Organizations, almost all of them have a defined Vision for where they would want to be and which direction they would move into. Given that almost all the organizations have a vision to achieve great things like helping people by improving their lives, changing the world for good, create a heaven on earth, create happiness, and provide opportunities for individual growth and so on, but question is if this vision translates into reality or actions. All these vision statements organization have are centered on people but this seldom turns into the reality. To me all this looks very similar to what we see in politics where all the parties contesting the elections bring forth fancy vision documents for the betterment of the people. They do get elected on these vision and promises, but we all know what happens after that. Whoever comes to power is continuously busy fighting the opposition rather than working on the vision they put forward and promised to the people. Looks like very little time and energy is spent on fulfilling the vision. Isn’t it same for the corporate as well, who are more involved in reacting to their competition rather than working on their founding principles?
Organizations in a zest to overcome the competition start to hurt their own vision or start to alter their own foundations. The vision that was all about people sometime back starts to conflict with profitability of the very organization. Profitability cannot be the vision of an organization. Once this fierce competition starts and profitability goes down organizations starts deviating from their fundamental philosophy. This is where things go wrong as vision statement is still maintained but now it is the profitability that drives the organization. In the process organizations start to impact their own employees through layoffs in garb of improving the things or changing the things to become better. Larger question now is that “If an organization cannot manage or take care of its own employees, how you can expect them to take care of the entire world” You cannot kill your own people in the name of making difference to the world. I am strictly not talking about non-performers or indiscipline here.
Leadership of an organization is responsible for managing the vision through tough times. When you are going through the tough times Leaders need to come forward in accepting mistakes and take ownership of the same. Criteria should be the progress and growth of people and not that of the organization. Issue here is that “people” seems to be the most easily do away with resource or expense for the organizations. That’s how they lovingly call them HEAD COUNT, believe me they are not just a COUNT.
Leadership is all about creating trust, confidence and commitment but most of the organizations fail here. If the leadership is not strong and cannot ride the turbulence, organization start to decline from here on. It is all about human capital until the machines completely takes over.
Here are some leadership thoughts based on my experience:
· Leaders need to create a vision and stick to it. Maximizing profit or becoming number one in certain area is not the vision an organization can go after. Be clear on foundations of your vision, profit should not be put into it.
· Do not give mixed messages to the world and your own employees. There should be clarity of thoughts and it should be understood by the employees in full spirit. Let them feel they are not there to maximize profit but to deliver something significant
· Do not just react in adversity, trust your employees during the tough times and invest in them. Employees will do anything if they are trusted and genuinely asked for help. More confidence you show in your employees more are the chances of getting out of the tough situations
· Limit your aspirations as an organization, looks contrary but getting into wild competition puts the entire organization and its people at risk. If organization has to fail even after following its fundamentals and having a right vision it will fail. Do not fail your people before a failure.
· “Hire for Life” – Hire people with the intent of retaining them for life or as long as the organization survives. In the modern days of hiring and firing things do not augur well for the organizations. No sense of belongingness cannot be created with uncertainty. Do not hire with a short term goals in mind
· Choose your leaders wisely. Select managers for their interest and ability to grow people and not for what they can deliver or accomplish individually. Most of the organizations normally put the people in manager positions based on what projects or tasks they would have delivered, not knowing their people skills at all. Interesting part is what comes next, organizations after selecting these no so competent managers spent large amount of time and money to turn them into good managers. But they can’t because these people may not have the required talent
· When cost cutting becomes people cutting organizations starts to go into a downward spiral. It not only affects the people going out because of these actions but more so affects the people still staying in the organization. People tend to lose association, engagement and commitment in the process. First set of people going out in these situation should be the leadership team but unfortunately they sit and decide who should go.
· Do not pit people against each other in the name of competition for achieving better results. Often seen during performance appraisal process employees are ranked and rated against each other, one’s in the bottom are considered to be the non-performers and put under severe pressure. But the fact is that people in the bottom are not always the non-performers. When you create a competition among your employees through performance review process you are effectively asking them to show themselves above others. Now to get to the top bracket they would want to use all possible means to show themselves above others, many times through not so fair means. Emphasis should be on collaboration. Competition creates some heroes in the short term but large number of dissatisfied employees in the long term. Do not give the message that you care only about the high fliers. Not everyone is same but each one has something unique to offer, do identify that.
· Reward the Risk taking – Often organizations encourage risk taking and rightly so, this is where innovation comes from. We all know that all the risks taken will not materialize in fact most of them may fail to translate into anything significant. During the tough times risk taking takes a hit as well. In the scenarios where you are pitching for competition any failure would be looked into as non-performance. Who would take risks in such situation
I believe we can have place for everyone in the organization if we can realize the potential and not just look at everyone with same yardstick. Also I in the tough situations if the leadership is open about their own failures and have courage to admit them they will get full support from their employees. Last thing an organization needs is disengaged and distrustful employees in their most difficult times. So go on be with the employees, give them confidence and make sure they are always on your side.