In the following interview we take a look at the modern working world, and talk to Monika Kraus-Wildegger about “feel-good management” and her company GOODplace. Feel-good culture is trending in Germany right now. It places well-being of the staff at the center of the business.
GOODplace is a platform for feel-good culture. The company supports skilled personnel and companies in creating a sense of well-being and happiness amongst staff so that they are happy and productive at work. GOODplace has already been featured in a post about our favourite websites for professional development and guidance – we’ve been bowled over by the feel-good concept since the beginning. Monika Kraus-Wildegger has lived in Europe, Asia and Chicago, developed the Feel-good Manager profile alongside the Frauenhofer Institute, and is a trailblazer and expert in the field of feel-good management.
Ms Kraus-Wildegger, you are the founder of GOODplace – what’s your company all about?
GOODplace is a platform for a new way of working. We deliver our own professional training to advise and qualify skilled personnel and companies in feel-good management. Our motto is Feelgood makes work a good place!
How did GOODplace come about?
A few years ago, I was looking for a “good place” myself – happily, I came across companies that enjoyed a modern working culture. This meant the employee taking centre stage and making a positive, constructive contribution to the success of the company. It also meant a culture in which new topics such as Work 4.0 and employee satisfaction and engagement were not foreign concepts. I then realised that there were no ports of call for exploring these issues, so I founded GOODplace. In essence, I came to the subject through my own experiences.
Human Resource Management is responsible for work and people at work. So why do we need feel-good managers in addition to personnel managers?
Because feel-good managers are not a new breed of personnel managers; they cover totally different areas. What many people don’t quite understand is that feel-good management is not actually anchored in the human resources department. It’s all to do with management. This means that personnel managers won’t be stripped of any responsibilities, because feel-good managers focus on completely different competences.
In fact, the concept of feel-good management isn’t really top of the list in the personnel department. Instead, it is driven by managers and executives who are looking for a committed knowledge development manager. To motivate employees on a deeper level, a company must address their needs properly. However, of course this does not mean that each and every requirement can be met! Rather, it’s about communicating on equal terms. Companies who implement a feel-good strategy are often very successful, with digital business models that rely on well-trained specialist personnel.
How exactly can a feel-good manager help to create a positive climate at work?
Feel-good management is based on four pillars:
- Participation and
Feel-good managers help to encourage internal networking and an exchange of knowledge among employees. The feel-good concept isn’t just about fun, fruit platters or company outings. Feel-good management actually goes a little deeper, and invites employees to actively shape the working atmosphere. It is a way to gather genuine feedback, resolve conflicts and create framework conditions that will enable employees to do a good job.
The new Work 4.0 world requires knowledge to be processed and shared as swiftly as possible. This demands openness, trust and flexibility.
Could you give us an example of how a feel-good manager deals with cultural differences in the workplace?
In companies which rely on employees from other countries, a culture of welcome plays a key role. Onboarding is a way to build loyalty, to prevent the new arrival from handing in their notice – to great cost. There are a number of aspects to onboarding, including introducing the new employee in a large group, private meetings, assistance finding accommodation or dealing with official business, and regularly touching base with them to see how they are getting on.
What do you think: is it salary or a positive work climate that’s the key to creating happy employees?
There are lots of studies about that. On the whole, the package should be fair. The signal which companies send out with feel-good management is important. Salary is vital, but factors such as work-life balance are becoming increasingly important. People at the start of their career will usually opt for a high salary; their primary goal to begin with is to earn some money and reach a certain salary level. However, people with some professional experience behind them know what they’re worth and what the work-life balance means to them. Feel-good is a great selling point and a value that many skilled personnel are looking for.
How does one evaluate the work of a feel-good manager? Can results be numeralised and demonstrated?
The measurability of the initiatives is definitely important. This is another way in which feel-good management differs from human resources activities. Of course, the success of the feel-good management in operation can be measured on the staff turnover rate and thus the employees’ loyalty to the company. But there are so many external factors that prompt a turnover in staff, so these kinds of ‘concrete’ evaluations must be viewed with caution. What is actually not included in the staff turnover parameter is the way in which people part ways and whether or not it has been properly communicated that the door is always open for their return. Another way to measure the success of feel-good initiatives is to take part in feel-good initiatives.
From research, we know that a firm’s company culture can have a positive effect on its business success. Does this apply to feel-good management too?
As yet there hasn’t been much research into feel-good management. We often sneak a peek at other disciplines, for example Psychology. Fascinating studies have discovered that companies with an employee-centred working culture are more successful on the stock market.
The media is currently going wild about the trendy topic of feel-good management. Are executives equally thrilled about the subject?
In order to develop an interest in a particular topic, executives need to have reached a certain degree of maturity, either personally or as a result of their industry experience. Quite often, it’s executives from the world of IT and consulting that are most intrigued. They are open to genuine feedback and changes. They know that a different approach is required in order to retain skilled personnel and keep up with digital change. People also have to understand that company culture does not simply happen at the touch of a button.
Who can undertake training to become a feel-good manager?
Interested parties often hail from the fields of HR, Office Management, Coaching, Communication and Personal Assistance. Theoretically, however, any field is suitable provided you have some professional experience and can demonstrate distinct soft skills. Training is not recommended for fresh university graduates, as time is needed to have learned about the particular structures that dominate in a company.
Many thanks indeed for this exciting insight into the world of feel-good management!