Corporate blog


It is becoming increasingly difficult to survive and grow in a rapidly changing, unstable world. It is like natural selection: if the environmental conditions change, it does not matter whether you are big or small, plodding or fleet of foot - you must evolve or die.

22 July 2016

It is becoming increasingly difficult to survive and grow in a rapidly changing, unstable world. It is like natural selection: if the environmental conditions change, it does not matter whether you are big or small, plodding or fleet of foot - you must evolve or die. Flora and fauna have not had time to evolve in line with the environmental conditions, but for the residents of the modern business jungles, selection has accelerated by a million times. And it continues its relentless acceleration. Like Lewis Carroll's Alice, we need to keep running just to stay in place, but to get somewhere, we must run at least twice as fast!

But HR tools seem to have become stuck in time. Apart from the increasingly active use of mobile platforms and game simulations for personnel selection and training, we have not invented anything new in the past few years. An HR manager still uses the same classic set: key performance indicators, individual development plans, annual performance assessment, staffing provisions, corporate universities, trainings, and so on.
This is not enough for start-ups or a company such as UMG, which is developing new lines of business.

And what should an HR specialist do in such a situation?

Imagine a new business being launched with new rules of the game, which requires new skills and competencies from its employees. Mandatory requirements: a quick result, minimum outlay of time and financial resources, and a high level of involvement of employees in the process.

Here are some guidelines on how to effectively implement a start-up culture and build your personal HR-formula.

1. The main task is to reveal and support the "spark" in the staff. As strange as it might sound, even in an industrial company, such a competency as entrepreneurship comes to the forefront. It probably sounds a little crazy for HR specialists: what does entrepreneurship have to do with industry? And yet this is the case. UMG is actively engaging people with a "spark" in their blood, with an entrepreneurial spirit woven into their DNA. It requires ability to see an idea that was not seen by others and, moreover, to take responsibility for the implementation of this idea. And, of course, to achieve the result, because it is by results that business performance is measured.
People of an entrepreneurial mindset should be supported and retained. You cannot just put them in the workplace and say: "Start from here, work till noon. And I will monitor and check you every 15 minutes." They need freedom. And so UMG needed to create the sort of startup culture that is inherent in the IT-sector. We have borrowed the most important thing from them: how to create the appropriate conditions for our employees and give them the opportunity to realize their potential.

2. "Vitamin pills". We all want to find "magic pills" - tools that can simplify and improve our job right from get go. There are applied solutions that really work. Of course, they are not a "magic pill", rather, they are "vitamins." One example is chess, which is more than 1,500 years old! You can read piles of books on how to develop the strategic thinking of your employees. You may attend a crazy number of training sessions - there are plenty of them out there now. But when you sit down at a chessboard in this reality, even if just for gaming, you need to think your way to success and calculate your strategic steps.

3. Reading and discussion. It is said that there are only two ways to become smarter: read clever books and talk with intelligent people. Well, these things are not mutually exclusive. That is why we actively use such "vitamin pills" as book clubs and debate clubs. Such activities help employees improve their public speaking skills and powers of persuasion, adapt to different roles, and rid themselves of the fear of public speaking and superfluous anxiety. They also allow employees to hear and produce effective arguments.

4. Build a team in a meaningful way. Standard team building does not work anymore, so a broader approach is needed to achieve team unity. For example, UMG employees regularly play football, basketball, and volleyball. And they go rafting and climb mountains, and all this is to achieve the common goal as a single team. Other "party pieces" include quests and mysteries. Through the medium of play and in varied compositions (when employees from different departments team up), solutions can be found to unusual problems with their help. Yet another interesting team-building tool is the Mafia game. Among other things, it teaches attentiveness, how to read one's opponent and how to spot details. Such skills are a great help during the negotiation process.

5. Search for creative solutions. To make your personnel management formula truly unique, you need to add flavor to it. At UMG, for example, we use exercises based on George Gurdjieff's psychodynamic practices. These exercises help achieve control over one's emotions, relieve tension, and quickly find a way out of a stressful situation. After all, when you leave your comfort zone in the form of a game, you acquire a skill than can be applied in everyday life and in business.

As you can see, these are just a few examples of how by having even just a few "low-cost" solutions, you can continue to experiment and build up necessary skills and values. For us, this represents a proactive approach, responsibility, entrepreneurship, creativity, and a focus on results.