Treat Your People Right

I strongly believe that work should be a fulfilling and even enjoyable part of each of our lives. We spend a lot of time working, and for many of us it is the main ways we contribute to our communities and society as a whole.

Like many companies, Nolte is a knowledge business, which means that the skill of our people is at the core of what we provide to our clients. Process and smooth talking is a difficult foundation on which to build a business, I know from the stressful experience I lived through. Having great people along with a culture of delivering great work is the only sustainable way. But it’s a two-way street, great people will only join and stay if you treat them right. This article explains some of the ways I believe we make a difference.

Treat them like adults

You hire people who are responsible of delivering great work. You expect them to proactively identify risks, communicate with the client, design solutions and implement them. Yet you treat them like children!

This is a particular bug-bear of mine in my home country of Mexico, where it is common to have strict controls over employee’s time (you must be at your desk by 8:30am and leave at 6pm, you have 1 hour for lunch from 2-3pm, no slacking!). Added to this are expectations that you will work late when necessary, but nothing is given in return (Mexico actually has the longest working week of any country in the world). My wife, Ellie, used to work for an insurance company many years ago and at month-end her team would be waiting until mid afternoon to receive the data they needed to run their processes late into the night. This would go on a for a few days every month, she would arrive home as late as 3am and be expected to be in the next day at 8:30am, just to kill hours doing nothing whilst waiting for the next day’s iterations. WTF? This is bureaucracy gone mad, how does this strict time keeping only work one way? How do you expect your staff to think on such little sleep? Never mind the impact on their health and family life. Unsurprisingly, she quit.

My view is that the type of adults we want to employ can organise their own time. We don’t dictate any start, stop or break hours. We don’t even have any limits on vacation time or where you work from. We trust our team to do the right thing for themselves, their team mates and our clients.

Bend over backwards to give them what they need

To start with, your team needs the tools of their job: a computer. Get them a good one that will help them be as productive as they can. On top of that they need a great working environment, whether that be office space or home office – it should have the resources they need to be comfortable, productive and healthy.

They also need growth, few people are happy to stagnate. We sponsor training and are working to define career paths for all of our team. We go above and beyond, for example providing regular English lessons to a number of our team members. And of course be generous with your time and expect the rest of the team to do so too, our job is to enable our teams to grow, not just to deliver for our clients.

This is really the base level. From there I am present to the fact that work is an integral part of our lives, not something to be balanced (implying a never-ending battle between work and home life). Invest in your team’s wellbeing, and support them in their family lives. We provide health insurance for the whole family, an allowance to spend on wellbeing, plus we run initiatives to understand how our team our feeling and take action where needed.

The final part is where we really bend over backwards. Say an employee comes to you with a personal problem, what do you do about it? Regardless of whether you consider it directly impacts their work, let’s use our resources to support our team. And let’s go one step further, by proactively asking our team members what their personal goals are, let’s not limit ourselves to professional goals. I view us as one big team in life, our shared goal: a fulfilling and successful life for all Nolteñ@s.

Share the spoils

Celebrate success, both in work and personal lives. Be generous with positive feedback, and expect your team to do so too. Be generous with your cash, your people helped you earn that.

One nice thing in Mexico is the PTU, which legally obliges companies to share 10% of their profits with their staff. At Nolte we have extended this to include all employees worldwide, considering the company’s worldwide profit. This has the added benefit of aligning your team to your goal of a healthier bottom line.

In Summary

Treat your staff right and they will treat you right. They will do great work and they will stay loyal. And you may feel good about the impact you’re making on the world.

5 Tips To Stay Focused In A Distracted World

As someone who has struggled with distractions, I’ve always looked for ways to improve the way I spend my time.

Running a business is demanding but can also be extremely rewarding if your time is managed properly. When I did not manage my time properly I made personal sacrifices which resulted in resentment towards the business. After years of trying exploring techniques to balance my time my relationship with the business has greatly improved resulting in a healthy work/life balance.


The Impact of Distrations

In an article from Atlassian, the illustrate how much of negative impact distractions in the workplace have.

56

Interruptions per day for the average employee

3

Minutes spent working before the average employee switches tasks

2

Hours spent on average recovering from distractions per day

80

Percentage of distractions per day that are considered trivial

36

Times the average employee checks their email in an hour

16

Minutes spent refocusing after handling an incoming email.


I’ve personally experienced much of the above and recall a time where my day would take complete ownership of my life due to allowing myself to get distracted and external factors control my time. The following are some of the easy and accesisble tips that I’ve found to help me live a less distracted life.

1. Meditate

One review of 23 different studies found that in general, people who’ve been meditating for just a few months perform better on tasks that test their ability to shut out distractions, while longer-term meditators show a markedly improved ability to maintain focus for especially long periods of time.

  • Use an app like Headspace
  • Practice regularly, ideally daily
  • Reward yourself for practicing consistently

2. Create a Distraction-Free Environment

Invest time in removing distractions from your working environment to optimize how your time is spent. Distractions can come from people, devices, and yourself.

  • Turn off notifications
  • Turn off / stash cell phone
  • Keep a tidy inbox
  • Block task time in a calendar
  • Work offline
  • Keep a tidy workspace
  • Inform others to not disturb

3. Use Timeboxed Intervals

Timeboxing is a heads-down approach to focusing on a task within the confines of time. Timeboxing can be used for both work and play. Timeboxing Much relates to a psychological principle called Parkinson’s Law, which states that work will expand to fill the time you allow for its completion.

  • Use your calendar
  • Commit to the start/stop time
  • Timebox leisurely activities and work

4. Plan Your Objectives

The simple concept of planning combined with other methods will drastically help you both set and reach your objectives. Breaking down your tasks and prioritizing what will be most impactful ensures you will close out your day feeling fulfilled resulting in less stress.

  • Plan before starting anything else
  • Prioritize don’t over commit
  • Focus on one large or 2–3 smaller tasks per day
  • Use estimations to assess tasks
  • Identify and focus on dependencies first

5. Limit Work In Progress

Leveraging from production and agile methodology work-in-progress or WIP refers to the number of tasks being worked on at one time. When focusing on starting a task and driving it to completion you can accomplish more. This method eliminates the buildup of tasks and bottlenecks.

  • Define what “done” means for a task
  • Break large tasks into small ones
  • Close other windows/apps
  • Use a todo app or task manager

In summary, there are a million ways to get distracted and many effective ways to avoid getting distracted. Building a healthy practice in which you learn from your failures to develop healthy habits can be immensely impactful for living a fulfilling life.


A value of ours at Nolte is to Help Others Grow. To embrace this value, each member of Nolte produces content for Nolte Lightning Talks on our YouTube channel. This article is an excerpt from my lightning talk presentation (video below)

Have a great tip on how you stay focused or have any questions for me? Leave a comment below and I reply ASAP.