Interview with Miquel Jordà
In general, many people often say “…it’s that this, in this sector, in this country, it’s not been done this way”. You have done things that are unheard of in the industry and in the country (working without sales goals, without commission-based salaries, without direct marketing actions, without a target of weekly visits…) How did you go about it? What made you think of doing it this way?
- I’m sure there are several possibilities and ways of doing any project, and quite possibly we would get the results we wanted by using several methods. I would say that naturally you end up choosing the one that you identify most with.
- From the first day that I took the lead with the Eurofirms project, I wanted the people who made up the team, as well as myself, to feel comfortable doing our work, in an environment of freedom and responsibility. Doing things with common sense and properly aligned in to our way of doing things…
How important is common sense, coherence and ethics? What role do values play?
- I think they play a fundamental role. When you carry out certain practices that are different from what is commonly accepted but are the result of common sense and are in line with basic humanistic values and carried out in a coherent business framework, they end up bringing good results. Everyone likes to be treated in a dignified way, to be respected, to share information, that people treat us fairly… pure common sense…
- It goes without saying that the results on a personal level are fantastic, given that on the one hand people value the work environment that is generated, and on the other hand the satisfaction you get when you lead a project with these results is priceless. Knowing that you are helping to improve social welfare and therefore that your business project is socially sustainable (as well as financially) gives me the greatest sense of gratification that I can have.
I have heard people say “this is Disney World” after hearing you, a fantasy world that does not work. Others conclude “this is a sect and the people are being secretly coerced”. What is your opinion on this?
- It is the first opinion that is formed before going deeper into what our organisation is. When people get to know us, it is clear that the system works, it is cost-effective, it has allowed us to grow at a pace that makes us unique in the industry, and we have achieved a highly satisfactory working environment.
- The thing is, something that should be normal, and I’m referring to our business model based on the well-being of people, is not common. And because it is unusual, the first impression is that “this is a sect”… “There must be coercion going on”…
- It is much more simple: it is a system of value based management implemented consistently over time, in an environment of freedom and responsibility.
- That’s fine by me if we are called Disney World, a sect, strange etc. What is important is that our company is different, cost-effective, that it is developing better than our competitors, that it has a positive impact on society and that the people who make up the team enjoy doing our jobs. It would be great if there were more Disneylands, we would prefer not to be the exception but the norm!
You have grown both through purchasing other companies, as well as organically. How do you integrate people who have come from the acquired companies? What are the major differences between the EUROFIRMS way of working and that of some of the ACQUIRED companies?
- Even I find it hard to believe, but it is extremely difficult to integrate the staff of the companies we buy, and the integration rate is usually very low.
- I believe that when you have spent time working in a company where you are measured by objectives, where you compete with your colleagues, where it is acceptable for a person who has good results not to be generous with their workmates… you can’t comprehend that Eurofirms has a corporate culture based on values in which collaborating with one another really is THE BEST way to work. As a result, you just do the work that you are “given” and stay in your comfort zone.
- For us, our employees’ proactivity is the main variable in their evaluation, in addition to sharing some values. You are either born with this or you aren’t. Knowledge can be assimilated with time, but if the person doesn’t want to serve, to act, to solve problems, they are not going to fit in our team.
We tend to think that temporary workers only work to earn money and that therefore there is little that can be done to motivate them or get them to value the differences between the Temporary Work Agencies (TWA). Is that the case?
- Everyone wants to be treated with respect, whatever we do and in whatever environment.
- Respect is one of Eurofirms core values, and in our company policy we define that we will treat the assigned worker as we would like to be treated ourselves.
- We try to make temporary workers feel comfortable working with us, and we not only care about the way our team treats them, but we have also implemented practices that have been spreading in the sector, such as faster payments.
- The result, in a survey that we issue annually, is that they see us as a better TWA than the rest. If they can choose to work with one TWA or another, they prefer us, and this is not due to a question of money, but rather the people.
Many people think that a sales team will not work if there is NO commission linked to objectives. In your team you have approx. 90 people in sales. How can a sales team work SO well without COMMISSION? What are the benefits?
- Variable commission is a system that aims to reward the results of a person on the basis of their effort, assuming that the more effort they make, the higher their sales will be. When well-defined and well-established, it is certainly a system that works reasonably well…
- However, we all know that this is not always the case. Depending on some extrinsic factors, a great deal of effort does not always translate into better sales than the rest of the team, and this can cause workers to become demotivated because it isn’t fair.
- Our system is based on management by values. We assume that the people who collaborate with us are responsible, and that their aspiration is to do a good job and be recognised for their effort. We establish a fixed remuneration, comparable to or greater than what they would receive in with a fixed salary plus a variable commission, with the very clear message: we trust you, and we know that you will do the best job possible.
- The system works very well if the people are truly conscientious. Because a conscientious person will have such high expectations of themselves that no variable remuneration system can live up to it.
- The advantages of this system, when well executed, are very high:
- A pleasant working environment
- A spirit of cooperation is generated instead of competitiveness between the sales team
- The salesperson works at a pace that is sustainable in the long term, and therefore the level of staff rotation decreases (they do not burn out with objectives that are impossible to meet).
- It is not necessary to allocate time for management to monitor the objectives or the variables.
- All of this ends up having an impact on the perception of the client, who becomes a loyal customer not just because they receive a good service, but also thanks to some people who enjoy doing their work.
EUROFIRMS is growing in the Netherlands and Portugal. Maybe later in other countries.What things stay the same and what things change when the company establishes itself in other countries?
- Each country is a different adventure, for the language, the culture, the legislation, customs, etc.
- But management by values is universal. As human beings we are all essentially the same, and I think that deep down we all share the same humanistic values: we like to be treated with respect, that people are open in their dealings with us, to feel useful in a free environment…
- Regardless of the country, at the moment, our experience is that the system of management by values is highly appreciated wherever we have established ourselves. This will continue to be one of the hallmarks of our company, and one of the core ideas that will remain in the management.
What, in your opinion, is the main responsibility of the directors? and of the business owner / managers?
- When you manage teams, on the one hand, you have the obligation to carry out what the Board of Directors have agreed, making decisions which are aligned with the strategic plan. On the other hand, as a person you have a moral obligation to contribute to a working environment that enables the people in your team to grow.
- As a business owner, the principal obligation is that your company is sustainable in the long term. To do that, it is not only necessary to have a good, profitable business model, but an organisation which will attract talent, to ensure that it is a desirable place to work and that the people who make up the team do not feel like “prisoners” of the company, but supporters of the company and decide to continue to grow in it of their own free will. In short, we have to offer the team an exciting project. And this only happens when you have managers who share this vision.