The Hidden Powers Of Coaching

By Ganpy

Corporate Coaching is highly under utilized. Why is it important?

Coaching

If you look around, you will see how the role of coaches is very well understood in the world of sports. Athletes recognize the significance of the roles played by their coaches at various stages of their careers. A great coach is needed in order to help you reach your maximum potential, no matter which sport you are in. And in the process, the athlete not only strives to reach his/her maximum potential but also gains self-confidence and ends up improving overall performance.

But when it comes to the corporate world, why is it hard for us to find similar examples of organizations having come to similar realizations? There are some companies that have understood the value of coaching, but even where the value of coaching is understood, it is often provided only at certain levels. Executive coaching and Leadership coaching are the two most commonly invested coaching functions in corporations. However, this is a flawed understanding of the role of coaches in the corporate world.

Coaching is essentially a conversation or exchange of thoughts/ideas, structured in a formal way in order to focus on what really matters to the employee and to the employee’s relevance to the organization. This is why coaching should happen at all levels, and not just at the executive or leadership levels. Coaching is supposed to get down to the deep end of the problem, i.e. to the core of the issue.

Coaching sessions can be built in many ways:

1) Manager -> Employee
2) Peer -> Peer
3) Peer -> Peer (across departments)
4) External -> CEO

Coaching programs should be well structured and scheduled. In many ways, Coaching can be considered a new way of employee training, but with an individual focus.

Unlike the executive coaching sessions, which were originally designed to deliver specific measurable results through specific targets and goals, it is important to note that corporate coaching has been shown to have a much bigger ROI than the regular corporate training.


What Is Corporate Coaching?

Corporate coaching is not a form of classroom learning like typical training programs. Corporate coaching is motivational, and it strives to inspire employees to reach specific goals. This type of coaching focuses on the individual, their happiness, and what they can do to help the company be successful.

A good corporate coaching session teaches employees to maximize productivity (hence profits), without being too forceful on any other people who may work with them. An ideal structure of corporate coaching results in top-down absorption. When it works from the top-level, it changes the way an organization operates. Once executive leaders of the organization start acting differently, then the changes from the top work their way down. Needless to say, this results in organization changes.

What Corporate Coaching Is Not

Corporate coaching is not life coaching, however close it may sound like. Corporate coaching teaches strategies and tactics geared towards tangible improvements/goals. Since every organization is different, the coaching structure is never set in stone. Corporate coaching methods are not a one size fits all solution for problems. Everyone is different, and so are the answers to the problems each organization tries to solve.

Why Executive Coaching is important?

Corporate coaches help executives reach high levels of excellence. And typically the coaches for executives are external coaches. The most effective way of coaching starts from the top and it should work its way down, for transformation to start from the top and migrate to the bottom. Corporate coaching can transform an organization’s performance by strengthening executive talent. Improving executive talent improves performance by enhancing leadership strengths that coincide with business goals.

Team Development

Best successes are attained when team development starts from within – inside out. Corporate coaches believe that members of a team intrinsically know the problems a team is facing, and hence they often are the best suited to offer solutions and ideas.

A corporate coach tries to bring these problems to light by encouraging team members to speak up about problems and creating a safe environment where differences can be discussed. These can be achieved through various means. Personal meetings, workshops, seminars, webinars, online tools, etc. Corporate coaches design and administer surveys/feedback lists to analyze team data for strengths and weaknesses to identify where developments need to happen. A corporate coach will teach leadership, corporate culture, communication and working relationship management.

As it is hopefully clear by now, corporate coaching has always remained important, but it’s just that more and more people are beginning to identify with it and understand the significance of it, of late.

We will talk in detail about how to go about building a strong and an effective coaching culture in another blog post.

How to handle haters at work?

By Ganpy

How to handle co-workers who don’t like you or make it difficult to work with?

The topic of this blog post is sort of ‘on your face’. In other words, it doesn’t try to sugar coat the gist of what it wants to say and that’s the idea.

Often, you have supreme confidence on yourself and your own likability. You think everyone should like you and you easily dismiss the idea of anyone finding it difficult to work with you. Because you are that good. You pride yourself of the fact that you rarely or never have conflicts at work.

