Saturday, 25 April 2015

A diverse workforce is an advantage?

Diversity is a bit of a buzz word.  We are all, as employers, encouraged to monitor and manage diversity in our workforce.  But is there any evidence that having a diverse workforce makes any significant difference to an organisation?  Will I have better production, higher quality, more sales?

Anecdotal evidence is fine.  And, of course, there is a degree of 'intuition' about making sure you exploit the talents and skills of all parts of the potential workforce.  But 'real' difference?

I don't know ... BUT... I came across something the other day that make me think.

A paper was published recently in the journal  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggesting that when plant biodiversity declines, the remaining plants have lower productivity.

Can we draw a parallel with human diversity.  Probably not ... but it does make you think, doesn't it?

Sleep more, do more!

Are you a 'power worker'?  Do you get by with 4 hours sleep each night?   Do you brag about the time you spend on the business and the short time you spend asleep?

Well, I wouldn't bother.

Though there is a fashion to do just that, most of us know that an appropriate amount of sleep is necessary and important.  We can all function effectively on a small amount of sleep - for a short time.

But it catches up with you.  Your body fails to rejuvenate and refresh properly and your mind fails to process subconsciously all those little - and not so little - problems that are keeping you awake.  If you can find a way to get to sleep, you will find the problems become less insurmountable and less worrying.

So, if you are not sleeping, treat it not as a badge of honour but as an early-warning of impending failure - of you and/or your business.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Do you allow failure?

Being frightened of failure can be a motivating influence.  However it can also be a constraining factor causing people to 'play safe' and avoid risks.

Most change involves some risk - that things won't go to plan or as we expected.  But if we don't take those risks, we don't get the change - and the benefits it brings.

So you have to encourage your people to take a few risks - but managed risks.  We don't want our staff taking unplanned, unmeasured and unmitigated risks with our resources, our business.  So we have to train them to assess the risk - and to ensure they know how to recognise when all is not going to plan-  and what to do  about it.

Sometimes they will get this wrong - and we get a failure.  But if we have the right mix of risks - and especially the right mix of people - then our successful risks should far outweigh our failures.

As they say.... "Nothing ventured, nothing gained!"

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Its not the free coffee that works

We've all heard of the kinds of facilities that really forward-looking (and generally rich) companies provide for their employees.

So, have you thought what you might provide for your employees.

Well, I'm here to tell you that if you are considering new staff facilities - standing desks, write-on walls, table-tennis tables, free coffee, basketball hoops, or whatever - you are probably wasting your time.

What really interests and motivates employees is 'good work' - work which fully exploits their skills, provides a challenge, has a role in the overall company mission (and a role they understand), has a social dimension - and which gives them satisfaction, pride and personal reward.

If you can't provide such work, the other 'add-ons' aren't likely to help.

So, rather than look for 'benefits' you might provide, think hard about what you are asking employees to do for your company - and think how you might re-engineer it to provide self-motivating work.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Is it working for you?

The UK seems to have lost productivity - but gained jobs.  This seems about right.

Has it done the right thing?

Well, in the short term governments have to make decisions and adopt strategies to solve a problem, to get out of a crisis.

The UK government seems to have adopted policies that are enabling the UK to climb out of the pit of the financial crisis .... and since competitors are doing less well, the lower productivity is not a problem.

You might be one of the companies that has taken on workers - to meet growing orders.

But in the longer-term productivity IS important - it drives competitiveness and it drives wealth-creation, without creating inflation.

You will have to find a way of improving your productivity - preferably while you are still growing so you don't have to shed jobs and lose experience.

You might be hoping the the next government (after the election in May) can help you do this.