Tag Archives: recession

False Economy

Our biggest asset is Our people.’

So boasts many a company.  But how much do they really engage with that statement.   Is it just another trite cliche, there to impress those on the outside?

One of the best indicators for how much a company really thinks about its people and how much it values them is how much it actually invests in them, demonstrated clearly by size of the budget assigned to continue their development, even when times are tough.

I have friends in a number of large, ‘innovative’, ‘people-focussed’ organisations whose first axed budget was for training and development.  All too often I’m told, ‘Stuart, there is no training budget this year. It’s been cut in the current economic climate.’

To me that really says, ‘As a company we don’t really value our people.’

We talk much about investing in people, supporting our staff, being people-focussed when in fact we’re anything but!

The most valuable commodities when times are hard are creative and innovative ideas which can only come from our people, not our products.   Those creative ideas not only help a company survive and save money in the hard times, they are the gateway to future expansion and success.

As one business author wrote, ‘Those companies with a survival mentality will die.’

It is those companies that really invest in their people who will reap the rewards, survive and thrive.

Perhaps some of our companies would benefit more from a cut in management during hard times so that the money they save can be invested in those who can change fortunes.

And perhaps then they would actually believe that their biggest asset is their people.

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Teamwork Suffering in Downturn

I have just read a very disturbing, yet unsurprising article reporting that 12% of workers admit to having become more insular during the recession. 

At the very time when companies need greater interaction and greater interdependency (teamwork), individuals are seeking to protect their own workloads and projects and around some 27% admit to working longer hours.

The report quotes Mike Bourne, professor of business performance at Cranfield University School of Management as saying,

“Team collaboration and knowledge sharing is essential to help businesses chart a way through the current climate. However, while some employees are understandably worried about job security, firms with business processes to automate teamwork are able to reconcile both workforce productivity and personal performance.”

See report here.

I’m not sure whether it is part of British DNA or culture, but we seem to really struggle with the concept of working together to achieve a common goal.  Perhaps we’ve had experiences where we’ve been betrayed by those whom we have trusted, or had others leapfrog over us as they take our ideas and use them for personal gain and promotion. 

Unfortunately, these sad characters will always be with us. 

But teamwork is exactly the forum that will help to expose these individuals and it provides the team with a level of security impossible to achieve on an individual level.  Who in their right mind (if they are that way inclined) will take on a group of people, a group which is likely to include members of the management team?

But teamwork isn’t really about sinking these rogue battleships; it’s about achieving an objective more quickly, efficiently and completely than is possible when we work alone.

The proof is in the marketplace.  Look at the most successful companies and see how many of these use teams and creative approaches to problem solving and company direction.  A recent survey suggested that in business cultures which engender trust and co-operation, productivity is around 269% greater than where it is absent.

I guess it’s up to us whether we choose to believe the statistics and give it a go … or continue as we are.  Only time, and possibly company solvency will tell.