And then one day everything changes. You have a new co-worker. He or She is assigned an adjacent cubicle. And for some inexplicable reason, he/she just seems to absolutely detest you. He/She doesn’t hold punches when it comes to refuting or counterattacking your point of view in a meeting, or doesn’t hide his/her contempt when you present a new idea, etc. This colleague avoids you at all costs and you get the feeling that he/she may even be hatching a plan to work against you behind your back to get you out of there.

As far as you know, you haven’t done anything in particular that would have irked this colleague. You have no inkling as to why this colleague may be on what seems like a personal mission to go after you. Why does he/she hate you?

And more importantly, how can you make him/her your friend?
Can you?
Should you?
The answer is never simple, and it depends on many factors.

Yes, it’s human nature to want to be liked by all, to be precise, well-liked by all. A work environment where everybody gets along perfectly well with everybody else is an utopian office. Doesn’t exist. So, more often than not, learning to work effectively with colleagues, even when they aren’t your thickest fans or friends is crucial to productivity and overall success.

When you are in a hostile work situation like above, here are some tips/steps that you can incorporate in your day to day working mode, to see if they help make a difference. They are not necessarily an exhaustive list. But some sort of a guide.

Taking a Step Back

When you find out that someone in your office doesn’t like you, your first inclination might be to obsess over your relationship until you get some answers. What does he or she have against you? Did you do something offensive?

But, as tempting as that analysis might be, it’s best if you step back and take a deep breath rather than immediately springing into action. Remember, nobody can or will blame you for wanting to make sense of the situation. It’s also important to understand that people’s feelings aren’t always logical. If they are, then most conflicts of the world can be resolved logically, to create an ideal world. Can’t they be? So, remember that the reasoning behind this colleague’s negative vibes for you just may never make sense. It’s alright.

Accepting the Fact that There is Someone Who doesn’t Like You

It would of course be great to know that everyone liked you, forever. But that’s not realistic. Think of a most popular person from your local history or world history or from your contemporary crop of icons/heroes/people whom you respect. If you read their life stories, remember, you will realize that they all had their fair share of negativity and criticism lodged against them.

So the best thing you can do for your own sanity and professionalism is to just accept that this person will never be part of your best friends circle and won’t be starting up a fan club in your honor. It’s your responsibility to find ways to collaborate together on day to day work related tasks, without arguments and unnecessary and uncomfortable tension. On top of this, there is really no compulsion for the two of you to be friends outside the office.

The quicker you can come to terms with your co-worker’s dislike, the better off you’ll be. At the end of the day, your goal is your productivity and not earning his liking.

Deciding Your Behavior and Course of Actions

This is the most important phase. That’s to decide whether or not your office situation, aka the tension between the two of you requires further action. Is it something you need to talk over one on one? Or is it better left alone?

Figuring out what types of your colleague’s dislike behavior towards you should make you let go vs which warrants confrontation is tricky. If the dislike behavior includes simple acts like shrugs, making faces, smirks, etc., then may be letting go is not a bad option, because sometimes confronting a colleague could actually make it worse.

On the other hand, if your colleague’s behavior towards is you directly affecting your work, then you might need to take action, that is to speak with him/her in order to clear the air. Try to break the ice by having some simple conversations.

“Hey, xyz! I have been noticing that there is some negative tension between us and I want to understand if any of what I am doing is bothering you. I want to make sure we work together well for this project. Just let me know please..”

It is very much possible that what you are doing (unconsciously and without any harmful intent) may be bothering the colleague. If that’s the case, then clearing the air always helps.

In some cases, your one on one conversations or your attempts to let go off may not be enough. In those situations, you need to talk to your manager about this. Once you bring this to the attention of your manager, then effectively the ball has moved off your court to your manager’s court.

A couple of things to remember as you work through your workplace situation and come up with a plan:

1) You can’t control other’s feelings or actions, but you can control how you react to them. If possible, take the high road and always treat your colleague with respect and integrity. It’s not easy to do so. But if you can, it is a better option.
2) In an ideal world, everyone would adore you and jump with excitement at the prospect of working with you. That unfortunately is not always the case.

It’s unavoidable that there are times in all our careers that we get to work with people who would rather avoid working with us. So, it’s important that we all learn how to handle and cope with such situations, as the real goal for all, including the colleague who doesn’t want to work with you, is really to complete the task in hand successfully.

May be you can put these tips above into action, when you encounter a hostile work environment and focus on getting your work done.

Note: Please read ‘The Benjamin Franklin Effect’, a very interesting and surprising psychology to handle haters (not just workplace, but in general).

