You know, when I started out in corporate life, the philosophy that was pervasive was ‐ more is better! Crank out the volume, produce more and more and never stop!
Truthfully, many (and I mean MANY!) years later some organisations are still signed up to that belief. However, the enlightened ones have come to realise that less can very often be much better than more!
In our world today, there does exist that culture of freneticism – get more done, work long hours, have as many meetings as is humanly possible, diversify, multiply, get bigger faster – and on it goes!
I am not blaming technology, but sometimes the way we use it contributes to this frantic approach. I suppose what technology has done is enable us to get vast amounts of information quicker ‐ literally at our fingertips! Technology also enables us to be connected 24/7 in any corner of the world, which is simultaneously wonderful and terrifying. For all its wonder, this can lead to significant overwhelm and burnout.
What is even worse, is that in some situations this freneticism is accepted as the status quo.
I recently had a conversation with the director of a large division of a multi-national, and what I have just described is how they operate ‐ and they simply accept that as the norm! Terrifying!
Thankfully, more enlightened organisations think differently, and now believe that the “pedal to the metal” philosophy is somewhat dated and belongs in the past. This change in thinking has not come about due to some “road to Damascus” bolt of inspiration. We now know that there is a huge price to be paid for the “pedal to the metal” culture. The consequence of this culture is that no quality time is spent on planning, strategising, developing people or market analysis. We are all simply too busy!
Not only is there a price to be paid in the workplace, but our people go home drained and exhausted, with a high level of stress and return the next day in less than stellar condition to perform at a high level.
My experience would tell me that organisations who value volume and speed above all else, spend little time looking over the parapet, and consequently, become introspective and isolationist. Those organisations have an approach to “sweat” their assets to extract the maximum. I am all for sweating assets, but not when it comes to people. All you end up achieving is burnout, frustration and disengagement.
The consultancy firm, Perrins, did some interesting research a number of years ago which really brought some statistics to support this point. They researched almost 100,000 employees across about 20 countries and they found the following:
- 40% of those researched said they turned up, did the work, but did not feel committed.
- 38% said they were disenchanted and totally disengaged from their work
- only 20% said they were really engaged with their companies and would go the extra mile.
The first 2 groups worked in the “pedal to the metal” type of companies, the latter in a “less is more” culture. Does this have an impact of long term viability and performance of a business? You bet it does, and the research went on to support it.
Check this out!
- The organisations that had the most committed staff had, on average, of 19% increase in income, and a 28% increase in share price.
- The businesses with low levels of engagement suffered a 32% decrease in income, and a corresponding 11% drop in share price.
- 90% of staff who felt engaged had no intention of leaving, while 50% of those who had low commitment were considering moving on. Now that has an impact on bottom line!
So, what does this tell us?
Very simply, if you want to have a high performance organisation, then you must take the time to strategise, review, plan and develop your people. You simply cannot do that if you are running at a 100 miles per hour.
So, which one does your organisation look more like? If you don’t like what you see – then do something about it!