Everyone’s an expert. Given the chance to be CEO, I’d certainly know what to do. There’d be free coffee all round and don’t get me started on the long lunchtimes we should all be having. You, too, may spend many a happy hour righting your company’s wrong-doings. What would be on your wish list if you were CEO? And is it all as simple as it sounds?
1) Cut red tape
Pointless red tape drives people to distraction. Surely everyone just wants to get on and do a good job? Time spent form-filling is so soul-destroying that it’s no wonder people hate it.
On the other hand, without some level of control and order, how can we keep track of who’s done what? How do we know what still needs to be done, and when it needs to be reviewed or replaced?
CEO Mikael Ohlsson, who retired as CEO of IKEA recently, recognised that red tape was a genuine problem. He said “we see that the process to go through all the administrative procedures is taking longer and longer. We need to learn how to deal with it by having more projects on the go.”
The trick is to make sure there’s enough order and regulation to ensure everything is effective and efficient, but without it stifling what really matters. Perhaps there should be a form to make sure forms are reviewed regularly for usefulness?
2. Allocate more holiday
The benefits of rest and relaxation are well documented. When well-rested, productivity increases and stress is reduced. Surely we should all have an increased holiday allowance?
Mind you, holidays have increased. At the turn of the last century, people could expect one or two days a year. Nowadays, between 35 and 45 days (including Bank holidays) is typical. This has been possible because of the huge productivity gains that have been made across all industries. So, it seems that increased productivity leads to an increase in holidays. Interesting.
Subscription video service, Netflix, was one of the first companies to offer its employees unlimited paid vacation. The only condition is that they need to ensure that they get their work done. That seems very reasonable. Maybe that’s the way things are going?
3. Increase pay
It seems that there’s an announcement in the news every day about the latest multi-million pound profit. Surely this should be distributed more evenly amongst the hard-working staff? After all, isn’t it because of the work done in the trenches that profits are made?
We also know that companies need to provide a return to shareholders, invest in the future, put funds aside for rough times and pay hard-working staff. If any of these are out of kilter, share-holders will start dumping stock, new products or services are put on hold, and radical job cuts are made. Perhaps it’s not an easy balancing act after all!
4. Get rid of rotten apples
Every organisation seems to contain a proportion of employees who can only have got their jobs through cronyism. There’s no doubt that they’d be on the hit list.
Jack Welch, former CEO of G.E would agree. He advises: “you measure your people and you take action on those that don’t measure up”. It seems that a good CEO would agree with that item on our wish list.
5. Increase training
Only a big-headed person would believe she wouldn’t benefit from extra training from time to time. Once those rotten apples go, there’d surely be plenty of funding to improve those still on the payroll.
Training is vital, and it’s one of the areas that a CEO needs to consider for allocating funding. Best Buy Chief Executive Officer, Hubert Joly, recognised the importance of employee training back in 2012. He focused more resources on training employees after an uneven performance among stores led to sales declines.
6. Communicate better
How difficult can it be just to keep everyone informed all the time? We all want to know what’s happening and a quick email would do the trick.
Sadly, this this appears to be easier said than done. No matter how many meetings we’re in, how many speeches we give, how many internal newsletters go out or emails are sent, there are always some people who don’t know the latest news. Getting everyone to listen is tough.
George Lossius, CEO of Publishing Technology has said “in my experiences over the last few years, during which I’ve experimented with a variety of different internal communication tactics, I’ve learnt that it is fundamental to approach this area with your eyes, ears and mind wide open.” So, good, clear, regular communication is vital.
7. Cut working hours
If it’s not about the hours, it’s about output, then why shouldn’t we all work a 9 to 5 day? That would be the work/life balance sorted out! Wouldn’t it?
CEO of Dupont, Ellen Kullman wouldn’t agree. She explains “it’s not about having a specific set time; both personal and professional lives are 24/7. It’s simply, more about making the right allocation to each one and recognising that it’s going to be different every single day”.
And further, Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup, adds, “balance suggests a perfect equilibrium. There is no such thing. That is a false expectation. There are going to be priorities and dimensions of your life, how you integrate them is how you find true happiness.”
Hmm. It’s all very well having a wish list, but, like many things in life, the problems that are solved around the water cooler, are always more complicated than on first consideration. I guess the real question is, though, what would you actually do if you were CEO for the day?
Author: Heather Foley is a consultant at 360 degree feedback expert, etsplc.com.