Paradise in the making…

By Victor Ruiz

Discovering the key elements and behaviors that contribute to creating strong & cohesive teams, that work together to achieve goals, in a healthy and a happy working atmosphere

Employee engagement can be described in many different ways, maybe as many ways as people attempt to define it. Possibly, all definitions are correct, some may be more complete or accurate than others, but I guess all of them have points in common and they help to understand the concept. If you have been following our blog regularly, I am sure, by now, all of you have a clear idea & understanding about our definition/interpretation of the employee engagement issue.

So, what if we forget about definitions and concentrate on the main objective of employee engagement?

If you have to pick a single objective, what would it be?

I am completely convinced that the answers to this question would be much more similar than the definition of the concept of “employee engagement”.

Recently, Glasswork announced its list of the 50 best places to work in 2017. Based on employee feedback, the ranking includes companies with more than 1.000 employees across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. As we read the list, one question comes to our mind. Are there some characteristics shared by all those places?

From a general perspective, we all can agree that the mission of employee engagement is to build the best possible workplace. This seems very simple, but what does it mean? Which elements should work together to build a great workplace? Well, that is the aim of this article, in which I will try to identify those key elements and behaviors that help to create a strongly engaged team, that works together to achieve goals in a happy atmosphere.

Respect and freedom

Where do we start? One of the most important things is to make employees feel important and valued inside the company. If you accomplish this, the game is half won. A good place to start is by explaining employees the mission, vision, values and goals of the company, and especially how would they fit into it. By doing so, managers show their team members, that they are fully conscious of their potential, and that they have a game plan in which employees play an active and strategic role inside the team. It would make them feel like they matter from the very beginning, generating instant motivation. It is also important that the company provides training courses and/or learning programs for employees to show they really care about their professional growth.

Respect and freedom go together as essential in any company that wants to become a great workplace. We are referring to employees sharing their thoughts, ideas and suggestions with absolute freedom. Respect is implicit in this. Engaged employees don’t only want to perform the tasks they are assigned, but also want to participate in the decision making processes of the company. Restricting decision making to the senior or managerial staff is a way of reducing the possibilities of finding good ideas, because they can come from any member of the team. A good company to work must empower employees to be proactive making contributions and decisions.

Freedom also implies information and communication, which should be multidirectional and transversal, working without departmental restrictions, so that all the members of the team are considered to be at the same level. Communication in such environments are enriched due to collaborations with partners from other divisions and/or with other backgrounds.

Team players

In line with this, the concept of ‘team’ is crucial in creating a healthy working environment. Companies should build a culture in which managers and employees have the sense of belonging to a team. Everyone must realize that they are part of a team and they are not just a bunch of individuals. When team members operate individually without connections, each one goes in a different direction and no progress is made. People work better when they help each other, in a collaborative environment and then everybody is involved in making the team grow stronger, playing together, rowing in the same direction. It doesn’t matter who gets credit because all the goals are achieved together as a team.

‘Team’ is a term that we can relate to work, but this is not only about working all the time, so we need another concept to illustrate that other side of the workplace. ‘Camaraderie’ fits very well into it. It is highly improbable to love your work if you don’t have fun at the workplace. Camaraderie is about having fun at work and form friendships with your co-workers, something that happens in an environment, that fosters the conditions for people to be themselves, feel free and share anecdotes, jokes and laughs. Employees should feel at home. This is essential to break the daily routine and have a chance to relax from the stress of the often exhausting workload, as well as to strengthen bonds within the team.

Recognition

Last, but definitely not least, we have a fundamental pillar in workplace environment, recognition. In companies with poor working culture, it is common that employees don’t receive any kind of feedback on their work until they make a mistake. On the other hand, great companies make sure that their employees are recognized for their work.

Employee recognition is a question of pure empathy. Taking into account that your employees are the ones in charge of the success of your business, it is a matter of how important it is in your scale of values. The more you care about your employees, the more you care about your success. Managers must raise awareness of the importance of recognizing the work of their employees. With little effort and no cost, they can achieve big wins if they keep team members motivated and engaged with just a few sincere words of encouragement. After all, maybe the only thing that we seek is to be recognized for what we do. As simple as that.

These are the fundamentals of a good workplace.

Of course, there are many other important aspects to consider, but we tried to keep it as simple as possible just so that we begin with a solid background.

