During national and international economic crisis, organizations can no longer afford to carry dead weight

During national and international economic crisis, organizations can no longer afford to carry dead weight. Managers and their direct reports who do not execute organizational business strategies should be fired. They are directly responsible for unnecessarily increasing costs to conduct business and those costs are passed on to financially weary customers. This kind of language is tuff to hear but emotionally stroking employees to comply with strategic direction is not the way to go. In other words, you don’t have to plead with people to do their jobs. Giving non-performers too many chances to improve their performance is damaging to the morale of engaged and productive employees. Think about it – just how long will it take for a non-performer to improve given how long he or she has already been on the job? When management has determined that an employee is not producing and the reasons they are not producing have nothing to do with the business of the organization – fire them!

The goals of most organizations are to provide enough flexibility in their operations to attract and retain top talent. However, non-performers are directly responsible for the reasons top talent are walking out the door. They are finding the work environment hostile and resistant to change. The stress of working in a resistant and dysfunctional environment is more than engaged workers are willing to tolerate. If they stay, understand their stay will be temporary and once the economic climate is stable they will be gone. If the organization is a toxic one, the problems are systemic, which often manifest in dysfunctional behaviors at every level negatively impacting all business systems. Too many organizations are hiring external consulting firms to find answers for their internal problems. Changes consultants recommend are often considered too expensive to implement because change involves technical, procedural and human resources. Human resource issues are rarely dealt with to any degree that makes a difference because it is believed to be the most expensive component of change and is known to occupy a great deal of management’s time. However, organizations need to “man up” and deal with the problems of non-performers that reside within their bricks and virtual environments, which are wreaking irreversible havoc on their business systems.

Initiating Change in Hostile Territory

Non-performers have a false sense of entitlement as they believe they own the organization but not the work, thus, creating a hostile environment for change initiatives. Focus is diverted from issues involving employees to changes in processes or systems, which usually work fine when the right actors are involved.  Consulting firms study and come up with ways to change or sell traditional organizational cultures on a new vision to enable the organization to achieve its goals. This translates into less money being spent on product development and tangible customer service.  The buzz words of “results orientation” or “result competencies” mean little when one is up against an abyss of status quo mentalities. Executives, who are not achieving results with their current workforce, will have a tough time achieving results down the road. Employees hired by the organization should be personally accountable for their performance, which rolls up into the performance of the entire organization when viewed from a systematic perspective. Not holding employees accountable for their performance regardless of their job level has systemic repercussions, which ultimately damage the organizational brand and lower customer confidence. Remember customers are the bread and butter of the business and not providing the goods and services the organization touts in a timely and efficient manner leads to quick and painful death of the business. Management is to blame and that is the bottom line! Here are a few areas of concern regarding the management ranks:

  • They do not understand the mission, vision and values of the organization.
  • They lack motivation themselves and do not know how to create a motivating environment to enable resources to be successful and productive.
  • They do not know their direct reports well enough to determine what motivates them individually or collectively.
  • They do not value or support the organization’s diversity initiatives.
  • They do not recognize the difference between performers and non-performers.
  • They do not understand the organization’s goals or how to communicate them effectively.
  • They do not understand the Department of Human Resources policies and apply them in a way that creates disparate treatment.
  • They fail to continue their education beyond the minimal requirements.
  • They fail to measure results efficiently and effectively.
  • They tell upper management what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear to assist them in creating the right strategic direction.
  • Negative politicking and posturing is what they do to push their personal agendas.
  • They have not trained on effective execution strategies.
  • Focus is placed more on their bonuses rather than the success of the organization.
  • They do not understand the organization’s code of ethics and how to enforce it.
  • They do not hire smart!
  • They lack leadership courage.

This is not rocket science and the list above is not all-inclusive. Organizational problems are playing out in external environments and leadership is reaping the fruits of their inaction on a global stage. The mortgage and oil crisis are just a manifestation of the dysfunctionality that has been going on systemically behind the scenes for years. “Cream rises to the top,” but mess rises too and when it does, the stench of it is overwhelming. Your employees are building upon organizational inefficiencies and when the alarm is sounded by those interested in seeing the organization do well; they are punished and warned to keep their mouths shut. Why? Because people have grown accustomed to a dysfunctional way of operating business systems and no one wants the finger pointed in their direction. Forcing your top people to keep quiet about inefficiencies or ignoring organizational rebels of change because “that is the way it has always been done around here” further embeds the status quo rendering the potential of new processes and systems inoperable and you can thank your dysfunctional management and their reports for that.  

Organizational Resisters – a Misconception

Upper management attributes resisters to the lowest tiers of the organization. In reality, resistance can be found at all levels of organizational life. Resisters hide behind tradition; fear of the unknown and exposure. They fail to understand the importance of change and how change can positively impact the organization’s longevity, which also communicates into continued employment opportunities for them. They are silo thinkers and cannot effectively communicate what it is they fear about change because they are operating from emotion and not from their intellect. For example, when invited to a meeting to discuss change initiatives, they waste the team’s time objecting to change they fail to understand. If they do not get their way, there is hell to pay for the organization especially if the resister is a manager with leadership influence among his or her peers. What you encounter next is nothing less than a mutiny throughout the ranks. Watch who is doing the talking and who they talk to in casual and business settings. Often plans are made in those conversations to thwart organizational strategy.  Organizational strategy is thwarted to line up with one’s personal diluted and misguided vision of where the organization is headed and where they think it should go. Notice how many people challenge the resister’s delusion because the resister or resisters usually have their backup from some other misguided soul at levels higher than those present in the meeting. You may never see him or her, but their presence and resistance is felt throughout the system. By the time resistance is brought to the attention of the team, it has already built momentum with tentacles touching just about every aspect of organizational life, which embeds itself like a virus.

