I’ve been watching the “Undercover Boss” series on Channel 4 and have been encouraged by some of the stories where CEOs realise (at a personal “human” level) that “people are the foundation of any company”.
For me, what comes across from this series is that more C-suite executives (and senior management) should invest time and energy “caring” and “connecting” with the people who report into them as well as the people “on the ground” making the company truly profitable and competitive.
In my 15 years of experience, I have had the good fortune to work as an Interim Manager and Consultant in several organisations across several sectors. I’ve found that several companies do not invest in their people and, perhaps worst of all, don’t really know what their employees do. Much time is typically spent doing “business-as-usual” (BAU) activities while activities which affect P&L, strategy, innovation, competitiveness and make the company attractive to new recruits are often outsourced to 3rd parties and (sometimes) offshore organisations.
While there is a return to business process re-engineering (typically involving business process modelling and change management) as well as LEAN Six Sigma; many of these activities rely on 3rd parties, management consultants and contractors and are often met with cynicism and suspicion by employees. Moreover, employees sometimes feel that they are being unfairly scrutinised and are opening themselves (and the processes/activities/work they do) to criticism.
Over the last 3 years in particular, I’ve worked with some companies who have severely neglected their people; the C-suite have under invested in “people, process and technology”. Many of these companies publicly “appear” to be very successful but internally often have archaic processes, limited vision and unclear strategies.While the C-suite and management tier are “busy” managing and doing boardroom activities, there are often “unsung heroes” across the organisation that are the ones who demonstrate excellent management/leadership skills, follow pragmatic processes, keep up morale and do many things that keep departments/functions afloat. All of these things are typically unrecognised and, in instances where there is recognition, there is often a lack of incentives or rewards to (1) publicly recognise these heroes and (2) invest in these individuals and provide them with the due care and support they deserve.
There must be a better way that doesn’t have to rely on “unsung heroes” but instead embraces all ideas and engages all people (who want to engage) to make things better.
On the flip side, there are other companies who do get it. What’s common is that in these organisations, there is a strong emphasis on coaching, mentoring and career development (often through some form of Training Strategy). The organisation typically sees the employee as key to its success and not just “a number” or (worse) a robot.
We should not forget that the people of any organisation are the true fabric that helps generate profit, healthy share options and competitiveness.
Lets stop fuelling the need for unsung heroes and make EVERYONE in an organisation accountable and responsible for its success.