It is certainly not easy to turn a poor or non-existent organizational culture that makes employees want to leave, into a great culture in which people would desire to take part, overnight. It requires time, hard work, dedication and the will to change the core values of the company and instill them in the workforce, but let there be no doubt..

It’s worth the effort! Totally.

HR Tech Conference and Expo – Part 2

By Ganpy

Well, it looks like we are two weeks too late (at least). I had promised that we would report back from the conference the week after the conference. But, better late than never. So here I go.

The highlight of those few days at the conference actually was not anything specific that happened in Chicago but it was us receiving the news that we have been picked as one of the Top 100 HR Tech solutions to look out for by none other than William Tincup of Recruiting Daily. Here is the complete list. Now, this is just a list and we completely understand that. But we also realize that being recognized as a company and as a solution to look out for by an industry thought leader is a huge honor and this we hope will motivate us to seek perfection.

Being in the startup pavilion has its advantages and a few disadvantages as well. The biggest advantage is the fact that we get to share a lot of time with so many new startup entrepreneurs who are so full of ideas and passion in the pavilion. But the biggest disadvantage is that when you have small exhibit table, you could get completely lost and become unnoticeable, in a huge exhibition floor like the one we had in Chicago.

Overall, we had a tremendous response on Day 1 and Day 2, while Day 3 was slow as expected. We also got some good feedback from some of the potential clients who stopped by. Employee Engagement is certainly a hugely talked about topic and issue in the industry right now. More than ever. It also means that there is already a lot of noise around this topic. It could be very hard for a customer to pick up the right message from all this noise.

And that has been our biggest takeaway from the 2016 HR Technology Conference – To be able to fine tune our message so that we can cut through the noise in the marketplace, in order to reach our customers whom we want to benefit from a solution like ours.

Thus begins a new journey for us. One that entails charting out a noise free path with a fine tuned message.

Signing off,
Ganpy.

Some pictures from the conference.

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HR Tech Conference and Expo 2016

By Ganpy

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Dear Readers,

This is to let you know that both Thorsten and I are excited to be at the HR Tech Conference and Expo in Chicago between Oct 4 and Oct 6. If you are going to be at the conference, please stop by the Startup Pavilion and say hello to us.

With HR Tech finally beginning to get the kind of attention it deserves, this year promises to be a great opportunity for so many customers and HR Tech Vendors to come together to share the latest ideas. For our part, we are naturally very thrilled to give a glimpse of Cabaana to the HR Tech world, especially our US customers for the first time. We hope to trigger a healthier conversation with customers in the Employee Engagement space, by bringing a different but a critical focus to the problem, which most companies haven’t yet come around strategizing for their businesses.

Thorsten and I will share our experiences from the conference through a blog post in the coming week.

Meantime, you can follow us on Facebook or on Twitter for more regular and more periodic updates from the conference.

Cheers!
Ganpy.

Newsfeed is the New “Water Cooler”

As we all know, water coolers do more than just cooling water. It’s the place where employees connect and share the latest news – so why not taking this online? Welcome to Cabaana’s Newsfeed!

By Victor Ruiz

When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home – Betty Bender, motivational speaker
When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home – Betty Bender, motivational speaker

During any regular day at the office, workers need that little moment of breaking away from the workload. Either you call it water cooler or coffee machine, there is little doubt on the benefits of the casual ambiance such a place offers to engagement and productivity, when it is used in a responsible way.

A little chat between peers by the water cooler may be very useful, almost a necessity, when we feel overwhelmed due to the amount of work, but such chats can also be a fantastic way of brainstorming and sharing ideas and information.

For many years, the water cooler has been a synonym for relief and also a symbol of engagement at workplaces, in the sense of breaking up day-to-day monotony and starting a casual chat with your co-workers. Many companies who have realized this have always encouraged such exchanges between its employees because such conversations not only strengthen working relationships, but they even help transform work relationships into personal friendships. Both such relationships (work and personal friendship) help forge stronger bonds that contribute to create a sense of belonging to the company, which will pave the way for the pursuit of common goals.

So many nice stories have been built and told around water coolers. I have mine too, though in my story, the water cooler is substituted by a coffee machine.

Just another water cooler story

Around a decade ago, I was working at a local radio station as a writer and a presenter, but more as a writer. One of my colleagues there was Lucas, a friendly guy and a hard worker with whom I still have a good friendship, in part thanks to memories like this that I’m going to share.

