Redundancy (Mass Layoffs)

Physics, Psychology and Business

Physics  Psychology & Business 123rf.com_97637392_sNewton’s 3rd Law of Physics. You might not remember it is as that but you almost certainly know it or have heard of it:  “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Even if you are familiar with it, you are unlikely to think about it very much or very often. And certainly not in a business context.

This isn’t your fault. It is perhaps simply the inevitable consequence of our natural human need to label things. By categorising this as a “physical law” you inevitably compartmentalise it as “scientific” and so fail to consider its applicability to business. But perhaps you ought to.

After all science pertains to all life. It is only convention (that need to label things) that causes us to break science into different fields. We tend to treat these as discrete and distinct when in reality they are not. The boundaries – like any – are subjective and artificial. As a result we may be short-changing ourselves, as I suggest we are in this instance.

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Good Leadership: It’s All about Value

Continuing with the recent theme of leadership and the question of whether or not you are a good leader, here is something else you can do to find out. Ask yourself, “Do I focus on value?”  

Value and price 26236493_sThat might seem like a very strange question. Your instinctive reaction may be to shrug it off and say “Of course!”   But I urge you to probe a little deeper. You may recall Oscar Wilde’s line that, “A cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing!” Unfortunately cynicism seems to be a trap that many business leaders can fall into all too easily. So it may be useful to take a good, honest look at yourself,  your behaviour and your thinking, to be sure that you haven’t inadvertently fallen into that trap.

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Why Employee Engagement Efforts Aren’t More Effective

In his book, “Leaders Eat Last,” Simon Sinek expounds on how the human species has been biologically programmed for survival. He describes the chemical stimulants that the body produces under different circumstances. He identifies 6 different chemical reactions and the situations in which they are produced. These are, briefly, as follows:

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Transforming Human Resources

You likely heard the news late last week that the Shell share price rose 7% in response to the news that the company was cutting 10,000 jobs. So, what was your reaction?

I wager it hardly made any impression on you. Yet that report encapsulates the pervasive attitude that people are simply a resource, and reinforces my case that the HR profession needs to change its approach. Let’s take a look how it could go about this.

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Redundancy: When will they ever learn?

It was Bob Dylan who asked the question “When will they ever learn?” Unfortunately, when it comes to redundancy, it seems to still apply: certainly when it comes to large organisations and what you can only call their “readiness for redundancy” – the speed with which they resort to redundancy as a solution to problems.  

This cartoon that I commissioned for “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” remains relevant.

People_as_costs_cartoon

As long as you continue to manage people as costs, rather than as assets, redundancy will always remain an attractive option. Even if redundancy is not a “knee-jerk” reaction to bad performance it certainly can seem like it. At best it reflects badly on management and calls into question their ability – and therefore their right – to oversee a large organisation. Why?

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People as Assets – Fact or Fiction?

Alignment“People are our greatest/most important assets!”

How often have you heard that? It has become rather a cliché. But how much validity does the statement have? What does “people are our greatest assets” actually mean? Does it mean anything at all?  

To start to answer this you need a clear definition of what an asset is and then decide whether a person can be one.

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HR: The New Frontier

Young explorer iStock_000010208873SmallIt’s been 10 years since I set out on a new career path with the mantra “HR is the new IT.” For me it was as plain as the nose on my face. The returns on investment were shrinking.

For decades business had been pursuing the benefits of new technology and optimising that technology through what came to be called Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) – and with unprecedented success. It delivered enormous change and radical new ways of doing things that are now so much a part of everyday life we take them for granted. Inevitably, however, the pace has to slow. When the new becomes the norm and is no longer new, then the returns have to diminish too. Increased or extraordinary profits only result from doing the extraordinary; when the extraordinary becomes ordinary the profits do too. It’s economics 101!

But for me there is more to it than that.

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It's Time to Pull Together

This week brought confirmation of something that I have more than suspected for a long-time. Yet, while validation brings vindication, the picture portrayed is alarming. It would have been better to be proved wrong.

According to the 2013 Deloitte Shift Index Report the Return on Assets (ROA) for US business has declined from 4.1% in 1965 to 0.9% in 2012. (See the graph below.) That’s a decline of 78% over 47 years!

DUP505_Figure-11-960x543 Declining ROA

This is extremely alarming when one considers that the US is the world’s Number One economy. You can only wonder what the decline is for the entire block of “developed” economies. It helps explain just why China is closing so rapidly on that # 1 position!

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The disastrous consequences of mixed messages!

As I have always stressed, there are two distinct parts to strategy. There’s strategy development and there is strategy implementation. They are two very different things, but you can’t really have the one without the other.

Mixed message_000003871853XSmallIt’s all very well for executives to sit in their plush offices and develop strategic plans but those plans aren’t worth a can of beans if they are not carried out. And of course, it is the rest of the organisation that does the carrying out! In fact executives generally play little or no significant part in implementation. That is why it is imperative that the strategy is effectively communicated through all levels of the organisation.  How else can you expect to achieve strategic integrity – the perfect fusion of strategic planning and strategy implementation?  

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The Tyranny of the Task!

Have you had a bad customer experience recently? Unfortunately the answer is most likely yes. And more than likely your frustration has been caused by someone’s rigid adherence to rules, even when the rules don’t appear to make sense. All too often the person serving will even agree, but say they are powerless to do anything about it “because those are the rules and that is the way things are!” 

Hopefully such experiences make you more alert to ensuring that your organisation does not operate with a radical, rigid and almost religious reliance on rules. They do prompt you to talk to your people and find out if they ever feel that way, don’t they? You can never expect to provide an exemplary customer experience if you don’t.

To do Istock_000012280649XSmallHowever, rigid reliance on rules has a near cousin that also impacts negatively on your organisational effectiveness, and thus on your service and ultimately your customers’ experience. You could call this “the tyranny of the task.” Let me give you an example. 

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