In the last couple of blogs I explored with you something that I believe is very important to business – throwing off the comfort blanket and not only working outside of the box but kicking the sides out completely and moving into the flow zone …
And when talking about innovation and creativity for business, moving into the flow zone is paramount for that’s where the new ideas and new ways of thinking will form and as they say “grow legs”. Of course unless businesses act on them they’ll only ever be good ideas but moving into that space makes a massive difference and from that place businesses can make a massive difference.
So when I saw an article in hr magazine this morning I smiled a wry smile, but a smile nevertheless. Towers Watson, one of the leading HR and reward consultants has produced a Global Workforce study which says the vast majority of workers (77%) feel stuck in their roles and the ability to advance their careers has either got worse or stayed the same. Further more Britain’s businesses have hit a productivity wall.
Their head of organisational insights and surveys, Yves Duhaldeborde, said in a recent article, “the research paints a worrying picture of Standstill Britain where UK PLC and workers are stuck in a rut without tools, the inclination or support they need to progress”. And why did this make me smile? Because this is what I’ve been talking about and writing about for some time now but currently I don’t have the resources behind me to produce an extensive survey.
My take on it – and this is supported by the businesses that I have worked with and talk to – is that many businesses have simply been battening down the hatches so much that they have gone into lockdown. By cutting back and saving costs as much as possible they’ve cut back so far there is no fat left and in some cases barely any meat on the bone, so to speak.
The only cuts they can make now are the people, and that’s not cutting out excess people, just the people who do; however, if they cut out these people then what happens to the business? It will impact on the service being delivered, the products being made, and the support for the business enabling the business to be a business.
The overall impact of a business in lockdown is that business owners and leaders are in danger of micro managing as they want to tightly control everything; this has a knock on effect on the people in the business as they spend a lot of time reporting and justifying, and start to forget about taking real ownership and accountability. And it promulgates through the organisation as the people at the top start to micro manage, and really do sweat the small stuff, then so will the senior managers, and then the middle managers and so on: in effect stifling the people in the business and so by dint, stifling the business.
And by being caught up in that mode of thinking and acting there is no room for new thought, no head space to think about new opportunities or maybe even explore existing opportunities to the full. And not only that there’s no consideration being given to the cost of not doing so only to the cost of running the business as it is.
Such an environment often means that, when people do propose new or different ways of doing things or products or services, they aren’t being truly considered and given the attention they deserve because business owners and leaders have often lost sight of the bigger picture. Eventually people simply stop sharing the new ideas or even stop having them. And so it’s not surprising that people feel they’re at a standstill or stuck.
Businesses clearly have a choice – they can stay as they are or do something different; what they can’t do is to stay where they are doing the same things, taking the same type of decisions and expecting a different result.
At heart, most business owners and leaders want to seize the moment and open up themselves, the business and people in the business to new opportunities and or expand existing opportunities but they simply don’t know how to or are operating from a place of fear which results in business paralysis.
There has to be a paradigm shift – it may be becoming a clich but never have the pundits and commentators said a truer word. Lockdown Britain is not sustainable for businesses, the economy or people. Lockdown UK PLC is missing so many opportunities and needs, as Duhaldeborde says, to inject innovation, creativity and confidence back into their businesses. And they can do that by relaxing the micro management, showing the people in the business that they really do want to hear and discuss their innovative and creative ideas, are open to new opportunities and then most importantly investing in the business and those innovative ideas.
Whichever one they choose, it does need to work even if the success is different to the anticipated success; that’s where some of the nervousness and fear might impact. Decisions have to be made for the right reason and not just to make a ‘quick buck’ so to speak.
If businesses don’t feel they have the tools or resources to make the change then now is the time to invest in that too; again choosing wisely in their partners since working in the same old way won’t make the difference and enable them to move from ‘locked down’ to truly ‘open for business’.
Do you feel as though your business is in lock down? Call me on +44 (0) 1296 681 094, ping me an email or leave a comment if you’d like to talk further.
Until next time …