A new year is always a good moment for reflection. Living here in Spain for the past 23 years and observing the country’s evolution on many fronts, there’s one sentence that consistently crosses my mind – Spain, it’s time to do things ‘properly’.
A country, a government, a company, a family is made up of people. It is how those people act in the context within which they find themselves that determines results. And Spain’s results right now leave a lot to be desired. However, the bigger the gap between current and desired results, the larger the potential for growth.
Coming down to our world of ‘people in companies’, what advice would I give to those people who lead others? How can they grow and encourage their people to grow to fill that results gap? Here is what I would say:
- listen to your employees, really listen, don’t just play at it.
- leave your ego at the door
- forget about hierarchy, essentially it’s dead
- promote working flexibility
- always, always, always act with integrity
- admit your mistakes
- challenge your people to be the best they can be
- never ask anyone to do something that you wouldn’t do
- don’t sacrifice your personal values for company politics, in the end you will pay the price in stress
- respect your people’s time and work schedules
- commit to lifelong learning and development, how can you expect your employees to do so if you aren’t doing so yourself
- Always do what you say you will do, if you’re not able to do so, explain why
Virtually all problems stem from a lack open communication, and not acting with integrity, honesty and professionalism.
When I first came to Spain in 1989, several things ‘shocked’ me; one was the system of ‘enchufes’, giving people jobs irrespective of their skills simply because they were family members or friends. The second one was the ‘chapuza’ attitude of many Spaniards – doing shoddy work just to complete the task, getting away with the minimum amount of work possible, not caring. I’m happy to say that these attitudes are becoming less and less prevalent as Spain competes more and more in a world market. However, every action has a cause and effect, and some effects take years to materialize. I think this is what we’re observing here in Spain.
The behaviours listed above may seem insignificant to turn around a company and a country, but everything starts at the level of the individual and where those behaviours are demonstrated in a leader with influence, the momentum towards positive change can be huge.
I love Spain and its people for many reasons, and I’ve always felt excited to live in a country where there’s still much work to do in people management. Ending on an optimistic note, I began to see positive attitudinal changes a few years ago and I definitely feel that the movement is gaining much momentum due to the current economic crisis. The crisis is turning the country inside out, change is inevitable and long-overdue.
Yes, Spain, it’s time to do things properly and when you do the results will be magnificent!