Monthly Archives: September 2015

Few are “most times motivated”

Motivation in the workplace was a core topic of a recent study by Oracle in Europe. One result was that the bosses are much less important motivators than the peers. Mind you, the less important––and therefore the much less successful! But what’s even more thoughtful is that only one in four Germans show a consistently dedicated work ethic. But why?

One thing is hard to confirm with numbers, but uncontroversial: Motivation makes enterprises’ success increase simultaneously. Anyone can check this with his own experience: Whoever carries out a job with dedication, joy and conviction, shows a noticeably stronger zest for action. Unfortunately, there are no comparable figures from productivity and degree of motivation as similar companies and departments would have to be examined. But yet there is a current numerical value: 61 percent of Germans believe that anyone performs better who really is eager to work. So far so good?

No. This value comes from a study that would otherwise not deliver much edifying results about motivation. Its name: “Simply Talent”, sponsored by Oracle. A survey of more than 1,500 employees of large companies in Europe. Not much edifying? Only about 25 percent of Germans replied “most motivated” when asked how they feel at work––this is just one in four! Across Europe, these were at least 35 percent. That means: Three quarters of all Germans make their business less unproductive by more or less unmotivated work.

Important for the inner attitude are impulses from the outside. But who motivates employees? In approximately 40 percent of all cases it’s the colleagues, the study says. And the bosses? Those whose task it would be? Only about 20 percent of all respondents feel inspired by them to a special performance. So the rate of defaults among the bosses is higher than that of the employees––four-fifths compared to one in four. The colleagues proved to be the much more successful motivators.

What do the employee miss from their managers? Every second one feels his performance not adequately dignified. In Germany, 60 percent said this, as many as nowhere else in Europe. And the cross-check? A mere 28 per cent registered any recognition at all of their individual achievements by the company. 35 percent wanted a more transparent presentation of their own achievements in the business’ success. And about the same number told the pollsters that they would feel more motivated by more exciting projects.

Anyone who thinks that HR managers would achieve a positive effect on employee’s motivation is unfortunately mistaken. A whole three percent of all respondents felt inspired by them in their work atmosphere. That means 97 percent failure rate for HR.

Let’s add a basically positive number to all the negative results. Almost half of all Germans believe they can develop more creative ideas in a more motivating environment. An enormous, untapped potential! While managers discuss rationalizations, new machines or lean production, too many don’t seem to recognize the process optimization factor number one, the human. What wastes this could prevent will be illustrated by a final value from the study. 37 percent of all German workers stop to explore the labor market as soon as they feel arrived in a motivating environment. Is not loyalty the most valuable investment in times of skill shortages?

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Failure is no option

It’s your own fault if you go bankrupt: Either you were too naive or just not good enough. If you start again, don’t expect anyone to buy from you and no one to invest. If this seems unfamiliar to you, you haven’t had a business yet in Germany…

It’s strange. Three quarters of all Germans say that entrepreneurs who have failed deserve a second chance. But how does it look like with their own suppliers or service providers? Here, more than 40 percent of all Germans express deep concerns. They prefer to place their purchase orders elsewhere but at previously unsuccessful new starters. You think this kind of thinking is unnatural? Well, it’s the result of the study “Good mistakes, bad mistakes––how tolerant Germany is in dealing with failed entrepreneurs”. The survey recently published by the University of Hohenheim even revealed further contradictory figures. For example: 80 percent of our fellow countrymen are willing to accept failures. Mind you: general failures in all areas of life. However, the pollsters provide no answer to why this is not true for companies.

Why are apparently all humans allowed to make mistakes but entrepreneurs? Politicians, press writers and of course a lot of self-employed people agree: In Germany the often invoked so-called “culture of failure” lacks. And as the markets are fast-paced, this culture is all the more painfully missed. All the ideas and demands of today’s customers seem to be realizable only by all possible creative start-ups together––the best as well as the lost ones. Thus, failures are actually essential in a certain ratio.

Instead, the much-vaunted employee mentality still rules. Something which is regarded as typical German. This attitude seems to be very resistant among those whose okay makes the economic circuits run: the bankers! Almost no successful business start-up is possible without their loans. That’s what any entrepreneur learns very soon. Everyone who has to expand at the first major increase of demands of customers experiences this. Everyone learns it who must hire staff, purchase equipment or space––and gets no money for it from the banks. But as it seems, no bank employee puts his signature under the credit approval without a sophisticated business and investment plan for several years and without extensive market and location studies. Especially not in the days of Basel III with the most conservative and restrictive lending guidelines of all modern times.