The Reality of Business

When business results are not the reality within an organization, someone is expected to take the blame and that blame usually falls on the shoulders of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). However, the CEO should not be the first to blame or to go. Organizational leaders need to rethink accountability throughout the organization and not just at the top. The CEO has very little time to “hand hold” and “spoon feed” the mission, vision and values. An effective CEO will cut through the smoke of organizational problems and provide a clear picture of where the organization stands presently, internally and externally. No matter what people want to hear – they need to hear the truth! Warm fuzzies are a smoke screen to organizational complacency and a silent but quick death. In the current business climate there are no excuses for not achieving business results. Whatever happened to the “at will” employment clause? The majority of managers are afraid to use it. They are also afraid of the costs associated with hiring and training new resources. They cannot have it both ways. Their fears are unfounded because terminating a “non-performer” is consistent with the organization’s goal of increasing productivity and creating additional human resource capacity.  What managers need to be asking themselves is why they are exposing their respective organizations to the potential of unnecessary litigation. Holding on to non-performers makes them guilty of holding employees to different levels of accountability often within the same job class and that is an attorney’s dream case. Additionally, hiring and promoting the wrong resources sends a negative message that resonates throughout the organization and that eventually becomes an embedded and dysfunctional hiring strategy.

When organizational problems arise, solutions for handling them need to be communicated consistently through the ranks to provide employees with a clear idea of where they are and what needs to happen for the organization to move forward in a strategic and consistent manner. Inconsistent communications and inactions concerning the organization create confusion and ultimately resource disengagement.  Therefore, organizational reality, clarity and transparency are crucial in communications from vision to execution. Engaged resources rally around the truth even if it is painful for them to digest. The business of the organization is far too important to allow saboteurs free rein.

Organizational Politics Will Not Pay the Bills

Here is a reality check – customers do not care about internal organizational politics. If the mission, vision and strategy are correct and the right people are included there is no time to create crafty communications to avoid offending neurotic, politically charged resisters to change. Remember, employees are financially compensated to do their jobs at every level. “Politics at work” is a nasty phrase used by a few organizational elitists that make destructive politics something the rest of the workforce need to navigate with fear. Nothing is achieved when organizational politics is more of a focus than tangible customer focused results. When viewed with critical eyes, the dysfunction of organizational politics is just another way of avoiding necessary change. CEO’s have the power to change the focus because this kind of environment increase business expenses and ultimately the bills will not get paid if this environment is allowed to persist. Don’t be afraid to tell people the truth – embrace, internalize and execute the organization’s mission, vision and values or join the ranks of the newly unemployed.

Monitor for Quality and Results

When employees resent management’s involvement in their performance perhaps they have something to hide. This article does not advocate a strictly autocratic management style. When the organization is off track, diverse management styles can be used to restore it to a high functioning world class organization. Organizational human resources should understand they do not own the organization but they do own the work they are hired to do. The preferred atmosphere is focused, inclusive and results driven. Test, measure, monitor and follow-up to ensure the right results are achieved and most important, sustained.

It’s Time to Shake Up Corporate America!

CEO’s and their leadership teams must live the mission, vision, values and change of their respective organizations. When change is necessary, communicate it consistently and often. Know when to sell and tell your people about change.  Human resources should hear and see change so they understand what is expected of them at their respective levels of execution daily.

The management level within the organization is believed to be held least accountable for business results. Not sure why this is happening but this level has been traditionally viewed as untouchable. However, the management level should be scrutinized with the same frequency as other levels within the organization to ensure results are achieved because management’s role is the critical link between organizational strategy and execution.

Create an Environment Where Results are Achievable

Top talent no longer fear walking out of the door in search of greener pasture where their contributions to the success of the organization are valued. Move your professionals out of cubicles. Those tiny spaces are making people crazy and non-productive at work. The noise levels are ridiculously high and are negatively impacting their ability to think critically, creatively and peacefully about work assignments.  Give your professionals credit for putting in the time to earn their degrees, which have provided major advancements for the organization. Crowding them into cubicles like sheep waiting for slaughter is the wrong approach to a collaborative environment. Give them breathing room and watch productivity soar.

Ensure everyone in the organization has access to the training and tools necessary to execute organizational strategy.  Simply – include them! Inclusion is a strategy that is easy and cost-effective to implement but one that is not used because it encourages diverse ideas coming from diverse individuals. However, that is exactly what the organization needs to operate in increasingly diverse internal and external environments. Biased managers view diversity as problematic because they do not understand it, cannot manage it and are not comfortable with diverse people or their ideas. They are often the ones who say that discrimination is a thing of the past. Talk about awareness! If this kind of mentality is not detected during employment or promotional interviews, you can be sure the organization is headed for a huge lawsuit and one that may eventually put the organization out of business. Not including diverse resources in the business is a huge waste of money when looking at human resource capacity. If you are wondering where the money drain is located, just take a look at the lack of inclusion within your workforce. Remember, inclusion does not mean confining diverse resources at the lower levels of business when they have a higher level of business knowledge and expertise. Inclusion should be evident at all levels of organizational life. The issue of diversity may not be important to you, but it is very important to your employees and customers.

Today’s customers demand the very best in the products and tangible services that the organization has to offer. To achieve this, hold your employees directly accountable for execution of the very strategies that seek to meet and exceed customer expectations. Hire smart at every level and retain the cream of the crop. Focus on and reward actual performance and not ability. By doing so, your actions will begin the change necessary to eliminate negative mindsets regarding workplace entitlements toward an agile, high functioning and sustainable organization that can endure and even prosper in an economic crisis.   

Copyright © 2009. Page-Byers Speaks. All Rights Reserved.

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