By making people aware of their strengths and potential, we encourage them to be better
Elite Academy Balkans is part of the Italian Elite Academy based in Belgrade and it covers former Yugoslav republics, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Hungary and Albania. The Elite Academy’s headquarters is located in Florence, Italy and is the centre for the EU and Switzerland. We spoke with Miša Pavićević, CEO of Elite Academy Balkans, for the In Focus Italy edition.
You train and test workers and you say that you use revolutionary methods to do this Could you elaborate on this, please?
The team of Elite Academy’s lecturers and mentors consists of highly educated professionals, with abundant experience in business and coaching. We nurture a unique approach to working with people based on the elite Italian model and the results related to education which are proven to generate substantial business results. We use the latest methods in the form of English tests PSYTECH, which help us understand a person’s characteristics, personal profiling, expectations, leadership characteristics, motivation and communication methods in training and testing of our attendees. Before starting cooperation with a company, I always insist that the company owner take the test first, to get to know them better and find out what awaits us in working with them. If they refuse to do so, we won’t cooperate with the company. According to the generated test results, we suggest further training programmes.
Participants in our programmes are motivated to cooperate with us, ready to improve their skills, acquire new applicable knowledge and progress in the business. It gives us the greatest satisfaction to see the sparkle in the eye of people we have helped, by making them aware of their strengths and potential and encouraging them to be even better. In addition to employees, we also scan the company by sector to identify problems. If we find deficiencies, we do further testing and suggest solutions such as additional training, relocation of employees to another appropriate workplace and such. When we identify employees in the company who have great potential, we suggest that they should be promoted. Practically speaking, we are creating a revolution, because everything is new, different and focused on people. If people are sufficiently motivated and properly selected, the sky is the limit!
The Academy provides four levels of training. Who can attend these training programmes and how can someone become an Elite Academy Balkans student?
We have different levels of training that we carry out in companies or halls, on our premises or online. Training sessions vary depending on the level. Top Academy is intended for company owners and top managers who are sent to Seville or Florence with their spouses to attend classes which last 7 days. This is business and life skills training.
“We need to have a broad understanding, devoid of meaningless beliefs and prejudices about everything around us”
Advanced School is intended for company owners, principals or managers who want to advance. This level fosters a unique individual approach where learning and testing are done one-on-one, with a tutor mentor, and the speed of learning or going through programme material is adjusted to each student individually. The training lasts between 3 and 7 days, and consists of the theoretical and practical part, after which the student is given the Elite Academy certificate. Business Training is intended for lower and middle-level managers who are first tested in the company and interested in working on themselves. The studying is done in groups of 6-15 people, interactively, after which the students are given the Elite Academy certificate. Basic School lectures on various topics which company owners want to use to motivate their co-workers and improve certain characteristics. The training is conducted in groups of 10-200 people.
Could you describe the typical Elite Academy student?
The only prerequisite that our students need to meet is the will to work on themselves and to progress. When there is no desire, nothing helps. The more we work on ourselves, the better we will be, first to ourselves, and then to our family, friends and the company in which we work. We need to have a broad understanding, devoid of meaningless beliefs and prejudices about everything around us.
What is the situation with leadership in our country like today?
Unfortunately, we are quite conservative in that aspect. There are good things, but also a lot of bad things that are passed down through the generations like education by criticism. Whole generations grew up exposed to constant criticism, and people who are constantly looking for excuses for everything they do or do not do, who sweeps things under the rug, figuratively speaking, and so on. Only 10-20% of business owners work on themselves, i.e. are involved in personal education and training. Only if they work on themselves can they ask their workers to do the same. The markets of former Yugoslav republics are still too sheltered. If they truly opened their borders with the EU, I am confident that, in half a year, between 70-80% of them would disappear.
Business owners must understand that elevating standards should not be done because of EU regulations, but for their own sake, because that is the only way for them to progress and survive. There are top companies in Serbia that do really well because they have applied global and European standards. The way of doing business primarily depends on the breadth of the owner’s understanding. It’s not only about a business idea. In parallel with the development of the business, one should work on the company and invest in it. We all want change, but if we do not change ourselves, nothing will happen.
You mentioned that the Balkan approach to workers is quite authoritative. Which approach do you think is better?
There are two macro periods in the development of entrepreneurship and companies in Serbia and the Balkans. One is the period of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other is the period of transition, which is still ongoing in this part of the world. We are talking about the transformation of state and society into private capital, in different ways. Slowly, some companies are introducing the manager-centred way of running a company. In our country, as the company develops, its owner will either continue to run the business themselves or hire professionals (managers) who they will pay to run the company. We are currently at the very beginning of such a professional way of managing a company, which has been a successful practice in Europe and America for 50 years. In most companies in Serbia, the rule of thumb is that the owner pays the employees as little as possible, and the employees do as little as possible because they are not adequately paid. This is not a fair game and it leads nowhere. In that game, without any motivation, people give 20-30% of themselves, a percentage which we have actually measured by doing the latest tests.
The implementation of the managerial way of running a company is necessary in order to establish the tools needed to properly manage the company. The leader-centred way of running a company has long been practised in America, and more recently in Europe. For comparison, in companies where the owner is a manager or director with very few redeemable qualities, employees work with 20-30% of capacity, whereas the company is run in the leadership style, and where employees are satisfied and motivated, the percentage is twice as high. In conclusion, we need to change how a company is managed, choose proper people who will be compatible and put them in adequate positions. Only then will employees perceive the company as their own and give their best at work. It is necessary to create an environment for the winning team because a second league team cannot play in the Champions League.
“ If people are sufficiently motivated and properly selected, the sky is the limi”
In addition to financial, emotional motivation is also very important. In Serbia, a very small number of company owners understand that people are the most important asset of any team. Soft skills, business skills and a good personality are very important. Of the 10 company owners that we work with, two to three are extremely interested, three to five see it as interesting, and two always have the attitude “if they don’t want to work for us, there is always someone who does”. Such owners who fail to understand that people are the most important asset in the company are already facing a serious problem while those company owners who want to find out more about this or those who have recognized that people are the main asset are usually the ones who have been working on themselves. They understand that they have to learn and develop, they have recognized that they need to work with people in the right way, and they communicate properly, motivate, respect and ask their workers for their opinion. In that way, they invest in the company and guarantee positive results in the coming period.