Tecerians first

Fernando Polo

9 March 2015

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Employee engagement” is in fashion. On the one hand, the motivation of workers generates business results that can be accounted for in the income statement. On the other, consultants like Gallup or Towers Watson have been issuing warnings for years, about cumulative productivity losses due to the lack of commitment in organizations.

We, at Territorio creativo, also believe that “engagement” is the best possible strategy today, for ‘producing innovation’ – an especially pressing need in these extremely digital and accelerated times. And partly, therefore, we work hard to put ourselves, tecerians – the workers in our cooperative community, – ahead of any other priority.

In addition to having become book, #Lidertarios serves to give a formal structure to our “program management”: a manifesto that seeks to elevate the members of our cooperative community above hierarchies, information silos, inhuman rules and decrepit bureaucracies.

In the book, we talk about how Vineet Nayar turned things around at HCL, an Indian IT services company, when he took the reins in 2005; a reversal of the pyramid was proposed:

“We create value in a very specific site – in the interface between HCL workers and our customers. We call it the “zone of value.” The purpose of “Employees First, Customers Second” is to do everything possible to allow them to create maximum value for our customers (…). EFCS is not a human resources program; it is a management system.”

The productivity of internal communication and collaboration

A couple of years ago, a study by McKinsey analyzed many of the companies that were ahead in the use of digital and social tools from the perspective of organization and internal collaboration. That study concluded that improved communication and collaboration through social tools could increase the productivity of the interaction between workers up to 25%.


People first

Some stories in #Lidertarios help to explain what it means to prioritize the interests of the employees of an organization ahead of any other systemic interest. That is, to eliminate bureaucracy; to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes; and to extend affection regardless of status or situation. Many people find it strange when we explain that all our computers are Apple, and that we all use a corporate iPhone.

We do not know anyone that’s happy to work with a portable, low quality PC, and there are only a few people who continue to choose BlackBerry smartphones over the iPhone. Although we explain why it’s convenient to take holidays in August, not complying with a standard is looked on positively if one’s personal situation justifies doing so. Telecommuting is designed to make our lives easier. Not having schedules is, too. This is why taking personal calls is favorably looked upon, since nobody doubts a Tecerian’s response to emergency situations in stormy weather.

Putting Tecerians first helps our clients to understand why, in the age of digitization, the appropriate strategy is to put people at the center. Helping them to change this mentality will require great effort, and we can’t imagine any tool better than creating an environment where we feel privileged. We are aware of this freedom, as well as the responsibility it entails.

If the client is king, the employee is the emperor

Although it seems a universal law that ‘the client is king,’ to us, it now seems clear that putting our employees ahead indirectly generates maximum value to our clients. And, as we said in an email sent to all tecerians a year ago:

Should we always do what the client tells us to?

No. It doesn’t matter what others do. We want to build a service company that pays us for providing knowledge and vision. This means leading our clients, and on many occasions, it also means, “contradicting them.” Unless we learn to say no, we will suffer the rigors of being undifferentiated.

Should we educate our older Tecerians?

Yes. Most of those who hold the position of “director” at Territorio creativo come from very diverse cultures and backgrounds. And it’s hard for us to put Tecerians before customer emergencies and demands. If we want to build a relevant and unique company, we must lead, and learn how to say no, as well as how to substitute a “no” for a “this other thing is better.” We must be proactive and influential; be strict visionaries and experts.

Service, not servility

And we must learn to say no, with the maximum spirit of service (not servility) and with the greatest affection towards our clients, who not only pay the bills, but are also people, with their own family issues, and their professional problems in companies that are generally less people-oriented (that’s precisely what we’re working on with them, in fact.) This is the sort of empathy that characterizes us, and that will allow us to grow beyond the average.

In August 2010, we sent an email to a client. With care and civility, keenly aware of what we were doing, on a day when many people begin their holidays and the Spanish Government took the advantage to raise the price of petrol, we explained the reasons why we were going to “rescind” the service contract that we had with them: we weren’t the company that they needed. The way we were doing things was far from adequate and we didn’t feel that we were providing value. And we weren’t helping them in the least to put people at the center. With a tremble in our voices, we renounced a project that generated recurring income and paid salaries. But in doing so, we reinforced our vision, and especially the idea that the people that make up Tc are above all else.

And our clients have ended up thanking us.