On a cloudy and bleak winter Tuesday morning, our boss at that time, who was the editor of a daily sports news programme, asked us to write a story to connect the different news of that day. Honestly, we had no idea what to write. Due to organizational reasons, our desks were in different rooms, so we accorded to brainstorm individually and then try to share our ideas to check if we could build something minimally “acceptable.”

After half an hour with the mind in a blank state and the pressure increasing, I decided to go to Lucas’s desk and tell him about my frustration. He was in the same situation, so we went to the coffee machine to take a break and try to ease our minds. As you can imagine, we were fed up with trying to build that story, so we began to chat about trivial stuff like what we did the last weekend and shared some anecdotes.

A couple of minutes later we started talking about sports, our shared passion. Then, magic happened. We began to come up with fresh ideas that could be the beginning of the end to our nightmare. Suddenly, we found the way to make that story grow. In what may be considered as an act of superstition, we moved our desks next to the coffee machine. I prefer to see it as a gesture of thankfulness towards that sacred space that gave us the inspiration to finish our work.

I wanted to bring back that little moment of glory just to illustrate how a place like that can contribute to both engagement and productivity.

However, these water cooler moments are usually short. The fact is that we spend most of the time sitting in front of the computer. And yes, let’s admit it..sometimes we waste a lot of time lazing around the internet. This is an issue that brings headaches for the managers quite frequently.

In addition, what happens to remote teams that don’t have the option to share a physical space?

Cabaana’s Newsfeed

Wouldn’t it be great to have a place in the company that joins the best of the water cooler spirit with the possibilities that our technology offers? Why not taking the water cooler online?

One of the features that Cabaana offers is its Newsfeed. It is the application’s main social feed in which posts by all the users are published, as well as any relevant actions or events that happen on the platform. For instance, the creation of new huts, new posts or comments published, the kudos given by other users or obtained thanks to the overcoming of challenges, notifications of new followers, the ‘absence status’ (one of the most useful characteristics to let others know in which place the employee is working, or if the worker is ill or on vacation), notifications of personal data changes, etc.

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The user must follow other users to see their posts on the Newsfeed, giving sense to the social media concept ‘follower’. Nevertheless, there are exceptions: for example, when private huts are created or when kudos are given privately. In these cases, only the users that have been invited to private huts and those that received private kudos could see the posts.

The main elements of the Newsfeed are the posts, in which there is always the possibility to leave comments and replies. This way, conversations can evolve to different levels. Besides, with the aim of giving emphasis to the posts that become more relevant on the newsfeed, the platform provides a button called ‘heart’, so that the users can show their acknowledgement of certain posts. Posts can be deleted by the admin or by the user himself. Another important feature is that users can upload as many files as they want in the format of their choice (pictures, songs, PDFs, etc.).

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Finally, the Newsfeed is complemented with huts (which we had talked about earlier here), providing a complete project management experience, and at the same time offering a collaboration experience as well, thus increasing employee engagement.

This article is the last one of this series, in which we have shown and explained the different features that Cabaana currently offers for your company/team. We truly hope that you have enjoyed them and that you now see Cabaana as a helpful tool that will make your teams grow and improve.

As Jim Morrison would sing, “this is the end, my friend”… but we are not Jim Morrison, so don’t worry, this is not the end of this journey because Cabaana will continue to add more features with its newer versions.

Stay tuned and See you soon with more interesting topics on Employee Engagement, Happiness, etc.

Collaboration through Huts

Ever been lost while were trying to look for a report from one of your past meetings? What if there is a streamlined manner in which you could store all project related communication and documents in a single space? Wouldn’t this make your life much easier? Welcome to Cabaana Huts.

By Victor Ruiz

Bora Bora (French Polynesia) at night. Not a bad place to be at this time of the year, isn’t it?
Bora Bora (French Polynesia) at night. Not a bad place to be at this time of the year, isn’t it?

Let me begin by sharing an anecdote. After a year of internship at a major Spanish shipping company, a friend of mine was officially given an offer to become an employee. For the first few months, his work was not very different from what he did as an intern. It involved mechanical inventory tasks, some report creation tasks, and most importantly it entailed the all critical function of serving coffee to his superiors.

