Influence of business culture and leadership on wellbeing at work

3.6.2019 Pinja Blog

Growing with the company

My 25-year career at Pinja brings an additional perspective to things. Pinja is not the same company today as it was 25 years ago. During this period, there have been many different tasks, stages and business cultures, for both myself and the company. Over the years, Pinja has changed from specialist companies led by strong individual entrepreneurs into a modern growth-seeking technological group employing 400 people and operating under the direction of capital investors.

I am proud of our achievements and the great past. Growth has required and will continue to require continuous change in business culture and particularly leadership.

During my career, I have worked at Pinja as chief executive officer of a business company, head of business area, technical director, operative director, financial director, technical architecture, project manager, code creator, server administrator, as well as in many other roles. I have had the possibility to view the company’s operations from many different angles.

Awakening to wellbeing at work

Teidellä pyöräilemässä

A long bicycle ride is the best way to refresh and give a rest to the brain stressed during work – also occasionally in a totally different environment.

During my career, work has taken a significant part of my time while awake. Many times, I have stolen time from a good night’s sleep, as well as from my family and friends. Even to me, a stubborn old mule, these years have gradually taught the importance of wellbeing at work.

Some years ago, I became totally obsessed with endurance sports and it has actually provided an immense counterforce to hard work. A long bicycle ride is the best way to refresh and give a rest to the brain stressed during work. However, I have to admit, that I usually think about work most of the time during the ride! Especially recently, I have spent more and more time during the ride thinking about the importance of wellbeing at work on the overall human wellbeing.

Three perspectives on achievement of wellbeing at work

An indefinite number of articles have been written on wellbeing at work and there must be hundreds of perspectives on it. I summarize the key aspects with three points that I personally have found the most important:

1. Relations between colleagues/workmates

It is an immense resource when people get along well together, encourage and help each other, play the same game, even trying to hit the same goal. Cooperative spirit is an unimaginably huge resource and becomes particularly emphasized in difficult circumstances.

Its opposite is a work community where management, cliques and individuals pursue their own interest trying to trip others.

In my view, particularly a strong hierarchical culture breaks the spirit. A director or manager is no more important than others but on the same level with all others. One important task of the management is to reduce the existence of a hierarchy with everyday examples. I can proudly state that this is today in quite a good shape at Pinja, as is described in Jaakko’s blog.

Cooperative spirit is an unimaginably huge resource and becomes particularly emphasized in difficult circumstances.

2. Overall purpose of the job

For motivation, it is extremely important that people can experience the joy of success at work. On the other hand, success requires that everyone can identify clear targets to strive towards in their work. Here, it is extremely important to recognize that a “one size fits all” approach is not appropriate, but it is necessary to genuinely identify individual strengths and set the targets accordingly.

Now, I want to emphasize that under no circumstances should this mean remaining in the “comfort zone”. A target once achieved is no longer a motivating target. Identification of strengths and supporting them is here the key, where a good and encouraging work community can be a significant factor. Here, too, the attitude and example of the management have a major impact, and this is what I keep reminding myself of every day.

3. Delimiting fires

One fire a day keeps one’s mind active. This is so true! I cannot remember a day during my 25-year career without a smoldering fire at some place. If such a day has ever existed, it was later revealed that someone had hidden the problem for the fear of negative feedback.

However, the number of fires and how they are handled play a significant role in wellbeing at work. When smolder spots are extinguished with clear and correctly delegated processes without apportioning blame, troubleshooting may become a very motivating target for certain personalities. I myself, for example, often feel immensely good after a problem has been solved. And it is even more pleasing when this has been achieved in good cooperative spirit, encouraging each other.

A few weeks ago, Jaakko presented the Monday parameter in his blog. I believe that if things referred to above are taken care of even in a sufficient way, the Monday barometer shows more green than red.

Health, hobbies and social relations

Fillarinhuoltotapahtuma 19

An exciting and motivating hobby with its framework of social interaction also supports wellbeing at work.

Although work and wellbeing at work play a significant role in the overall wellbeing of people, it is not permitted even at work to completely forget how people are outside of work. Health is a basis of everything, and family/human relations is another one. An exciting and motivating hobby with its framework of social interaction also supports wellbeing at work.

If some of these areas is not in order, it will inevitably be visible in wellbeing at work. It is not of course possible to influence all things but when you are in control of things, it is worthwhile paying attention to them.

For example, I neglected my health for the first 20 years during my career and – speaking from personal experience here – I can state that the difference in the performance of Janne in the past and Janne now is notable. In poor physical condition, with 50 kg overweight, smoking, I spent a notable number of hours at work but the input/output ratio was not so great. Also, health problems made me sometimes rather a nasty piece of work to people around me.

Nevertheless, maintaining a healthy lifestyle should not be taken too seriously. I hold on to that there must always be time for a couple of beers with good friends. Beer also tastes better after a goal achieved! No matter if this goal is a bicycle ride or a jointly suppressed fire at work. But only a couple beers, since “one is good, two is bad, three is too few”, as the saying goes in my country.

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Janne Hakala-Ranta

Kirjoittaja Janne Hakala-Ranta

Vice President, Operational Excellence; COO, Pinja; intohimoinen pyöräilijä, kiinnostunut hyvästä oluesta ja ruoasta sekä matkustelusta.