When I speak about the unusual experience at GUNA USA, people see the bright side and do not realize how difficult it is to give full trust to your team in order to start a real and solid change. Of course you hear about innovation in management at university or TEDx and never find it applied in real life especially because it didn’t happen to me and the majority of people I know to work at GOOGLE or Apple. Instead, I work in the old fashion industry called Big Pharma.
Making a cultural change in an established environment is a gutsy move and requires a lot of confidence in your decisions; that is not easy. Why? Because I am used to questioning my decisions, all the time but I don’t let my doubts hold me from implementing a change.
Especially in the US, a lot has been said about the perks that other companies and in general the giant tech offer their employees. Before starting the change with my team, I studied several managerial models and had I sudden realized they were creating a sort of welcoming micro-environment to keep people inside to stay at work late into the day. Hence, I wanted to go a step ahead and decided not to focus on the benefits that kept us at our desks, this was not what I had in mind. Instead, we had to aim for the opposite: in order to share freedom and build trust we should have encourage people to leave the indoors, go, and get outside.
We all started to keep work-out clothes in the office. I personally encouraged my team to get up and go take a run or bike the trails outside the office or work-out in our warehouse with the trainer who was with us twice a week. I pushed some of us to train for various competitions and set up personal goals. We got rid of rules, no time-clocks and took breaks when we wanted to.
Together with my team, we created a healthy lifestyle: the GUNA lifestyle. We introduced yoga once a week and meditation every morning. Often, meetings were held outdoors during walks or bike-rides because that was the best time to come up with great ideas. We learned to do breath-awareness from our life coach Bena Long and even changed our way of eating: organic produce was delivered to the office twice a week, herbal teas were available for anybody at work and time was invested to talk about positive changes to implement into our lives.
I firmly believe that having marketing and sales training will only take you so far. Behind every professional person is a great human being. It’s important to work on ourselves as human beings, so that we can contribute positively to the community or company we work for. If we want to make a positive difference in people’s lives, we need to start with ourselves. We should always emphasize the concepts of ethics, freedom and accountability. Those are the true values to work for.
The results of such changes? The annual revenues had gone from red ink to breaking even a year later. We confirmed the positive trend making profit in the years thereafter. Bless the company specialized in the well-being of the people working together, for them.