Word Count: 6,612 approx (45-minute presentation followed by 15 minutes of Q&A)
Type: CEO Keynote speech for National Industry Conference
Topic: Employees are People First – the Human Side of Outsourcing
Good afternoon & welcome!
My name is [redacted]. I just want to take a quick second to thank everyone for coming out to spend some time with us today, and also to the [redacted] conference team for inviting me to participate with you today.
A little about my background – I’m just a small town guy. I was born in a little town called Dauphin, Manitoba, about four hours northwest of Winnipeg. My father worked in the automotive industry and by the age of 12, I had lived in 5 different places, spanning 3 different provinces.
My life started out adapting to change. I had to make new friends, acclimate to new cities and schools… I became conditioned for resilience. At that young age, a seed had been planted in my mind. How do people get things done? I’ve spent the following years cultivating that seed and expanding my education and experience in the interest of human behaviour—specifically in business. Not always in the context of human resources, but more so in the context of how things get done in business. How do you leverage the people in your organization that are arguably your most important and expensive asset? It’s been quite an interesting ride so far.
I should tell you… I’m not an economist, we’re not PR experts, and there is likely nothing that I can tell you about outsourcing that you don’t already know. So, what do I know? I know people, I know relationships, I know human behaviour, and I know change.
Context for a few moments
In business and in life, the one thing that stays constant is change. Everything in our life is in constant change, constantly in the process of becoming something else. Our finances, friendships, career possibilities, life opportunities, health, children, parents, pets, daily activities, insights, and of course time itself. Five minutes ago it was 1975 and I was wearing polyester suit pants with a sporty corduroy jacket that had reinforced elbows. A fashion statement that seems unthinkable now. And technology, technology has evolved and transformed life so that we are living our lives and doing business in ways that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Everything around us is constantly changing and becoming something else. Something new. Nothing stays exactly as it is. Nothing. So what do you do to manage change, which is essentially what an outsourcing transaction is, along with reorganizations, mergers, acquisitions , downsizing, and even joint ventures. They’re all change initiatives.
With regard to change or change management, very few firms seem to truly define the context of their initiatives, in which case you just have change—for the sake of change. And it’s usually an unsettling experience for everyone involved. I’ve seen change handled in two ways. You can carrot and stick people to change, and although this can have a short term impact it doesn’t really define the context or provide structure for long term sustainable change. This is important because changing the behaviour and the tasks performed—ultimately defines performance. But, to create sustainable change, people have to buy-in to the need for change. The issue then becomes, how do you get buy-in?
The importance of this context shapes and defines the need to solve real business problems—business problems that require sustained change in behaviors that lead to performance improvement. At [redacted], this is the key to what we do. Change is good, it’s inevitable, and it happens all the time. Plenty of companies talk about being “experts” in change management, and indeed they are—however, they are primarily focused on process and systems with only minor attention to relationships, people and WHY we need to change behaviour. You need to understand why you need to solve a business problem or meet a business objective—then understand how to make a sustainable change in behaviour. This is the context. This is where you begin to get your buy-in, which, in turn, leads to a performance improvement that you can measure and determine your ROI.
Do people really matter that much? Well, think about it. Everything we do in business is for a human possibility. No matter the industry, the product, or the service. It doesn’t matter if you’re B2B or B2C, the end consumer that we’re all working toward is a human being. If you make widgets, operate a large bank or insurance company, offer IT services, or sell vegetables on the side of the road in a make-shift, lean-to shed—you’re providing something that ultimately lands in the lap of a person. Everything we do in business is for people. We’ve built organizational empires on what people want and also what we think they need. We’re working very hard for our end consumer, but it takes people to help people to make things for people. Everything is always about people. You with me?
So if change in business is more prevalent today then ever before, and everything we do in business we do for people, then in order to solve Outsourcing equations in your organization— to manage the change— you MUST first factor in the Human element. PEOPLE. The human parameter is by far the most critical success factor.
