As a Microsoft Partner, it is time to start leveraging the vibrant Microsoft community that exists around the world and proactively encourage all staff to get involved.
It will elevate your company in the market and address issues. Like when you send your staff to work onsite with customers in the long term or require them to travel away from their families for work.
Staff isolated on projects.
Staff working at the customers’ premises can feel isolated from their employer and from people that understand the type of work they do.
If you wonder why staff exit your business and go in search of greener pastures, consider the following reasons:
- They feel there is no career path for them within your practice
- Ground Hog Day – Same thing different customer month after monotonous month
- You are not paying industry rates, and it is easier to take another job than fight for a pay rise
- You are not providing learning opportunities
- You keep lying about overtime. Asking staff to work well beyond 40 hours per week is standard, and this is taking a toll on staff’s mental health.
If you are a narcissist or let’s say, someone that has narcissistic tendencies, you may call bullshit on mental health issues in the work environment.
I am guessing you will not be too hot on the idea of EQ as well and you can’t understand why people have problems that you don’t have.
Not an expert on mental health and I don’t claim to be, but I know it is real and it affects many in our industry. I have observed it go hand in hand with Impostor Syndrome.
As employers, it is time to start identifying this in the workplace and proactively taking steps to prevent issues. And to provide help when people are struggling – as everyone does at some point.
One of the ways you can empower your staff is to encourage your team to engage in the Microsoft Community. It can also be a lifeline for people stuck on remote projects.
Here are some ideas to encourage:
- Attend User Groups
- Run User Groups
- Speak at community events
- Answer questions in Microsoft Forums
- Connect with likeminded people on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
- Attend User Group Conferences
- Get involved in Hackathons
- Share their learning online via blogs, videos, and podcasts
I have come across many partners that do not encourage staff engagement in the community or go out of their way to ban and discourage staff from getting involved. Here are the six fears I have uncovered in talking to these partners.
The six FEARS motivating Microsoft Partners
1. Fear of IP Leaks
Partners worry that their staff will leak ideas regarding projects, IP developed on the job, or secrets that the companies have developed. They fear that if their staff network and build relationships with their peers, this information may be shared.
Simple education on non-disclosure should address this and should not prevent employers from encouraging community involvement.
2. Fear of Poaching
They worry that another employer will poach their staff. Is your relationship that bad that you worry about them seeing better opportunities than what you are providing?
Are you worried that you are not a good employer as others in the market? Rather than address that, your best bet is to prevent your staff from finding this out for themselves?
3. Fear of Cost
Some partners worry what it will cost them. Most community events are put on at no cost apart from the opportunity cost of having a staff member attending an event on “company time”.
The smart practice owner invests in their team. There are ways to make up perceived lost company time if you are still running your business like you are stuck in the industrial revolution.
4. Fear of Enlightenment
This one is like the fear of poaching – that you are fearful of staff learning how other people are operating in the industry. Maybe the way they work and treated at your company is often not in their best interests.
Ignorance can only protect you so long, and it would be better to focus on the health and well-being of staff.
5. Fear of Knowledge
Knowledge transfer is a fantastic thing, and as the saying goes ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’ Some partners fear that if their staff share their knowledge, this will, in return, hurt their business.
6. Fear of Free
Fear that staff will teach and help others for free is another fear that partners have.
Instead of supporting staff to demonstrate their competency by showing others how they solve problems or technology challenges, they would instead secure PO or financial arrangements.
It is worth reading Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty to overcome this fear.
“There can be no initiative if one has fear, and fear compels us to cling to tradition, gurus, etc.” – Bruce Lee.
How do great Partners do it?
In my observation, there are Microsoft Partners that are hitting the ball hard when it comes to encouraging staff to engage in the community. They have a reputation of being the best of the best when it comes to attracting top talent in the market, is this a coincidence? I think not.
CRM-Konsulterna – Europe
Have a reputation for attracting top talent and encourage staff to engage in the community worldwide. This company promote the creation of open-source tools, speaking and running events both in Sweden, Europe and America.
Barhead – APAC
Barhead have reputation for encouraging their staff to get involved in the community, including User Groups, Summits, Hack4Good, 365Saturdays and Hackathons.
Their staff speak, organize events and are encouraged to develop the individual’s personal brand with blogs.
Hitachi Solutions – America
Show a strong commitment to the community with an MVP mentorship program, actively encourage team members to speak at User Groups, pay travel and expenses for community conferences and events, as well as encouraging social and blog contributions as part of annual review goals.
As you can see, these partners ‘get it’ – they see the value of encouraging staff to engage in the community. Do you?