How many well-intentioned organisational transformation fads, sorry, projects are you going to embark on before you address the brutal facts that it’s your people who can make the most significant bottom-line impact? And that goes both ways, by the way.
Let’s list a few of those so-called transformation programmes; Lean, Six Sigma, TQM, offshoring, digitalisation, virtualisation, artificial intelligence. All of them start with the best intentions, yet, if McKinsey are to be believed, 70% will have failed to deliver their intended outcomes.
Take the late 90’s and early 2000’s which saw a plethora of large businesses in pursuit of the holy grail of cost reduction offshoring their call centres – only to find that the brand damage was too much to bear. A mass U-turn ensued, and we are still reminded today that our contact centres are UK based!
Every year Boards of Directors are challenged to grow, become leaner and deliver a better yield and rightly so. The problem is they’re so focused on the tangible and the measurable they ignore what’s really important – their people. People are viewed as a cost that can be trimmed in hard times, not the asset that can deliver significant value. People are intangible; they’re unpredictable; they’re amazing and frustrating all at the same time.
“culture eats strategy for breakfast”Peter Drucker
Peter Drucker once said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, and yet despite this erudite insight, we continue to overlook the potential in our people. We give them poorly trained managers who fail to inspire or motivate and to compensate we turn to another fad, another silver bullet destined to fail due to lack of proper involvement and engagement. And so, the vicious circle continues.
The brutal fact is your people need leadership, direction and above all, purpose. Jim Collins shares the importance of purpose in his book, “Good to Great”. He argues you should recruit for fit with your purpose not merely someone who can do the job – this is the first pillar of the ‘good to great’ journey: getting the right people on the bus.
When you consider that your managers are responsible for 80% of your workforce, (yes, 80%!), that’s an awful lot you’re leaving to chance with poorly trained managers! Yet we continue to under-invest in this population: the sheep-dip of knowledge and skills doesn’t work without an embedding strategy or high-quality coaching and mentoring; rendering any development you do a complete waste of time and money. Worse, this lack of proper investment in skills only serves to unwittingly sabotage strategic projects and transformation programmes, so you lose out twice! Worse still you keep repeating these mistakes!
The pandemic has exacerbated things, companies have, understandably, adopted a conservative approach with everything in a holding pattern, waiting to see how the world evolves. It is over a year since the onset of the coronavirus, a year in which managers have been left to fumble their way through without the skills to support their teams remotely.
Yes, things remain unclear, the future uncertain, but the past has taught us that your people are your secret weapon – or your Achilles heel.
You will need to trust them to execute the short-term strategy as you navigate to clearer waters. So, isn’t it time you started to invest properly in your managers and develop the capability you need, and your workforce deserve?