Antwerp, Semler gave examples of his principle. For example, he got employees to appoint their immediate manager. “In the search for a new head of the finance department, we got several resumes from people with the same technical qualifications. The employees who wanted to talk to the candidates. Then we got them to write the name of the person they want as boss. We hired the person who was mentioned the most. The employees judge for themselves who is competent and who will take sufficient care of them. It works very well. All the employees’ intuition is more valuable than the technical part in the first round of. application.” The Brazilian businessman also opened all meetings for all interested: “If you were bored, you could leave the meeting. The one who was left helped to take a stand on the subject. In the beginning, there were 100 people present and we had to look for larger seats before the meeting.Soon many got up and left.Only the employees who showed a real interest in the topic made the decision about it.If you let people choose more whether they want to attend meetings or when they want to leave , it makes a huge difference to their self-esteem. ” Semler was given two seats on the board by the first employees to show up. “It forced the board meeting to be clear to everyone, including janitors or factory workers. Instead of talking about complicated economic scenarios, which are usually based on wishful thinking, board members should use a language that everyone understands.” Ricardo Semler also changes employees every two years. “We give them new opportunities. A CFO thus becomes the production manager. Sometimes they do not realize that a particular domain gives them too little joy. It is a great experience. They see things from a different angle.” Semco executives long ago gave up checking whether people work hard or not. At one point, we realized that even wages are something we do not have to get involved in because they are technical and objective. If we tell employees where “Everyone in the company earns a lot, and how much profit we make, they are perfectly qualified to decide what their salary should be. People who gain autonomy and trust also handle this with great responsibility.” Semler attaches great importance to transparency. A transparent company must maintain fewer processes because everyone is informed. Less time is lost on political games, which require a lot of energy from the organization: “We set up a computer in the cafeteria, where everyone had access to information about the company. There is no need to hesitate about how and how much money the company makes or what the payslips look like. It’s not as confidential as some people think. There is nothing we do not share. Once you have total transparency, you begin to feel a sense of trust. “Ricardo Semler has been applying his principle for four decades now. Would he do things differently?” The idea of ​​hierarchy that people need leadership is hard to let go get rid of it, “he explains.” It’s so ingrained in us that people have a hard time getting rid of it. They unconsciously keep repeating patterns, thus limiting themselves. There are still women who think it is not their place to be truck drivers. I expected people would be more likely to make decisions on certain issues. But with big decisions, they still take a step back because they feel it’s not their place to take them. “Still, Semler is optimistic. Much has already changed.” Traditional conservative banking institutions like Goldman Sachs, for example, let employees choose your own holiday time. Other forward-thinking companies do not ask their employees to return to the office full time. It will get there, but it will take time. “Any business, large or small, in any industry can apply Semler’s principles, he says:” It’s not that hard to get started, but it requires some concrete steps: trust your employees, look at talent and just remove obstacles left and right. “He calls the first steps symbolic.” Give employees the freedom to choose how long and where they work. Let them take responsibility. The moment you no longer control them, you have a springboard to contract work in a different way, focused on results and goals. Whether they do their work in the evening or on Saturday should not be a problem. “Who should make that change in the company: the CEO, the HR department or the employees themselves?” If you give your employees more responsibility for deciding what they want, they can make these changes themselves. The CEO or HR does not have to go ahead. Rather, they should get out of the way and let employees go together to decide what they want with the rules. It is enough. Saying you want to resign with their decisions is not as scary as you might think, “says Semler. After Maverick and The Seven-Day Weekend, Ricardo Semler is working on his third book, which is about the dictatorship of the IQ.” Our society is based on IQ, “he explains,” which leads to an unjust society in which people with logical mathematical abilities have an advantage over everyone else. Just look at Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg or the guys from Uber. They are big businessmen, but completely incompetent as humans. In recent years, there has been little interest in measuring any of the other intelligences, such as social empathy or emotional intelligence. However, people with high emotional intelligence and social interaction skills can sometimes be much more important to the business than the person with a higher IQ. So we tried to design a process where we take the other intelligences into account. It’s time to dump the IQ dictatorship. ”

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