Why is it so critical? Well, the answer to that is also in a constant state of change. Within the last couple of years alone, we’ve seen an explosive growth of social networks and online information communities. According to the CIRA, (The Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Canada is a highly wired society. An early adopter of the Internet and broadband technology, Canada has one of the highest Internet penetration rates in the world. With nearly 8 in 10 Canadians online, the vast majority of those daily users, putting Canada within the top quartile of countries globally to be living in the cloud—so to speak.
That’s not just customers, but employees, partners, suppliers, everyone linked to you and your business. The advent of Social Media has blown away global borders, expanding community reach, market penetration, access to information, and all the while it is strengthening the relationships of people. Social Media is less about technology and more about sociology and psychology. It’s community building. You can watch your favourite reality shows on TV and contribute and interact in real time from your living room with Twitter hash-tags that pop up on the screen. It’s the information age on steroids. You know the expression (thanks to George Orwell’s novel 1984) Big Brother is watching you. Today, not only is Big Brother watching you, but now the expression is more apt to be that Little Brother is watching you too. Meaning your customers, suppliers, partners, and prospects are watching you from mobile screens of all sizes from all over the world. And that may even big a bigger concern. Because, you know, Little Brother can be a snitch.
Social Media has brought with it a customer and community revolution. Consumers have direct, instantaneous access to brands and are now essentially holding the keys to a brand’s reputational kingdom. Online media and news journalism (and I use that last term loosely these days) will sniff out your dirty laundry faster than you ever thought possible. More people than ever receive their news from social media—allowing anyone with a cell phone or computer the power to yell “fire” in every virtually crowded Social networking site they can find. Social media is speed. Information gets sent at the speed of two thumbs and 140 characters. Forget accuracy, that comes later with a public apology that will be swallowed up by the next juicy what-not-to-do business gossip. Long gone are the days of investigative reporters who spend months gathering interviews and research. The reality out there is that you can spend 30, 40, 100 years building up your brand reputation, and in today’s socially connected society, you can lose it all in one unfavourable tweet.
Take Barilla Pasta for example. A month or so ago, Guido Barilla, who controls the fourth-generation Barilla Group family business with his two brothers, sparked outrage with consumers when he eluded to the fact that he would not consider using a gay family to advertise Barilla pasta in an Italian media interview. Within hours, the hashtag ‘boicotta-barilla’ was trending on Twitter. I mean, this was an interview that was happening in a small town in Italy, something that never would have made even the back pages of our biggest newspapers. And this outrage, by later that same day, was right here in our own backyards. Our local grocery stores, even the family-owned independents, right here in Toronto were being pounded with Social Media ultimatums from their customers to remove Barilla from their shelves or lose them as customers for life. This mistake affected not only this business, but also all the reciprocal relationships that they enjoy.
Social Media offers a passionate vehicle to people that lets them say things they might normally not say. A certain amount of anonymity that allows them the freedom to take you to task. It’s kind of like when you’re driving on the highway in your car and some maniac cuts you off. You’re safe in your car bubble and you can flip them off and cuss them out. Not something you would do in person, let’s say if someone cuts in front of you in line. Knowing us Canadians, we would probably apologize in the polite way that we do and be on our way. [Canadian bathroom stall graffiti image]
If you are in the mindset—like many executives are—that think the word “social” indicates a frivolous time-wasting pursuit, like reporting what you ate for lunch or that it’s just the latest thing their teenagers are doing to ignore them at the dinner table—then I encourage you to re-think your mindset. Change has come. To quote Jack Welch here, “Face reality as it is, not as it was, or as you wish it to be.” A social-media presence has become corporate table stakes: 95% of companies expect to invest more in social media and 96% are developing a social-media strategy. That’s a significant amount of business change just from last year alone. With this new global business change, the traditional command-and-control mind-set is an almost certain recipe for disaster. PEOPLE control the Social space, not the businesses. Maximizing the potential of social media requires a real reboot in the mind-set of your company and how it connects with employees, users, customers, and the broader public. The new recipe is dynamic, always-on, sharing-centric and participatory. This same re-boot in mindset needs to be embedded in how you manage your internal community—thinking people first, relationships before bottom line, although the bottom-line will follow. There is a deeper meaning and richer context to the power of social connectedness. And there is a synergy that correlates with how you move through all change in business. I know, we’ve been advocating this change for years. Social Media has just lit a fire under it. But there is also a bigger opportunity to seize competitive advantage and reduce the risk to your business by getting in front of that change.
