Here are the big business issues that will drive the way we work in 2010 and some ideas on how to tackle them.
The recession forced organisations to cut costs and review supply chain efficiency. This will have caused restructuring and realigning, along some job losses, but it will leave businesses leaner, with the potential for higher profit margins in future. Management must continue to look for efficient delivery systems and resist the temptation to “add fat” when the economic situation improves.
In North America and Europe, 25 percent or more of the workforce will be over 50 in less than a decade (see chart above). This change also applies to customers. In 2012 the over-45 customer group becomes over 40 percent larger than the 20-45 range and they will have the most money to spend. Companies should ensure customer-facing staff reflect this shift to older buyers. Inside companies, management needs to keep older staff and leverage their skills and intellectual capital more effectively, as research shows the over-50s have good or better skills than their younger peers.
Despite the recessionary doom-mongers, globalisation is here to stay. If anything, people will be more mobile. But a centralised approach to core services delivers more economies of scale. Globalisation means that managers must operate on two levels — globally, in order to maximise efficiency, and locally to maximise customer service.
Social responsibility and the environment
The pressure from both internal and external stakeholders will force management to ensure that social responsibility and green issues are almost always a consideration. Organisations will be expected to demonstrate their credentials and be transparent. Not only will they be compared to peers, but social and environmental issues are likely to become a bigger influence in customers’ purchasing decisions.
Change as a way of working
The pace will increase yet further, and so will the volume of information individuals must manage. It will be essential for organisations to separate the critical from the irrelevant — and quickly. Managers should also align ongoing change to a clear vision of the future. Change without purpose causes confusion, worrying and mental exhaustion.
With increasing access to information, customers are able to compare more potential providers. So businesses must deliver the best products and services in the market if they are to attract and retain customers. Management has to ensure that service is at the top of every team’s objectives, whether or not they are customer-facing.
Simplicity of process and structure
Complex structures and systems can hamper a company’s ability to respond. People like having expert knowledge that demonstrates their value, but this often leads to more complication or management levels than necessary and impedes communication. Management must ensure that processes, structures and communication are kept simple and focused. Communication across boundaries is vital to effective delivery.
Performance and engagement
Much depends on the ability of the leaders to get discretionary effort. Management has to ensure that leaders at every level are developed to encourage this extra effort. This is often neglected in management development.
If people’s efforts are spread across a large number of possible outcomes, its impact is diffused. In organisations where the effort is aligned to a small number of key deliverables the benefits are significant.
It is only through leaders being able to inspire, develop and align team efforts that organisations succeed. This applies to those responsible for the performance of people. Leadership is often thought of as a “nice to have” linked to HR. It is not. Management must focus in on making sure good leadership is a “need to have” that underpins every activity.
Focus on the following:
• Get your organisation lean
• Think global and deliver local
• Social responsibility and green issues are need to haves not nice to haves now.
• Change must have a clear purpose
• Keep structure, processes, communication and delivery simple
• All actions must benefit the customer
• Engage your people to maximise their performance and align it onto key deliverables.
• Use the skills of your older workers
• You must have good leaders at all levels — everything else depends on that.