I am not sure when it actually became OK for companies to ‘make the numbers’ by cost cutting with people’s jobs when it is clearly their strategy that sucks. In Australia we don’t have any laws requiring justifications for collective redundancies as they do in some other countries. But it’s not laws I am talking about. It’s leadership.
NAB announced 6000 redundancies last November. Hard to relate to that number isn’t it? To understand that represented 18% of their workforce is hard to grasp in a world where everyone seems so pressed with completing what they have in front of them on any given day. Look around your office and imagine 1 of every 5 not there. Automation was apparently the answer. At the same time they announced a $6.6 B profit that quarter.
When have we heard a CEO in front of their organisation, at the time they are announcing job losses say,
- We got it wrong, I got it wrong
- We got complacent
- We weren’t paying attention and the market moved
- We stopped listening to our customers
- I have just been so busy on the day to day, the avalanche of meetings and emails, that we haven’t had time to upgrade our strategy
In this powerful TED talk from Simon Sinek (no not THAT one – THIS one) he says
“In the military they give medals to people who are willing to sacrifice themselves so that others may gain, in business we give bonuses to people who are willing to sacrifice others so that [they] may gain”
What I see, is at the very time when you are facing more of the DANGER Simon describes, via more change than before, your organisation has turned up the volume, turned on the tap and opened the doors to busy noise. Leaders are spending less time on future strategy. When that future arrives more quickly, business performance suffers. Then the first reaction is cut the biggest fixed cost – people. The people who lose their jobs first aren’t the people in charge of the strategy that failed. Its time for a different mindset and its never too late. The medium term is here already and what you are thinking is the long term is close on its heels. Leaders must actively, consistently, belligerently work on What’s NEXT?.
Don’t be the ‘manager’ that cuts
Be the leader that creates
Some in your organisation think your job is to help them, to decide for them, to give them recognition, to add your weight, your presence, to get across their stuff, to meet, to award, to do deals, to reduce risk, to hire, to approve…yes it all comes with the territory. Just as the celebrity actor has to attend launches, do interviews, rehearse and sign autographs – they still know their biggest responsibility is to lead the cast of the next blockbuster. There is no more important role as the leader of a business than to get the strategy right. It’s about blockbuster quarters. Too long without these quarters and the pressure mounts to cut.
If you need help, get it, it’s your job. Lead when its hard to, lead when you don’t have time, lead when it’s rough, lead the right way so your people trust you. And most of all – lead the business to where it can flourish.
Got a strategy?
Got a strategy you are proud of?
Got a strategy that doesn’t cut headcount (that’s a euphemism for people)?
Got a strategy that creates new growth?
Got a strategy that is working?
Got a strategy that your people are proud of?
Got a strategy that someone else will call disruption?