One strategy to become a competetive and attractive employer is to treat your employees as your customers. A workplace should consist of more than sales and sallaries. Meaning is of greater importance. David over at 37signals wrote beautifully about this in “Put a dent in the universe“:

“To truly be inspired for great work, you need to know that you’re making a difference. That you’re putting a meaningful dent in the universe. That you’re part of something that’s making a difference and that your role in that something is significant.”

This is very true. The question is, how do you make your workplace significant? When you write PM’s, what are you focusing on? My guess is that you focus on how your product line will improve over the next months, how last months sales went and then you finish up with a promise about that upcoming mandatory holiday party you’ll be arranging. Where is the significance in this to me as an employee?

To me as an employee, it is useful to know the numbers, but only if my eventual feedback on these numbers will ever be considered and treated with respect. If not, I actually don’t give a damn. And why should I?

If your employees are limited to a box where they can post ideas about eventual improvements you might consider some time in the future, expect no love. The formal authority must be shared in order to open up for real love and practical use of the collective brilliance of your team.

I you as an employer look at your employees as your customers, you’ll constantly try to make your offer look and work better for them. You’ll always try to improve, and you’ll do your best to keep them more than satisfied. In fact, you’ll do your best to make them love your sweet deal. You want them to feel important, as if their work really mattered. And of course, it does. You can’t  fake this, if you’re clueless about how to approach this, ask someone for advices.

A basic course in marketing teaches you that your company have to have a story towards your customers. What story are you telling your employees? Or even better, what stories are you and your employees making, together? Do you have any tools for this? Are you sharing your love for your work with the world? In which way are your work improving the world? In which way are your work improving itself? In what way are you helping your employees grow? If your work isn’t developing the world right now, then change customers! Help your customers make the right choices. Make your work important!

One year ago I got an employment as a junior developer. Since then I’ve learned quite much, especially things about working as a junior developer.

Things that might be useful:

  • If you have someone more experienced on the office who could review your code before launch, insist on that they do it. She or he can tell you how they would have done stuff (and things you have missed), you’ll learn tons from it. If you’re lucky you might even get a mentor you’ll be able to ask questions, and who’ll be glad to review your code.
  • Just because you just got hired doesn’t mean that you should stop reading. Continue to read, write and evaluate your methods. This is a way to keep the work funny and interesting as well. Never stop learning.
  • Take initiatives, ask around. Take the chances you get to get to know your team mates better.
  • Ask your team mates what they are doing, and why they are doing it that way. Question everything.
  • Write down the stuff that you learn and share with others who are, or will be in the same position.

And then we have a few optional things that I personally do:

  • I keep my desk clutter free. At my workplace, it’s not a requirement or anything, but I just like to be able to focus on the screen and the tasks ahead of me.
  • Always show up early, or at least in time. This is not a solid requirement at my work place either, but I like to show up early, and then leave early. I tend to do the heavy tasks in the morning, and more light weight tasks in the afternoon.
  • Be polite and generous with compliments, remember peoples names and details about their personal life. But don’t pretend to be interested if you’re not. Falsehood always shines through.
  • Do your work. You might find this point very obvious, but I’ve seen enough people showing up at work to just spend the time procrastinating.

Most of these things are common sense, but you’ll be surprised of how many who wouldn’t agree with them. The important point is that you deliver what you promised, and that you do it on time. When you work in teams of more experienced people and you get to work with different projects (both fresh and uh-oh-so-old-and-completely-idiotic) you learn the most important things. The small things that no one ever seem to cover in those books that you read, or that tutorial that you walked. You learn things that could only be learned through hard earned experience.