Why is all of this important to you? Well, the press along with some online media outlets have created a lingering public perception that makes the word “outsourcing” synonymous with corporate irresponsibility. We know that’s not true. Perception is not the reality.
We ALL have a right to manage. In a day and age where the business world seems even more and more competitive, it’s become more important than ever that we exercise that right to manage. If you’re B2B or B2C, your competition is no longer local, it’s global. Social Media has seen to that. You’re also competing with all industries—everywhere—not just your own, for consumer attention. More widespread ramifications of an increasingly connected world. Outsourcing is part of the equation that organizations NEED to maintain a competitive advantage. Healthy competition forces us to stay relevant. Healthy competition gives consumers choices in the marketplace, resulting in higher product quality, services and lower prices. Healthy competition also includes strategies for social responsibility and empowers our people as well as our bottom lines. We are (understandably) focused on headcount, wait times, and bottom-line, and we should be able to do all of this with minimal risk, right? Right. And I believe we can.
Unhealthy competition, on the other hand, comes from an instinct to defend ourselves—whether it be as an individual or an organization—and from a mistaken sense of need to protect our results, intentions, or identity. When this unhealthy competition is internal, that means that your organization lacks alignment. Unhealthy competition is competition for power, for position, for status, and it’s not the kind of competition that helps people perform their best. It’s also a lesson in what not to do online. It’s far better to gain the power of being able to choose when to compete, and when not to compete. That only happens by putting people first—and by adopting healthy, yet competitive strategies.
Now let’s talk social responsibility for a minute. This is not just a global consideration. Of course we want to save the world, but we also need to be socially responsible for our own backyards. Social responsibility is also more than an environmental impact. That definition is also going through change. It has grown to include our connectedness in a new global community. Social Media removed borders, remember? It introduced social networking. We have a social responsibility to our people, AND to the people of the world and ALSO to the soil and skies in which we live. Walt Disney once said “You can’t entertain a family on the one hand and then totally disregard the world and circumstances in which they live.” He had no idea how relevant that statement would become when he said it. Part of building a sustainable world means we don’t have to choose between competition and community. In the context of the outsourcing industry, it’s not an either/or. We can effectively manage both the people and the world we work in – as well as the space in between… which is the circumstances in outsourcing. By taking charge of this, you also get to own your reputation. No small feat according to recent news headlines. How do we do this? It’s simpler than you might think. We need to tear down some traditional power structures and go a little more grassroots.
BODY – Change & Leadership
This new customer revolution has created a challenge for some of our clients. And oddly, people-centric thinking is not new. IBM’s legendary CEO, Tom Watson Jr. was chairman and CEO during IBM’s most explosive period of growth. He led the company from the age of mechanical tabulators and typewriters into the computer era. During his leadership, IBM grew from a medium-sized business to one of the largest industrial corporations in the world. Do you know what he believed? Quoted in 1957, that’s almost 60 years ago, Tom said, “There are many things I would like IBM to be known for, but no matter how big we become, I want this company to be known as the company which has the greatest respect for the individual. We believe in the importance of the individual and we’ll never forget it. We think it’s more important than the most fantastic electronic product that we could ever invent.” No kidding, he said that. Almost 60 years ago. Before most of their fantastic electronic products! He also said “No subject occupies more executive time at IBM than the well-being of their employees and their families.” It doesn’t get much more grassroots than that. It’s no wonder that IBM excels as a thought leader in the digital age.
Jack Welch’s innovative leadership strategies revived a lagging GE, transforming it into a powerhouse with a staggering $300 billion-plus market capitalization. What is his no-nonsense advice? “When you were made a leader you weren’t given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.” And what these successful leaders shared, Tom, Jack and others, were not skills and knowledge but values and attitudes. It’s about putting people first.
