This week I am dividing the blog into two topics; both of which I feel are very important and neither of which can wait.
Stop and Think
In difficult times it pays to stop and think before acting or even before choosing to do nothing. We talk of strategies, business plans, workforce plans, KPIs and many activities, but the question that nags me is what basis do we have for any of those exercises? Take planning for example. Admit it, isn’t the annual planning game 90 percent budget adjustment and 10 percent reaction? Now, more than at most times it is useful to examine our management philosophy. In particular, we need to rethink our human capital management philosophy.
One’s philosophy encompasses their value system. Value systems are made up of beliefs, attitudes and values the base from which all behaviors, conscious and unconscious spring. In an organization we are talking about the foundation of the corporate culture. I am working with one client currently that has two cultures operating in opposition. It is deeply affecting the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission. Finally I have convinced them that we need to discuss the disparate philosophies underneath the cultures.
The prime question for every organization is, how do you view people? Are they interchangeable expenses? Do they add more value than they consume? It is the old Theory X versus Theory Y argument. Platitudes often mask one’s true operating philosophy. We don’t talk about philosophy because that is too soft. This is business. But business operations are the result of one’s management philosophy. We see it every day in companies that are as different as can be. Employees need to know the organization’s philosophy before they join. If they don’t they might find themselves parked in the wrong slot. This leads to negative behavior that also affects others and eventually drives poor performance and turnover. Leadership is all about vision and vision is a direct function of philosophy. So, take philosopher Peter Koestenbaum’s advice:
“Unless the distant goals of meaning, greatness and destiny are addressed
we cannot make an intelligent decision about what to do tomorrow morning
-- much less set strategy for a company”
My second rant this month is around courtesy: doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. This was brought on by a conversation I had recently with a very prominent and successful HR consultant. This lady started from scratch 20 years ago and has built an enviable reputation in her field. She was bemoaning how some people comfortably ensconced in a beautiful office furnished with technology that they didn’t pay for, don’t understand and don’t have to maintain, treat consultants like the unclean.
If you have never financed an enterprise out of your own wallet and seen it through good and bad times you have no idea of the courage, persistence, energy and imagination it takes. Those who have spent their life feeding from the corporate trough should recognize and applaud the struggling small company consultants who are the true innovators of business. Most good ideas come from a consultant’s research and field experience. Corporate types read and use them to build their successes without acknowledging the genesis of the concept.
Consultants and vendors are usually light years ahead of corporate types. Many times I have had vendors tell me that they have a product idea that is a true leap in value but their customers are buried in old methods. I see people buy new tools and use 20 percent of the lowest utility therein. So, before you become dismissive, recognize where your success really emanates from. Thank the hard working consultant who calls on you in your prepaid, well-furnished, air conditioned office. Their livelihood depends on making a sale, unlike you who can coast for a while and still draw a pay check every two weeks. Corporate types talk about how hard they work and some of them actually do. But they don’t labor with the sword of doom handing over their heads every day. You owe these people your respect and your business.
I don’t know how you feel, but I feel much better now. Seriously folks, The Golden Rule applies more in tough times. Also, examine your organization to make sure that you have a well thought out human capital management philosophy and are operating in a positive considerate manner. Remember, tomorrow you might be calling one of those consultants looking for a job.