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Interesting Times

There is a Chinese proverb that says: "May you live in interesting times" and we certainly do. More than at any time that I can remember we are facing unprecedented changes that impact on our lives and our careers. There are plenty of challenges ahead and also plenty of opportunities.

Let me share you some examples I am seeing at the moment in organisations I am working with.
The psychological contract 
This is being challenged in all sectors. With changes to terms of conditions, lower pay increases and less opportunity for progression we are starting to see a small but steady increase in workplace disputes. Much of our work is with organisations who want us to help them with employee unrest, low morale and a reduction in “going the extra mile”.
Part of making reductions means the inevitable rush towards easy cuts without consideration of the impact. Cutting training and development can create long-term damage and can also result in skills deficits. Voluntary severance is another worrying area - it’s all very well making those who want to go redundant but are they the right people? What if later down the track you don’t have the right people with the right skills in the right jobs?
Less Money
There is certainly less money to go around. For many organisations the gap in their finances that is developing presents new challenges that have not been tackled before. With less money about people become more discerning where they spend it, want more for it and take less risks. The services we provide will be under increasing scrutiny.
Customers are also feeling the impact of the financial down turn. The cost of living has increased, salaries are frozen, bonuses are non-existent and everyone is feeling the pinch. This makes them question what they are paying and what they are getting in return.
When things are tough people become scared of anything new. The problem we have is that to survive and to do well we need behaviours that are the opposite of these. We need entrepreneurs in our organisations who can take well informed risks.  
There is an opportunity to redefine the role of the organisation, reinvent direction and create a new future. Over time organisations forget who they are here to serve and what their core purpose is. They develop grand vision statements that everyone promptly forgets. The current atmosphere gives us an opportunity to re-look at the values and to see if they represent what we want them to.
No core
We can also get rid of non-core work; stopping those things that do not add value and streamline the bureaucratic processes. It is very liberating to get rid of things that you know add no value and often your front line staff will have some fantastic ideas about the areas that could be cast aside. 
Become a band of entrepreneurs
My view is that we can take a more entrepreneurial approach to leading our organisations. There are so many opportunities to be creative and take well-managed risks.
It’s also a great time to develop partnerships and networks as we can become too insular in our sectors. Each sector has a different language or system, but they all have many similarities too. I have spent years developing cross-sector networks as there is so much to learn from others and so much they can learn from you.
Do you recognise any of the above in your organisations? How are you adjusting in your company? 




 angela O'Connor

01-05-12 01:44PM

Thanks Lisa I agree, and the work needs to start now to skill up staff in these areas if successes are to be realised.vgvtyp

 Lisa Grainger

26-04-12 09:56AM

Your insights into what is happening in terms of the appetite for risk and the need for entreprenuerial spirit may be particularly problematic for local government. Ideas such as 'spin-outs', mutualism and empowering the community to run local services will be difficult to realise if service commissioners lack entreprenuerial appetite and skills.

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