10 August 2011 Leave a comment
OR – times are hard, let’s stop eating!
Of course, that’s a crazy idea. So why in business do we so often find almost a direct parallel?
Most people who have had anything to do with manufacturing in any form know that the first thing that generally gets cut in a down turn is training and development.
Why? Because it’s seen as a ‘nice to have’ and most companies reckon they can do without it.
However, another more psychological reason lies back with Abraham Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs triangle. When business survival is at stake, we naturally go back down to the base of the triangle. We’re so focused on survival the idea of developing, right at the top of the triangle, is completely forgotten. A very natural ‘reaction’ when what we’re doing is purely reacting.
Useful here to remember that reactions happen outside of awareness, whilst responding happens with awareness.
Perhaps a more useful response might be to review the impact of the various development programmes going on and reduce those that are not going to have an immediate, negative impact.
So, in the very short term, that maybe true; note the ‘maybe’.
True, because things will seem to be normal. In fact there will be an important change almost immediately – a drop in morale, which many managers will not notice!
But who is in business for the short term? So we need to look at the longer term and see if there is any valid strategy for cutting back on the most vital resource for any business – it’s people.
Look what has happened to much of our manufacturing capability. Outsourced abroad. Clearly if it’s cheaper to do that then why wouldn’t you? And yet more frequently now I hear that the only way we’re going to pull out of this recession here in the UK is to start making things. Which means getting more manufacturing up and running again.
Why is it cheaper, though? Because, I believe, most British companies weren’t able to adapt and change quickly enough. Share holders or senior management got fed up and the decision to outsource abroad is made and seems logical.
Change is a funny thing. If it’s our idea then we’ll do it but if it is seen to be inflicted on us, resistance is guaranteed. This leads us into the next thing:
You can’t impose change. People need to be facilitated to find their own solutions. This means engaging with people and asking them. This is the only way towards successful change and requires high levels of interpersonal and communications skills.
Without these skills it is very difficult to develop the relationships which are necessary to encourage people to pull together in times of hardship. These do need developing in people and not to bother is a highly risky option.
So, investing money in planned and structured people development, where benefits and performance improvements can be identified, is a good use of money, especially in difficult times.
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