Focus on people to get results

30 June 2023

BY PETER ØSTERGAARD, CO-CEO, DELEGATE

Peter Østergaard, Co-CEO of Delegate, shares his thoughts on leadership in a 'people' organisation with the people at the core.

In recent years, more and more people are asking for authentic leaders; leaders who walk the talk. In Delegate, we work with three fundamental values: "nærvær", reciprocity and recognition, and these values permeate our entire organisation. They are our guiding star for how we interact with each other, and they are, obviously, also reflected in the management, because we must practice what we preach and act according to our values.

That is why I am proud that Delegate has grown while we have stuck to our values about the human at the core. This was most recently expressed when, on 27 April 2023, we won Great Place to Work's awards for Best IT Workplace in Denmark and Best Workplace in Denmark for Young People.

In Delegate, our focus on employees is greater than our focus on customers. If our employees feel respected and recognised, they are happy to go to work. And if you are happy and motivated when you go to work, you also perform well, and, thereby, make the customers happy too. As a consequence of that Delegate make money and deliver what our shareholders expect. It is as easy as that.

"As a manager, it is my responsibility that the employees experience psychological safety in Delegate, and it starts with me daring to stand up and be vulnerable and telling about my own doubts and mistakes, because if you want to create a workplace with a high degree of psychological safety, it takes sincerity, honesty and courage."

Peter Østergaard
Co-CEO, Delegate

Agree, but not the same

Management of any organisation happens through other people, and, as a leader, you must make sure you have the right people around you. This does not mean that we must all be similar, but when you work in Delegate you must agree to our core values and share our common vision. This, however, does not mean that employees should not express their opinions. On the contrary. Innovative solutions rarely occur when we all agree on everything.

In Delegate, we have a flat organisational structure, and I want my employees to challenge me on my opinions and decisions. This is only possible to achieve if everyone feels a high degree of psychological safety.

Safety creates efficient teams

Research shows that the most efficient teams are also those where there is a high degree of psychological safety, so, for example, there is room to ask "Why are we actually doing this?" or saying "I am not sure this is really a good idea" without fear of how it will be received by the manager or the colleagues.

Psychological safety is achieved by creating a culture of openness, trust, and respect, where one dares to fail and where all voices are heard and appreciated. And it requires that everyone, especially the management, is willing to listen and accept feedback and constructive criticism and, not least, lead the way.

The leader must lead the way

As a manager, it is my responsibility that the employees experience psychological safety in Delegate, and it starts with me daring to stand up and be vulnerable and telling about my own doubts and mistakes, because if you want to create a workplace with a high degree of psychological safety, it takes sincerity, honesty and courage.

It requires that I am curious and meet my employees with an open-minded attitude and nourish the dialogue. But, as a leader, I cannot do it alone. My employees also have a responsibility to succeed in creating a high degree of psychological safety. And here it is a great advantage to have Delegate's basic values of nærvær, reciprocity and recognition as a common language for the dialogue – even when it might make someone feel uncomfortable.

Weekly measurements are one of the ways to ensure well-being

Today, companies are still assessed primarily by one thing only, namely finances, but in Delegate we have added a bottom line: employee well-being. Every week, we conduct well-being surveys, and the frequent measurements mean that we can constantly monitor employee satisfaction in relation to, for example, work pressure, work/life balance or cooperation with colleagues. We can see exactly where there might be challenges, so we can act on them quickly.

But the many measurements are worthless if Management do not allocate resources to review the employees' answers, and, not least, follow up on them. Because if the employees do not feel that there is taken any constructive action on feedback shown by the measurements, the metrics are irrelevant.

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