However, his patience and dedication for a few months ensured that his first real opportunity to ‘shine’ at work finally arrived. Delighted with his work till then, his boss entrusted him with the preparation of a document related to a Japanese group which was interested in investing in the company. Although the boss had assigned a few other people to help him out, my friend was the leader. It was not necessarily a task of the highest importance, but my friend rightfully realized that this was an opportunity that came his way as a sign of his boss’s confidence in him.

It took several weeks for him and his team to put together this document, but they actually got it done two full days ahead of the planned meeting with the Japanese investors. He received congratulations from his boss and from a few other important leaders in the company. His boss hadn’t planned on having my friend attend the actual meeting, but after reading the document, the boss decided that he was the best person to explain some of the document’s key points.

The big day had finally come and my friend had everything under control. In a kind of pre-business ritual, he put on his lucky suit. Well, his only suit to be honest, carried his lucky fountain pen, splashed on generous amount of his lucky perfume, and of course was getting ready to print the document to distribute to his audience, which was on… Wait…A…Moment…

Where was the document?

He was 100% sure that he had saved it on a specific folder that he created for this purpose, but as a result of a tragic and apparently impossible-to-explain computer failure, the document was not where he was expecting it to be. My friend panicked and called his colleagues & team mates asking for the document. They couldn’t find it either. They all believed that it was his responsibility to ensure the safety of the document.

In the eyes of everyone in the whole company, it was clear. This was his FAULT.

Don’t worry!! My friend could eventually locate the document and it all ended well. More importantly, he still has his job at the same company. But it was a very embarrassing moment for him. The only consequence of that slight mishap was that there was a considerable delay in the meeting, which inevitably resulted in he being taken to his boss’s room for a good sound-off.

What I really learnt from his story was that the lack of streamlining & organization of information and loose collaboration among the employees were the two main factors that caused the embarrassment, and that it is crucial for companies to have appropriate tools to guarantee the same.

That brings me to the next point. What about you and how is this in your company?

Have you ever been frustrated when you had to find a document buried under several layers and several folders when you need it urgently?

This is where Cabaana could make a huge difference in the life of everyday teams, trying to focus on overall efficiency.

Cabaana provides a single space for all your project related communication and collaboration. This space is called ‘Huts’.

Huts are nothing but the hub of all team collaborations. You can organize your team’s collaboration activities either through private or public huts, use “threads” to filter specific topics of discussion that are being worked on, and/or share files and other data within Huts. You can also search for information in those threads inside the huts (they can be deleted when obsolete). In addition, Huts can be used for activities in which not all the team is involved.

In short, Use Huts to get work done.

Huts is a tool designed for knowledge sharing and project management. A Hut is a well-organized and streamlined document storage space for documents that may have to be accessed several times or that are vital for both the team and the company.

Huts are similar to Forums that contain threads for their respective topics. Threads are the starting points for communication on specific topis and knowledge sharing. Hut members can comment, ask questions and answer others’ questions. In addition, members have the capability to upload files that they consider appropriate.

Cabaana provides both Public and Private huts, the latter being only accessible by those users who have been invited by the hut owner (that is, the creator of that hut). Public huts, on the other hand are visible to all users, who can join or leave whenever they want.


Huts don’t need to be for work purposes alone. Users can create huts to share jokes, hobbies, sports, memes, anecdotes, etc.

As a secondary level of categorization of threads, users can use tags. This enables the search mechanism to work even better.

As you can see from the above, through this feature called Huts, Cabaana provides a productive collaboration space with streamlined information, making “lost information” a poor excuse.

This series on Cabaana Features is almost at its end, but I am not done unveiling all the features as yet.

So, Stay Tuned!

Employee Interaction? Challenge Accepted.

Interaction among colleagues is the essence of workplace Happiness and Productivity.
Cabaana triggers interaction in fun and engaging ways.

By Victor Ruiz

Everyday interactions we have with others are contagious, in terms of happiness – Nicholas A. Christakis, American sociologist and physician
Everyday interactions we have with others are contagious, in terms of happiness – Nicholas A. Christakis, American sociologist and physician

Have you tried spending one day without talking to anyone? In one of my former jobs, you didn’t even have to try. It just happened on a regular basis. It’s not that the workers were extremely shy or hermit-like, but such were the characteristics of the tasks and they required certain isolation to concentrate on the work.