So why don’t all leaders put their people first? James Carse, a New York University professor had this idea that all actions in life were either a finite or infinite game. You were in one of two camps. If your organization is finite, you’re in it to win it. Rules and strategies exist to ensure the end game. On the other hand, if your organization is infinite, you’re playing with the goal of continuing the play and sometimes with a purpose of bringing more players into the game. You’re focused on long-term objectives. This is a sort of condensed narration of his philosophies, but there is simple truth in what he’s saying. Most organizations that define our global societies today have been evolved as ‘finite games.’ They are thinking about winning the game, instead of continuing the play and taking care of the players. Which camp do you think your organization falls under?
I understand the trepidation. I really do. Given the public and media perception and resistance of our right to manage, some folks are re-thinking how they’re going to drive the benefit they want to realize in outsourcing & other initiateives, and also have access to talent. It’s good to re-think strategies. And as Steve Jobs would say, it’s time to “Think Different.”
I also understand that dealing with people is often much more uncomfortable than dealing with numbers. It’s easy to count things. But how do you measure and value the human experience? (NOTE: use the exercise of intuition rarely gets funded)
By nature, as humans, we crave established routines and familiarity and we have a fear of the unknown. People react to change in radically different ways. Organizational change can breed uncertainty in your employees about their jobs, their status within the organization, the role they might be asked to assume, the new chain of command, and an entire cluster-mug of other rational and irrational thoughts. Dealing with emotions and behaviours is much harder. I remember an old story about a man who had lost his key on a dark street. He decided to look for his key one street over—where there were more street lamps. Ridiculous, right? Instead of illuminating the dark street, he opted to do what was easier, even knowing he would not get the result he hoped for. Dealing with people can be messy—especially if we are dealing with sensitive, and potentially ill-received conversations.
We know through experience that today’s business strategies, especially outsourcing initiatives, absolutely must be founded in people and the relationships they create and hold. In today’s world, companies grow or fade-away based on their people and the relationships they create. Reputations are just a click away.
With the business world constantly in flux—it’s a constant challenge for all executives to bring their employees along and through these changes. We get that. But it’s imperative to have your employees on-board early on—involving them in the change whenever possible. In order for the change to cause as little disruption to the business as possible, your employees should be prepared for it and not fear the consequences. If they feel their concerns are ignored or mismanaged—they will feel vulnerable, demotivated and the quality of their work may suffer. What leaders do during change initiatives has a significant impact on how employees of both organizations react. Leaders that promote a sense of community and purpose with pro-active support, have committed to the change and have demonstrated openness to the change—inspires openness in employees. It gives them the opportunity to conceptualize change as an opportunity for growth and advancement It’s imperative for performance to put your people ahead of the change itself.
There is generally a lag between the time management discusses organizational changes and the time they are implemented. Although managers like to believe that they are the only ones who know about the upcoming changes, employees usually get wind of them through informal communication. Unfortunately, that informal communication often tends to be negative.
Gossip used to exist at the water cooler, or at the coffee pot. Remember, when we were working our way up in the ranks? There was a great deal of he said, she said, and hey, have you heard…? That water cooler gossip is now happening online. In front of the entire world – 24/ 7! You’ve seen the news. What we know about human beings, is simply that in the absence of good communication, we make it up. We just make it up. These conversations come up because people are uninformed, are feeling uninformed and therefore they connect some invisible dots and voila. That’s what happens. We all do it. Think about it, if you’re involved in something that may or may not be happening but you’re kind of on the outside of the information loop and nobody is really communicating with you, you start believing what you want to believe, right? And, typically, we start believing that it’s going to be worst case scenario. Why? Because that’s what we do. We go there, to the dark places. That’s human behaviour. We tend to go the negative before we go to the positive. That’s why this stuff sells to the media. When was the last time you picked up a daily newspaper and saw some good news on the front page? We’re conditioned that all news is bad news. Underneath it all, we’re conspiracy theorists just waiting to jump up and yell “fire”. The sooner you get employees involved in the change process, the better off everyone will be. A formal communication channel is much more effective than a negative, informal one.
