As you’d expect, cycling’s comeback star – seven times Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong – is an inspiration for motivation coach Neil Crofts. On his website www.neilcrofts.com, there’s a photo of the Briton, in which he resembles the Texas cycling supremo and cancer survivor. Cycling fan Crofts even wears the famous yellow jersey while climbing the Puig Major, Mallorca´s highest mountain. The image carries a clear message about this cyclist´s job: motivation coaching. The message is: Never give up.
The path leading to the goal of “more efficiency” – which Crofts reveals to international managers and employees in his seminars – is not as arduous as the hardest climb stage of the Tour de France, but straight, clear and compassionate – “like hierarchies of the future should be,” the coach assures. Surprisingly, a man who declares himself a supporter of innovation and capitalism, is fighting to re-establish values, which fit with the principles of western Christian humanism: mutual respect instead of an aggressively competitive mindset; creativity instead of blind obedience; self-responsibility instead of fixed hierarchies.
Crofts calls himself an “inspirator” and doesn´t go for short-term results. His method has a strong foundation, based on an idea born when he joined the London marketing company “Razorfish” (www.razorfish.com) some years ago. There, Crofts found himself in a professional ambience he’d never experienced before. Everyone knew their superiors trusted them, so the team was free to be creative and to try “amazing things,” the Briton recalls.
He saw people putting a lot of energy into projects without external pressure and force; meaningful working hours spent efficiently – a different kind of economic luxury far beyond monetary profit. With such work ethics, benefits are increased en passant. “Eventually we all tend to give shareholders more value. Many companies spend millions on marketing and at the same time they tell their staff how marginal their contribution is to the overall performance,” Crofts remarks.
His own CV is incredible and just reading it is motivational. On his website homepage he describes himself as a person “without qualifications”. He holds only “a driving licence and a few O-Levels”. Neil Crofts, now 45 years old, spent most of his time very confused about “why I was there and what was expected of me”. No wonder that his favourite book is “Hitchhiker´s Guide to the Galaxy”. His first job was building up a motor racing team. Three years of “driving the car, running the team, finding the money” left him a debt (“a bit like university”) but also taught him lessons in motivation, planning, management, media, “fear, flow and commitment” that money couldn’t have bought. After his first “proper” job he bought his first Apple Mac in 1991 and later became part of the 90s economic boom. His first employer, the small, but very creative web design company CHBi, grew exponentially and transformed into “Razorfish”. When the boom was over, Neil had a few months off while he worked out what to do and turned the rest of his life upside down as well; he also cycled over the Pyrenees. In 2001 he discovered his own business concept as coach and consultant – by chance, flicking through some business magazines.
Philosophically he recalls his life up to then as “a long learning curve”. Today Neil leads a quite solid middle-class life. In September 2007 he decided to move to Mallorca, along with his Danish wife Benedicte and their two children. “We consider ourselves Europeans and this cosmopolitan island attracted us,” Crofts says. He´s glad about living among people with many different cultures and backgrounds, about “meeting fascinating personalities.”
His place of work, however, is both his home office and the whole world. “Almost 90 per cent of my consultancies are carried out by phone calls or internet video conferences,” Crofts tells abcMallorca. Thus costs for travelling, accommodation, and, last but not least, a lot of time, can be saved. It would be almost impossible to get the workers of, for example, an American company together, whose 50 employees might be spread around the globe. Crofts: “With my method everyone stays in his office; the workshop is split into short sessions and carried out over several weeks. So we also avoid the information overload of an intensive two-day seminar.”
Sometimes Neil takes a plane and travels within Europe to hold a face-to-face workshop. During these, he always picks out small groups of the whole rank and file, to develop their core motivation individually, and reintegrate them in the staff. Crofts likes to use the terms “energy” and “passion”. One of his guidelines: “What I find is, that when people are passionate about what they do, they are also much more motivated and this leads to them being more successful.” His consultancy strategy tends to push the “authentic button” to create a believable work identity.
A company is “authentic”, if it provides workplaces as platforms for self-fulfilment, if co-determination is welcome and if everybody feels engaged in the pursuit of a positive purpose. Otherwise it would be frustrating “to go to your desk, conscious that you’re working to make someone else rich,” Crofts explains. Creative businesses in the digital age need “staff capable of self-motivated and self-dependent performance.” A trough hierarchy structure under the motto “You just do what I tell you to do” is a relic of industrial age organizations “where the tasks are essentially repetitive and the pace of change is incremental.”
Crofts thinks the future belonging to “authentic” businesses. They are more flexible and more dynamic, prepared to adapt to quickly changing markets: “In ten or 20 years time most businesses will be run this way. Authentic enterprises have high loyalty levels within their staff and a better cost-efficiency, because they can cut 80 per cent of the expenses usually necessary for motivation measures.” He mentions one positive example on Mallorca: Inca-based shoe manufacturer Camper. The company is successful in being both a global player and a carrier of local identity, “transporting a convincing image”.
“Energy is important – not time” is another guideline of this coach. Recently an international survey revealed that the average employee only uses 50 per cent of his working time productively. Crofts believes that in “authentic businesses”, this percentage is more like 80 or 90 per cent. Less time is wasted on minor matters. In badly-run companies, “less motivation” results in “much time” – fatal in times of globalization, when more quickness and efficiency than ever are crucial.
“Inspiration” and “passion” are the terms Crofts employs profoundly in his second book “Authentic Businesses”. Employees need to receive the message that they make a contribution to something worthy and meaningful. A simple message – but so difficult to achieve.
Neil Crofts lives and works in Mallorca – here are a list of his books:
1) Authentic – How to make a living by being yourself 14 €
2) Authentic Businesses – how to create and run your perfect business 14 €
3) Seven Stages of Authenticity 10,80 € – only for download.