Germany, Europe – that’s “old economy”. Step by step, brick by brick: Only those who have a solid foundation may plan a big house. Big dreams remain castles in the air. Haven’t the United States, hasn’t Silicon Valley been proving for decades that there is a much easier way to deal with starters? Trial and error is the magic word: Real learning can only be achieved by making mistakes. People with ideas are not regarded as “crazy” but “cool”. There is a much greater willingness to invest in innovation than it is here. Be it banks, investors or venture capital societies: The money lenders prefer to be the first to invest and earn from rising sales instead of thinking twice and losing time.

At least, there is one good value that the University of Hohenheim study has revealed. A positive value for the future. The tolerance towards failed entrepreneurs who start a second time is significantly higher among the young people than among the elderly. Sounds nice on the patient paper … well, but conversely it also means that for a long time to come, second starters are still in a disadvantaged situation. The necessary capital is still in the hands of the elderly, the bank bosses or even the leaders of the national Forbes lists who prefer to invest their billions in insular private villas and yachts or artificially bred soccer clubs instead of being role models and pioneers for a dynamic economy.

Internet, Smartphone, Communities, Social Media: Why do almost all the trends and fashions of our time come from the United States even though the income and purchasing power are not much larger than here? Because we over here only give proven tested concepts a chance. The lucky ones are only those entrepreneurs with flawless balances and references. However, the Germans also copy most of the failing concepts from overseas. Still there seems to be mistrust against our own possibilities.

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Refugees: A great opportunity for Germany

Not a wave of refugees but a wave of helpfulness comes over the country. And while tens of thousands of people are voluntarily helping the arrivals, the economy starts to recognize the large immigration as a strong potential. When will politicians share this point of view?

Germany in February 2015. In the news, the wave of refugees to Europe still played a minor role compared to IS bombings, Ukraine war and Greek crisis. Then the boss of the advertising agency Uniclube posted on Facebook: We want refugees for vocational trainings. What were the responds like? Hardly of any praise or recognition, not to mention helpfulness. Instead, masses of right-wing extremists posted their hatred, xenophobia and fear as answers. In the following months, we saw pictures of reception centers that were burning just before they would open. And we learned on television about towns like Freital or Heidenau where a nationalist mob violently protested against immigration as “foreign infiltration”.

Germany in September 2015. Meanwhile, the number of refugees on the way to central Europe reached an unprecedented degree. On the train station platforms of Budapest, where they are often detained by the Hungarian police, the people are shouting “Freedom, Freedom”. And: “Germany, Germany!”. And those who manage to get by risking their lives and against police brutality, now arrive to tens of thousands at the terminal stations of South Eastern Germany. Exhausted, but happy.

And the picture has changed––fortunately, for our “Land of Freedoom” and the refugees! It turns out that the majority of Germans show an unexpected lot of helpfulness. Countless volunteers provide the refugees who often saved nothing but their bare lives and a few shreds of clothes with meals, baby food and other urgently needed things. Suddenly, there are increasing voices from the business world, too, who state previously unexpected opinions or who have simply remained silent yet.

“The current wave of refugees is a huge opportunity for Germany,” says Sven Gábor Jánszky, director of the trend research institute 2b Ahead Think Tank. He even speaks of an unexpected gift. It will help our society to compensate the shortage of skilled workers due to demographic change and thus to safeguard our standard of living for decades to come. Today’s refugees are tomorrow’s payers closing the financial gaps of the pension system. In ten years already, the Germans will only be able to keep up their wealth with the workforce of these people as the old native workers retire and there are not enough domestic young ones to follow, so futurologist Jánszky predicts.

The trend scout is not alone with his opinion. The Employer Association’s president Ingo Kramer has frequently been quoted in a leading nationwide newspaper, speaking of a “great opportunity”. He even demanded faster asylum procedure from politics. Faster pro asylum seekers, of course.

What can companies already do today for their skilled workers of tomorrow? The agency Unicblue is just a prime example here. In the initial phase, practical life aid and coaching is certainly the most important thing that companies and their employees can do––be it as educator or mentor for children or teenagers. Or as translator or Legally qualified personnel for people who need to cope with German authorities without any language skills and experience. People may also be life aid volunteers whose company offers a part of the working time for that. But why not, if possible or beneficial, bosses, too?

Unicblue was looking for candidates who were motivated. Motivated candidates means young people who really aim to achieve something and make a living here––in “Germany! Germany!”. If they still can’t speak German? Then English would be sufficient for the start, as the agency said. The refugees may for example become carpenters (the company operates, inter alia, at trade fair booth constructer), media designer or office clerk.

The agency has actually employed their refugees since summer. The Facebook comments of today? No more hate but praise and advice. However, the agency received no help from politics yet. But while the local politicians and Eurocrats in Brussels are still discussing redistribution to other countries, at least the majority of decent citizens and many economists awake. Good news so far…

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