08 Mar Getting beyond the vortex of corporate mediocrity
You cannot commoditize talent when the key skills for today’s success are flexibility, adaptability, creativity, and technology. You have to pay for talent in order to compete in the global marketplace. This transcends all industries and organizations.
There is a misperception that there is a shortage of highly skilled, technical people in this country. The reality is that there are many qualified, highly skilled, technical people here, but many companies don’t want to pay their salaries.
This management misperception has been going on for several years, even before 9/11, but only now are you starting to see some of the long-term effects of overzealous right-sizing, downsizing, force reductions, outsourcing – name your euphemism.
Jams, blams, and no thank you, ma’am
Some companies have gotten rid of a lot of their systems people over the last several years in the name of right-sizing, off-shoring, or whatever. They have decimated some of their core systems support and replaced it with cheap, mediocre substitutes. Customer service has dropped, some customers have left and, in some cases, organizations have brought their call centers back into the United States to turn around the losses.
In the short-term, budgets were cut too “lean-and-mean,” but as demands grew and systems aged, these decisions were in some cases the wrong ones.
Some organizations are left in a jam with hollow systems and ones that are constantly being patched. The skills walked out and were escorted to the door. There are some organizations that have kept up and have spent money, but those are the exception and not the rule.
With corporate compliance issues like Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA, these weaknesses are being constantly uncovered and costing companies much more in fines and penalties, not to mention the cost of “getting it right” again.
All companies fear compliance audits by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Labor because they know that their systems may not be as good as they thought. They pray that their systems are fixed before the auditors show up. All of a sudden, that $500,000 cost reduction in systems support sounds pretty dumb compared to an $18 million hit in penalties by the SEC. Who made THAT bonehead decision?
Companies also are getting into a jam as more people opt not to give two-week’s notice when they are fed up with being overworked and under-recognized. I was just interviewed by someone writing an article for a Human Resources Journal that was surprised at my stance on not giving two-week’s notice. She wanted to know how organizations could combat that, and I said that they could have mutual 30-day notice clauses or termination clauses, but I am sure the HR experts would recommend it stay one-sided.
Face it, immediate resignations are definitely on the rise. I am just reflecting on what has been happening due to poor corporate policies that were instituted by HR experts and consultants.
Blam. You just lost your top person and he or she is leaving immediately. Maybe you should have given them a little more recognition. Too late now.
There has been a definite change in values in the work force as immediate force reduction dismissals, used as an accepted practice, have in turn spawned immediate resignations and voluntary departures as an accepted practice by individuals.
Most people at many levels are thinking about it now because companies didn’t know that a bridge is a two-way street and “burning your bridges” can apply to them as well.
As for problems due to lack of good people on staff, there is a major multi-national company that has a system cutover in France that is so messed up they have sent people out there for weeks to try to fix it. Things are all messed up and no one has a clue.
There also is a major financial firm looking at implementing a critical systems conversion and has a crazy systems conversion plan. Two days for running in parallel and no contingency plans or fall back plans to the original system once the new system is in place. It sounds like the people that planned the process have never been through a real systems conversion.
Now general management is very worried because someone with real systems experience has pointed it out, even though that person is not in the systems group. The systems people are trying to get the general management people to sign off on it now, and they are telling them, “No thank you, ma’am.”
Where did all the people go that knew the systems development process? Evidently they were swept away and those that remained don’t have a clue.
People are our assets
“People are the assets that determine our success or failure.” This was part of a statement by a retired Air Force general. This is a great credo to have, but is it really just a bunch of empty words?
There was a great quote that I have used before from the former ITT Chairman, Harold Geneen:
Words are words,
Explanations are explanations, and
Promises are promises; but
Only performance is reality.
It seems like so many companies are driven by slogans, rah-rah statements, and corporate golf shirts with their logo on them that they do not see the realities of their poor performance – not only in dealing with people but also their performance in the marketplace.
I have always advised clients and taught in courses that you get what you pay for, and there’s no such thing as a new $5,000 Rolls-Royce. If you want quality, performance and the reliability, you have to pay for it. When are people going to learn?
CARLINI-ISM: When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
Copyright 2007 – James Carlini
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This article previously appeared in MidwestBusiness.com, and was reprinted with its permission.
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