Sunday, February 25

PEOPLE COME – PEOPLE GO

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Managers who are motivated only by job security, by perks and compensation levels, by a higher status or position in society are driven by their egos rather than principles. They are ‘net-takers’. They tend to cling to power, play on personal loyalties, and seek out subordinates who are subservient. Sounds familiar? Such managers are bad for business.

It’s high time we realized that organizations today are no longer in a position to provide people the comfort of job security. This was a practice of the early 50s and 60s when the business environment was more stable and predictable. This is no longer the case. The fact is that people come and people go. The sooner we realize this, the better. Times have changed radically.

Loyalty in the past was seen as number of years served in an organization. While loyalty as a quality is still valued, its meaning has shifted dramatically. Today, a loyal professional is viewed as someone who adds value every day, takes personal responsibility for self and career development, keeps relevant colleagues, including HR in the loop with plans, finds and grooms successor, in order to move on to a new role or level within own organization or outside.

It is hard to believe that only a few decades ago, organizations chose not to invest in people for fear of losing them to competition. Now, it is exactly the opposite. You’ll lose talent if you don’t provide them with the opportunity to learn and grow. In fact, HR departments in leading organizations now proudly proclaim that they help employees improve their CVs. They also state that every job has an expiry date!

Leadership practices aligned to the laws of nature are more likely to be sustainable. No self-respecting and aware employee would like to stick to one job for too long. It is therefore important to acknowledge the need for change and plan for staff turnover. This not only ensures having continuous inflow of new blood into the system, but also creates a motivating and challenging environment in which people don’t get the opportunity to fall into their comfort zones.

What gets rewarded gets done. This often-used phrase warrants serious reflection. It has been a long-held tradition that employers, in their desire to attract talent, inadvertently play on human weaknesses. These include: security of tenure, desire for status and attractive compensation packages. As a result, terms like ‘golden handcuffs’ became fashionable. Instead, we ought to, “Reward reliability and execution of strategy AND those who are honest about failures. Recognize and promote emotional intelligence, and make every leader face up to and deal with failures, lack of effort or dishonorable behavior.”[1]

Why retain managers who are not adding value? No wonder such employers suffer dissonance when they find managers hired on this basis, ill-suited to meeting the challenges of the rapidly changing and increasingly competitive business environment. Such companies find themselves over-managed and under-led. They end up becoming unresponsive to customer needs and inflexible.

The message is loud and clear: Focus on employability, by investing in your people. This way you will build their capacity to deliver and contribute value. As the word spreads, others seeking growth will be attracted to your organization.

Managers and leaders today need to constantly reinvent themselves. An attitude of responsibility, flexibility and commitment will make your enterprise more adaptive, competitive and resilient.

To this end, build an enterprise culture. This demands a high degree of daring and risk-taking, combined with a vital dose of wisdom and emotional intelligence.  How do you find such people? By playing on their strengths that match yours! Look out for people who will help create and nurture a high-trust and a high-performance culture where empowerment and leadership at all levels are very evident. This is particularly true if you are in a fast growing and intensely competitive industry like the telecoms, pharmaceuticals, FMCGs and banks.

To attract the kind of talent you need, look for people who exhibit passion to embrace challenges, show keenness to contribute by making a positive difference, and are committed to continuous learning for their personal and professional growth.

It is not surprising to come across examples of disgruntled employees who are caught up in a quagmire of mismatched expectations. Tragically, there are many companies that demand receptivity to change, while their managers seek to protect their hard-won turf. This kind of perpetual internal tussle causes acrimony and waste of valuable energy and time.

What can be done about this self-inflicted dilemma? Employers, whether commercial enterprises or non-profits, need to revisit their recruitment strategy to ensure the right fit between vision, strategy and people. I recall a meeting with a board member of a sizeable non-profit engaged in healthcare. He shared the difficulty his organization was facing in hiring and retaining a CEO. In the previous five years, five CEOs had come and gone within one year of joining! On enquiring as to why this may have happened, I got a confused response, “You see, we have tried our level best to attract a suitable candidate. We have researched CEO salary packages of top multinational pharmaceuticals and have tried to match it. Despite our efforts, we just can’t seem to find someone who is committed enough to serve in our organization!” What we can glean from this example is simple. If you attract people on the basis of high pay, they’ll leave as soon as they get a substantially better offer. It’s only to be expected. The very premise of hiring was flawed.

During a selection interview in an inspiring organization, a candidate was asked, “Other than your personal/family circumstances, what job-related factor/s would cause you to leave this company?” The candidate answered emphatically, “If you don’t let me grow and express my talent, I’ll resign.” fifteen years on, this gentleman is continuing to grow the business, while furthering his career ambitions in a variety of entrepreneurial roles within the organization. He is achieving this by empowering his team and giving them all the headroom they need to perform magically.

Managers who are motivated only by job security, by perks and compensation levels, by a higher status or position in society are driven by their egos rather than principles. They are ‘net-takers’. They tend to cling to power, play on personal loyalties, and seek out subordinates who are subservient. Sounds familiar? Such managers are bad for business.

Find ‘net-givers’ instead. These are individuals who don’t see loyalty as the number of years served, but by the value they add each day. Net-givers share their knowledge with their colleagues freely and encourage candor in their subordinates. They are always on the look out for successors, so that they can delegate and move on to higher levels of responsibility within, or outside their organization.

Net-givers find security in their skill and competence, instead of assurances of job security and the next promotion from their seniors.

When ‘net-givers’ go to the next level or a new role, they leave talent behind that not only continue their legacy, but improve on it.

This post was first published on our strategic partner’s website: www.kzr.co

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[1] Excerpt from  The Business General, by Deborah Tom & Richard Barrons published by Random House.

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About Author

Kamran founded KZR Associates in 1991 and pioneered the self-improvement and organizational development (OD) movement in Pakistan. Kamran serves on the boards of Navitus, SoL, SoLF and is founding member and vice president of the Intercultural Communication and Leadership School (ICLS: www.intercivilization.net) headquartered in Rome. He has authored four books and contributes articles on management and leadership to Pakistan’s leading business magazine, Blue Chip (www.bluechipmag.com).

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