Strange things happen when you have little contact with the people around you. While working for that company, I didn’t feel that we were going anywhere. I mean, each employee performed his/her tasks individually, but there was nothing remotely similar to a team or any sense of belonging. We rarely had meetings or events in which we could put our knowledge together and try to solve problems.

It goes without saying that it wasn’t the best possible working environment. I had the feeling that the specific conditions of the work there had gradually flooded everything, consuming the spirit of the people working there, turning them into lonely souls who were trapped, like some kind of prisoners of their forced solitude.

In Cabaana, we believe that interaction between the members of the team is the foundation on which teams can bond and culture can grow. Through Cabaana’s well designed and easy-to-use communication features, interaction among colleagues is streamlined well for maximum efficiency.

Behind all these is Cabaana’s Engagement Engine – a powerful hub for triggering and monitoring engagement. One of the features of the Engagement Engine is to trigger interaction between peers on a regular basis using a set of configurable rules.

Happiness Challenges

Within Engagement Engine is “Happiness Challenges”, a feature designed to promote interaction between employees.

In all fairness, these Challenges are just the icebreakers of sorts when it comes to generating interaction.

Challenges help the employees get to know each other, find similarities and interests in common, which increases the level of confidence among them. Little by little, this confidence creates a positive background in which situations, anecdotes and jokes contribute to build a collective imagination, that strengthens happiness and the team spirit of the workforce, thus helping the growth and progress of the company to reach its goals.

This is how an invitation to a Challenge looks like on the platform
This is how an invitation to a Challenge looks like on the platform

Now some details.

You may ask, “How do you choose the challenged employee?”.
We select them from using these configurable criteria: ‘any member’, ‘any team leader’, ‘only non-team leaders’, ‘only hut (*1*) owners’, ‘member of a public hut’, and ‘member of a private hut’.

I can see you go, “Well that’s ok. But how do you select the targets?”.

We select them again using a set of criteria that in future releases will be made further configurable.
Criteria include, ‘no target’, ‘any other employee’, ‘any direct contact’, ‘any peers’, ‘one of its managers’, ‘someone followed’, ‘someone following them’, ‘someone on the same city’, ‘someone on one of your huts’, and ‘someone with the same interest/skill as you’. We will continue to develop this algorithm we have right now, so as to give more weightage to certain criteria such as employees/team members with whom there has been minimal interaction, etc.

Challenges can be configured and Rules can be set as below:

Weekday: What day of the week a specific challenge should be sent
Frequency: On what frequency a specific challenge should be sent to challenged
Max_number: Related to how many times the same challenge should be sent every day to the whole company/team
Priority: The priority of the challenge
Reward: Either for the challenged or for the target (Kudos)
Max_time: The maximum period of time a specific challenge stays relevant, so it is not sent after the expired time. For example, lunch challenges are configured to be relevant only before 13:00
Rewarded by: Who awards Kudos for a specific challenge? Usually the company/team (that is, Caba), but can be set to be awarded by the challenged or by the target as well

In addition, Cabaana can give more visibility to the challenges through these reports.

● Report challenges accepted (Newsfeed or Private)
● Report challenges completed (Newsfeed or Private)

Cabaana comes with the following out-of-the-box Challenges (Be ready, the list is huge!):

having a meal, sharing a coffee, sharing trivia involving movies, books, music, sport and work, having a walk, offering water, offering help, sharing jokes, portraits and handshakes, asking about superpowers, solving issues, wishing ‘niceday’, afterwork, sharing candies, Dilbert comic, selfies, decoration, articles, and compliments.

Now that you’re familiar with this feature, are you ready take up the Cabaana challenge?
Be brave and stay tuned for more…!

(*1*) ‘Huts’ are the centre of all collaboration. You can organize your team’s collaboration activities either through private or public huts, use threads to filter specific topics that are being worked on, or share files and other data within Huts. In short, Huts are used to get work done.

Keep Your Team on Track!

Checking on your team’s daily mood is important to look out for early warning signs when things are “going south”. Cabaana has a simple but an effective survey feature that allows you to collect feedback from the participants and the survey can even be customized.

By Victor Ruiz

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog – Mark Twain, American writer
It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog – Mark Twain, American writer

It’s curious and sometimes sadistic, how minor and apparently insignificant things can affect our mood dramatically for the rest of the day.

It was as recent as last week. I woke up in good spirits as usual. The sun was shining, the weather was sweet, made me want to move my dancing feet (1), I was taking a shower… but the water wasn’t sweet at all. In fact, it was freezing cold.

