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BLOG: The business of conversations

Zafar Anjum | June 9, 2011
Eight golden rules to keep your employees happy—from Kevin Panozza.

No company will admit that it wants its employees to be unhappy. In action, that's what they do-intentionally or not, that's how most companies appear to their employees: a promise belied, and a source of great unhappiness. All that the humble worker sees at his workplace is a ruthless management that only cares about its bottom line and colleagues who are wolves in sheep's clothing.

Companies that don't care about employees can never become great. Ladies and gentlemen, that's not just a nice cliché. That is the message of entrepreneur Kevin Panozza who gave a mind-blowing presentation on 1 June at Alcatel-Lucent's "Change the Conversation" event.

Kevin is presently the CEO of Engage, a ground-breaking Customer Contact technology and soft skills enhancement provider - a joint venture with the Clemenger Group and key technology and operational executives formerly of the SalesForce management group. He is famous for having started SalesForce in Australia in 1993s with 14 people serving the customer needs of airlines company Ansett. It grew to employ 5,000 people across Australia-and became the largest provider of outsourced Customer Contact solutions in Australia and New Zealand.

SalesForce was notable for Innovative Customer Contact technology solutions based on the world-leading Genesys CTI software and for winning three successive Hewitt Awards for being the best workplace in the region.

Kevin sold the company in Jan 2005 but resigned two years later, disappointed with the imperatives of the new owners.

Kevin loves talking and businessmen like him are thriving in today's "conversation economy". "Talk - that's the marketing strategy that's worked best for me, which is why SalesForce claims that markets are conversations," Kevin said in an interview. "Conversations - that's the business we're in."

During his talk, Kevin shared eight rules of engaging the employees (how to keep them happy) that I think every manager and CEO should pay heed to. They are as follows:

  • Like everyone (celebrate the employee's individuality)
  • Be flexible (that is, avoid rule-driven behaviour)
  • Avoid grey (add lots of colour to the workplace)
  • Communicate with your staff (they should not feel isolated)
  • Don't take your employees for granted (recognise them with awards and rewards)
  • Ensure proper induction of new employees (don't throw them into the deep end)
  • Provide opportunities for team development (don't let the employee feel that there's a lack of career opportunity in the company)
  • Make the jobs interesting (avoid boredom and tediousness)


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