‘Bad’ staff ? Fire lead­ers en masse

CityPress - - Business - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@city­press.co.za

My com­pany runs work­shops that seek to find the pur­pose of or­gan­i­sa­tions. As part of the process, we ask the in­di­vid­ual staff mem­ber about his or her pur­pose in life, be­cause nei­ther the busi­ness nor the em­ployee can thrive if their val­ues are in con­flict.

Need­less to say, the work­shops re­veal a lot about man­age­ment, staff and the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Of­ten, they con­firm the old adage that birds of a feather flock to­gether.

In com­pa­nies formed through merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions, one can clearly and quickly see the chasm be­tween the ac­quir­ing com­pany and the ac­quired. There is noth­ing like a merger of equals. Where the lead­ers of the new com­pany are all equally strong, the com­pany col­lapses from its own weight.

Where a clearly dom­i­nant leader emerges, the weaker ones fall by the way­side through nat­u­ral at­tri­tion, and the val­ues of the dom­i­nant side pre­vail through­out the com­pany.

I have learnt through these work­shops that the dom­i­nant trait in South African busi­ness is that staff are al­ways will­ing to help. If most work­ing South Africans didn’t have to work for a liv­ing, they would spend much of their lives help­ing the des­ti­tute.

This is why the “beg­ging in­dus­try” is thriv­ing. Car-guard num­bers are grow­ing not only be­cause of crime, but be­cause mo­torists want to give a help­ing hand. This has been open to abuse by both crime syn­di­cates and se­cu­rity firms, which push out the lone­some car guard, re­plac­ing him or her with their own, un­reg­is­tered “em­ploy­ees”, and col­lect­ing money from them.

Our na­tional com­pas­sion is ev­i­denced by the suc­cess of such un­of­fi­cial na­tional days as Man­dela Day where the work­ing world goes out to lend a help­ing hand.

In our coun­try, there is a big dis­con­nect be­tween political lead­er­ship, which is in the mode of re­ceiv­ing rather than giv­ing, and the peo­ple.

When there is such a glar­ing lack of align­ment be­tween the peo­ple and their lead­ers, a cred­i­bil­ity gap arises, which ex­poses the coun­try to a ma­jor re­volt. The same is true in busi­ness. If the staff mis­trusts man­age­ment, it is only a ques­tion of time be­fore the com­pany folds.

Staff mem­bers be­come re­cal­ci­trant and some­times even tell cus­tomers to go to com­peti­tors for bet­ter prices and ser­vice.

Once a busi­ness is caught up in that web of dis­trust, it is bet­ter for the share­hold­ers to fire man­age­ment en masse.

When a com­pany is strug­gling and man­age­ment con­sis­tently flaunts its ex­pen­sive Ital­ian toys, em­ploy­ees will start to re­sist.

They will de­mand un­rea­son­able in­creases and loy­alty will go to the dogs.

Pleas and in­struc­tions mean very lit­tle; the ex­am­ple set by top man­age­ment is likely to be fol­lowed. The same is true in pol­i­tics.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and the peo­ple will fol­low the ac­tions of the politi­cians rather than their pro­nounce­ments.

Peo­ple will ask them­selves: What is wrong with get­ting my­self a lit­tle hut if politi­cians get them­selves es­tates?

When staff sus­pect that man­age­ment helps it­self to the till, they will take that as per­mis­sion to help them­selves too.

It goes with­out say­ing that, in South Africa, char­ity and so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity projects should not be the ex­clu­sive perk of top man­age­ment.

True, the leader of the or­gan­i­sa­tion must be present when a cheque is of­fered for the cam­eras, but the com­pany must find a way to make the whole staff feel they are a part of this.

When one looks at the qual­ity of South African peo­ple, cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity is not a nice-to-have – it must be an in­te­gral part of the hu­man re­sources strat­egy to mo­ti­vate staff.

It must also be the means to fos­ter re­la­tions be­tween the com­pany and the com­mu­nity from which its staff comes. Kuzwayo is the founder of Ig­ni­tive,

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