A column by Bettina Demmer from our World of CONTRACT - Edition 01
As a managing director, I am surprised even by my own company. Companies are in fact people made systems, which have a tendency to behave in nonlinear ways.
In the past three years, we have extensively debated the approach of “Entrepreneurial Spirit.” In a number of cultural projects, we have worked with clients on the implementation of this approach. Many people from our team were involved and participated in the development process.
The drive and ideas for this development are born from our corporate culture with CONTRACT.
A clear customer orientation at our company is fundamental and goes without much mention. We also try to keep our company’s internal workings transparent to our employees. For example, every employee at any time has access to information about our economic situation. Each and every one truly knows where the company stands and how their contribution shows up. It is visible to all, on what projects management is currently working. It is the responsibility of each team to control its work load in their monthly meetings.
All employees are involved in strategic discussions. Contributing employees are awarded a share of corporate profits. Everyone is responsible for themselves and to some extent for the whole system. Knowledge is shared without any reservation. This is an entrepreneurial approach which we are proud of.
Discussing “entrepreneurial spirit” in projects with our customers has brought unexpected new momentum to our internal discussions, processes, and our own culture of entrepreneurial action. When we are looking for trainees, we advertise as “looking for junior entrepreneurs.” We adapted our internal Assessment Center leaning towards selecting for entrepreneurial spirit. By doing so, we triggered a discussion within our own ranks: How much potential for entrepreneurship does each individual have, how can we measure it for each individual, and how does our leadership perceive it or even promote it?
At CONTRACT, we have always had entrepreneurial attitudes and designed customer projects and framework accordingly; now we are having specific discussions about entrepreneurial spirit. We are debating employee’s personal opportunities and even as far as how to deal with restrictions within employees’ private lives, and the interdependence between “what does the company do for me” and “what do I do for the company?”
These conversations in particular are the ones that take us further: the agreement about perceptions, hopes, and evaluations, which are driven by honesty and mutual appreciation.
These thoughts are my views as a managing director. “Our junior employees” have started to engage even more actively in corporate management. Our staff has already announced to us that they will complete the annual manager’s feedback on the basis of our criteria for “Entrepreneurial Spirit.”
Side effects are very much a byproduct of great ideas and we are excited and curious as to where this will lead us!