How Jakamo is Utilizing Self-Determination Theory to Allow Excellent Employee Experience
The present moment is the only time that one can truly experience and live in. You can’t go back and relive yesterday, and you can’t fast-forward to tomorrow either. Our existence and presence are solely in the now, and all that we experience happens in the present moment. Therefore, it is crucial for work to have significance for each employee within an organization every single day. In Jakamo we truly value the idea of meaningful work as a driving force in our organizational design to promote the creation of customer value and sustainable growth.
At Jakamo, we firmly believe that employee motivation is the cornerstone of success. The comprehensive studies by Zenger & Folkman show that people who are intrinsically motivated generate at least twice the profits of those who are motivated extraneously. Individuals who are inherently motivated tend to do what they believe is the right thing to do, while those who are extrinsically motivated tend to do what they are instructed or directed to do.
Considering that 50-80% of costs in SaaS-based businesses, like Jakamo, are directly linked to the people who work in the company, it’s evident that employee experience must be our top priority. When employees feel motivated, engaged, and happy, they are more productive, creative, and dedicated to achieving the commonly shared company goals. To cultivate a culture of inherent motivation and engagement, we have adopted the principles of Self-Determination Theory (SDT).
SDT is a theory of human motivation founded by Ryan & Deci which highlights the importance of inherent motivation to accomplish, grow, learn, and develop skills. At Jakamo, we are creating a social context that supports employees’ inherent motivation by focusing on three key factors: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. SDT suggests that if those three basic psychological needs are satisfied on an ongoing basis, people will develop and function effectively and experience wellness, but if they are thwarted, people are more likely to experience illness and sub-optimal functioning.
Unlocking Employee Potential – Jakamo’s Approach to Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness
Autonomy at work leads to self-initiated motivation which is far stronger than control motivation. To achieve autonomy, the concept requires increased trust and power in decision-making. To increase trust, the key challenge is to adopt a decision-making process that ensures safety.
At our company, we adopted the guidance process that has three questions: Does the decision align with company strategy and targets? Have I listened to the opinions of my colleagues that this decision might affect? Have I listened to all colleagues with domain knowledge who can offer their opinions? If the answer is yes, you can proceed with the decision by yourself.
We also eradicated silos and replaced old teams with dynamic self-organizing cells. This model enables everyone to take on leadership roles for objectives that create value for customers. By decentralizing and democratizing leadership, all employees have the opportunity to make decisions autonomously, resulting in faster and smoother operations.
At Jakamo, we believe that work should be something people love to do. We want our employees to excel at what they are naturally talented in, as this leads to greater commitment, well-being, and better results for our customers. Our common target is to design jobs that people can love.
To achieve this, we recognize that employees’ competencies should be utilized across the company, not just within one team. By doing so, we provide multiple options for meaningful employment design that benefits both our employees and customers. Our dynamic self-organizing cell model is perfectly suited to support this approach.
We also recognize the importance of identifying and utilizing inherent personal strengths. Every person has unique strengths that they enjoy using and motivate them. By allowing our employees to evaluate their skills with an expert in the area, we can help them focus on familiar objectives and create routines for those that are less enjoyable. This leads to a tangible increase in self-initiated motivation and positive experiences.
By designing jobs that people love, utilizing personal strengths and competencies, and embracing positive feedback, we can create a workplace where employees are motivated, committed, and happy to contribute to our customers and society.
To truly motivate people, it’s essential to provide them with a clear understanding of the impact their work has on customers, the company, society, the planet, or their colleagues. When people understand how their efforts contribute to a greater cause, they become more eager to help each other.
At Jakamo, we recognize the importance of fostering good relationships and promoting open dialogue among employees. Our self-organizing cells are designed to support this concept by enabling employees to work in different groups and interact with a diverse range of colleagues.
This approach not only helps employees understand how the company creates value for customers but also strengthens the bonds between colleagues. By promoting collaboration and enabling employees to see the bigger picture, we’re able to foster a culture of motivation, innovation, and success.
Empowering people – Dynamic Self-Governing Organization of Cells
This is what our Dynamic Self-Governing Organization of Cells looks like. Our organizational structure is designed to ensure that we work in a customer-centric way, putting the customer at the center of everything we do. That’s why the foundation and heart of our organizational structure is the customer.
The customer is surrounded by three value streams – Product & Production, Sales & Marketing, and Customer Success – that are entirely dedicated to creating value for our customers. These streams surround the customer, ensuring that their needs are always top of mind.
But that’s not all – we have also included an employee value stream, which we lovingly call our Soul. Our employees are the driving force behind our success, and we recognize that their well-being and happiness are essential to delivering the best possible results for our customers.
Finally, we have our Company value stream, which holds everything together and creates value for our stakeholders including society, partners, and shareholders.
Now, instead of organizing our personnel into five teams based on the value streams, we have adopted a dynamic way of coordinating the work. We use self-governing cells that have their purpose and target, and they plan their work autonomously.
This approach offers our employees a wide variety of options for personalized employment design. They can work in multiple value streams or focus on one niche – the choice is theirs! By providing this flexibility, we ensure that our employees are happy, motivated, and committed to creating value for our customers and the company.
So, whether you’re an employee, customer, or stakeholder, you can rest assured that we all Jakamoers are eagerly developing a workplace that inspires and motivates our people to deliver the best possible results for our customers.
By incorporating the principles of SDT into our culture, we are seeing significant results in employee motivation and engagement. Our people are productive, creative, and committed to achieving our commonly set targets of strategic excellence. We are confident that if we maintain our focus on autonomy, competencies, and relatedness, we will sustain the positive impact we have achieved so far, and foster a psychologically safe workplace that motivates and inspires our employees.
Through this collective effort, we can uncover new possibilities that were previously unknown to us. This approach can enable us to discover unexplored opportunities and unlock hidden potentials that we may not have even been aware of before.
Jarl Matti Anttila
Chief Creative Officer at Jakamo
Buckingham, Markus (2022): Love + Work: How to Find What You Love, Love What You Do, and Do It for the Rest of Your Life. Harvard Business Review Press, 2022.
Lammi, Harri (2020): Luontaiset vahvuudet työelämässä. Kohti onnistumisia ja motivaatiota. Talement.
Ryan, Richard M. & Edward L. Deci (2000): Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being. American Psychologist, January 2000.
Zenger, John H. & Josepth R. Folkman (2019): The New Extraordinary Leader – Turning Good Managers to Great Leaders. 3rd Edition.
Zenger, John H. & Joseph R. Folkman (2016). What Great Listeners Actually Do? Harvard Business Review 16 July 2016.
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