First blow.

But I’m not so easy to bring down. After the shower, I recovered my previous good vibrations and got ready to have breakfast. I was about to drink my first sip of coffee with a smile on my face, but what I didn’t know was that the cup contained lava just bubbled from a volcano that burned my mouth and spilled on my shirt. Oh, come on, life cannot be so unfair.

Second, but DOUBLE blow.

I must recognize that I hardly smiled after the coffee incident. However, that morning still had something nice for me. I missed my bus. That was the third and final blow. R.I.P. to my mood for the rest of the day.

Well, this was just an example of a disastrous morning (that I hope it doesn’t happen again!), but sometimes you don’t need nothing special to happen to just feel sad or without the right energy to start your day and go to work. For example, Monday mornings. I guess we all agree on this infernal period of the week…

Effects on productivity

Apart from Monday mornings and the comeback after holidays/vacations (who doesn’t feel depressed?), since a team is composed of individuals, it is difficult to know about their individual mental or emotional states, or their mood flow through the week, like something cyclical. It depends on many things and most of them are personal.

According to Sophie von Stumm, senior lecturer in Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, “from a biological perspective, we know the brain structures and neurotransmitters that are involved in mood, but very little is known about the genetic origin of fluctuations in mood.”(2)

However, something we have no doubt about is that the mood of employees has a crucial effect on the working environment and consequently on the performance of the company. A positive mood is related to happiness and qualities like proactivity, creativity, resilience, productivity or energy. On the other side, a negative mental state drives to sadness, apathy, lack of willpower, low energy, indolence and laziness.

Both moods can cause a chain reaction in the workplace. In the first case, it means paradise. But if the negative case happens to spread, then companies may be in big trouble.

Mood surveys

To help you keep a check on your team’s daily mood and, thus, catch the early warning signs on when things are “going south”, Cabaana has a simple but an effective survey feature that allows you to collect feedback from the participants and the survey can even be customized.

Mood surveys are a daily/periodic check to know about the employee’s mood. Surveys provide three moods: ‘Sad’, ‘Meh’ and ‘Happy’ (see screenshot below), but they can be customized in such a way that the admin can establish the specific time in which the survey will be sent, or set up the different options (for example, instead of ‘Sad’, ‘Meh’ and ‘Happy’, he can create other ones that he considers to be more appropriate).

In the front end, you will find the survey as follows:

Screenshot 1: Don’t you think our mascot ‘Caba’ is adorable?
Screenshot 1: Don’t you think our mascot ‘Caba’ is adorable?

All the answers from employees are stored in what we call the ‘engagement engine’, where we also use certain engineering and artificial intelligence to offer information extrapolated from all this data.

In this first version of Cabaana, what we offer are the results through what we call a ‘Mood Board’. It is a dashboard with a series of graphs/charts. You can access the ‘Mood Board’ by clicking on the smiley button on the upper part of the page, next to the ‘Kudos Leaderboard’ button.

Screenshot 2
Screenshot 2

Inside the ‘Mood Board’, you will find the ‘Average Company Mood’, and then the ‘Daily Mood Levels’. These two graphs obtain their data directly from the mood survey, but each one of them shows different statistics.

The first one (‘Average Company Mood’) shows the daily evolution of the mood of employees in the last 30 days, that is, one month. In the near future, we will be able to show any period that the user demands. What is more, users will be able to download the data and use it as they want.

The arrow inside the box indicates the difference from the day before. In case of the image, it means that the mood has increased 0.25 points compared to yesterday. However, the average mood is within the parameters of ‘Meh’ (yellow color and face of indifference).

Screenshot 3
Screenshot 3

The ‘Daily Mood Levels’ are shown in the image below, where the empirical results of each day are expressed as percentages, that is, the percentage of users that each option has. Like the ‘Average Company Mood’ statistic, for the time being, these results only reflect the mood results from the last 30 days.

Screenshot 4
Screenshot 4

You already know that employees are the foundation of any company. Now you have a tool that helps you to know when things are going in the right direction or when some things need to be improved.

But this tool is just part of a series.
Cabaana has much more to offer… So do stay on track with us and we will keep you updated!

1) Adapted from ‘Sun is Shining’, a song by Bob Marley & The Wailers
2) ‘Unraveling The Surprising Relationship Between Mood And Productivity’