When it comes to communication—communicate often, and communicate early. John Kotter (Professor at Harvard in leadership) published a number of books, and one of his books on leadership deals with something called the 10x Communication Factor. This means that you need to say it…, say it again…, say it one more time…, and just when you think you’ve said it enough… say it 7 more times. Repetition drives the message home. When we’re clearly communicated with, in an ongoing and consistent basis, we feel empowered and part of the process, then it’s no longer about the gossip at the water cooler because we’re informed, better informed, and it’s not just about communication, it’s about what we’re going to do as an organization and it also introduces the currency of trust.
Simon Sinek is a visionary thinker, author, and member of RAND – one of the most highly regarded think tanks in the world. He believes that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” And we agree with him 100%.
If you stand for people care, the yours and ours of an organization, then your people and customers will buy in. I keep saying it’s simple, but it really is. Be as honest and transparent as you can be, and communicate often and early. Tell them the whole story, or as best you can, as honestly as you can. When we have no control of our own fate, there is a tendency to have feelings of anger, fear and distrust rather than emotions that are more positive. By getting ahead of the change, you open the channels of communication and eliminate the uncertainty. It’s also as equally important for you to be visible during this time of change. Give key messages to your employees face-to-face, and stand beside them during valuable workshops. Give your people the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. Make sure this isn’t just a cosmetic exercise. In return they will feel respected, appreciated—and will buy-in to the change faster. Be respectful, be sensitive, treat them fairly and with dignity. Essentially, be human.
We all know that the business case for outsourcing or off-shoring is sound—by being smart and using talent in a smart way any business can transform itself from a business that struggles to stay competitive into a business that can be truly globally competitive. The human side of outsourcing involves ALL people involved in the transaction, as well as the how, the when, and the what of that story. Communication is the glue that binds people together. Domestically, we have the same social responsibility and ability to provide opportunity for those affected right here at home. We have a real opportunity here to look at that differently. Perspective is everything.
Help your employees see change as an opportunity, rather than a threat. If you’re not providing the necessary resources to your people—especially your leaders—then you will not create the most advantageous environment for having buy-in to any change project. You are risking turnover of key personnel, the loss of business objectives, as well as versatility, visibility and resilience in the marketplace. Help your PEOPLE by investing in the RELATIONSHIPS. Don’t just tell them you value and respect them—show them.
Communication is definitely one of the important things that knits your organization together. Good communication helps builds strong relationships. [triangle slide]
Strongly held Point of View…. relationships always drive business results!
Instead of thinking performance OR people, we should be thinking performance THROUGH people.
Take a look at this simple slide for a moment.
- What is culture? High performance cultures are characterized by resilience and responsiveness to change, and, as a result, produce superior financial and non-financial results.
- There is an old saying that “Culture drives behaviour, but behaviour forms the culture.” Its a bit of a chicken and an egg,
- An example of this came out of Xerox
- Another example is our own research in 2001 in cooperation with Sears
- And inventory shrinkage correlation – so intuitively the more motivated and engaged your employees are, the less they’ll rip you off. (Or beak off about you online for the press to pick up.)
Put that into the context of outsourcing, if you help people to understand how to be more resilient to a changing world, communicate with them early and often, and conduct workforce planning by using assessment tools, career planning tools, etc at the early stage of outsourcing initiatives you can more effectively re-train, re-educate and re-deploy your affected employees.
The early stage bit is huge! Proactively providing resources will encourage the trust of your leaders and can help you minimize unproductive time spent adapting to the change. It will be instrumental in how your leaders affect that change throughout their teams and outward to the client experience.
This key focus on relationships is a big commitment. It means that our conversations have to be higher level and working with decision makers as opposed to people whose self-interest is overriding what’s best for the enterprise. Are you finite or are you are infinite? Putting your people ahead of the change requires more leadership—but it’s a chance for you to grow in the eyes of your employees. If you earn more respect, it will increase their motivation to work for you. It also means assessing relationships and measuring for organizational alignment between the buyer and seller of outsourcing services, which can be a critical success factor to any outsourcing transaction. For example, has anyone here ever conducted cultural due diligence to assess the fit of employees between the buyer and seller of outsourcing services?
It’s not about just having the right people. Top performers individually, might not always work well together. Leaders are realizing that optimizing their teams for maximum performance can take them to the next level. Teams work better when they understand accountability and have everyone aligned against common goals. They need to understand what is expected of them. Team assessments and team coaching together with a clear foundation are a few of the tactics that have proven to increase team effectiveness on how to communicate and engage in a change process very positively.
Anthropologists and experts in organizational behavior use the concept of “culture” to describe how members of groups understand their world and their place in it. It is difficult to argue against the notion that “culture” is a prominent and fundamental consideration when combining organizations. The greater the frequency and magnitude of change—the more important leadership and culture become. Successful outsourcing integration demands significant change on the part of both the buying and the selling organization—it is not about acculturation—but rather the creation of a new combined culture.
This alignment within your respective businesses has a direct and indirect influence on your collective bottom lines and the competitive advantage you’re trying to create through outsourcing. Alignment within your businesses should be structured, systemic, and organic. An assurance of continued alignment throughout the lifecycle of the change process, plus contingencies to detect and remediate alignment issues before, during, and after change occurs is paramount to the integration of new expectations between long-standing relationships, as well as new relationships. Brand and culture go hand-in-hand. When you invest in your teams, you’re helping your employees to help themselves. You’re improving retention and maintaining your intellectual capital. An alignment of the customer experience between buyer and seller is critical to ensuring a continued high performance culture and delivering on the brand experience. Get it wrong, and you will fail, in epic ways.
JC Penney is the most recent example of change gone wrong. I’m sure you may have heard about ex-Apple retail chief, Ron Johnson, who came as the new CEO with big plans to revolutionize the retailer the same way he’d done at Apple. I mean, here’s a guy whose work you previously admired for revolutionizing both the technology and department store (Target) but then things took a terrible turn. What happened? A lot of things, but most notably, he failed to get employees on board with his plan for change. He didn’t adequately understand the culture. He misread the play. It was a failure so epic that experts and critics now question whether the 111-year-old retail chain will survive at all. This isn’t rocket science.
The people in our organizations do not make up one homogenous group. There is diversity. Different education levels, generation gaps, and cultural implications. Some folks will be more resilient than others. I remember this one time that I delivered the news of downsize to a man and his shock was palpable. I sat in the room across from him for 4 hours. He said nothing—just stared at the ceiling. When he was ready, we talked about his options and opportunities. The point is, not everyone is going to respond well. But if you treat people as people first, you know? And you treat them with dignity, you talk to them, you communicate with them, you provide them with alternatives, then people will respond the way you want them to respond. More times than not. 100%? No. But that’s what makes us human. Overall, we’ll all respond in the way with which we’d like to be treated. It’s almost that simple. And that can be harnessed, that can be channelled and used in a very efficient and effective way to help you exercise your right to manage.
When engaging impacted employees, the key to successful outcomes is to work in an ‘early stage’ mindset. When you’re looking at downsizing or outsourcing or whatever reason jobs may be affected, implement tools and strategies to help facilitate the process to redeploy these people as much as possible in other parts of the organization. And if not internally, then look at where there might be opportunity to consider re-training programs, having people go back to school, or job placement in other organizations. The bottom line is, these folks get redeployed. You help them to land on their feet. They feel valued, respected, and they know the reasons behind it. People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it. That can be an incredible win for the organization. And lets not forget the keepers. Those employees who you are counting on to continue with the good work of your company. To be productive. To continue to be part of your customer segment, as shareholders, as employees. Doing it right isn’t about being nice guys, it’s about running your organization with a view to maximize shareholder value.
A client of ours in the Canadian financial industry completed a major acquisition of a U.S. financial institution in a four-billion dollar deal a couple of years ago. They recognized the need for counsel with addressing change in a positive and proactive way—and brought us onboard to help plan and execute the session to ready and optimize both organizations for known change. In an international acquisition, merging two teams of thousands of people—bringing national and geographical cultures together—readying and optimizing teams in advance is the proactive change management approach that keeps your PEOPLE high performing in order to meet your post-merger financial projections. In this project, we focused on the cultural fit factor, organizing large workshops to help ready and optimize employees on multiple levels using positive strategies to help ease the implementation. We helped them understand what they were about to experience and gave them positive strategies to cope and move forward with the significant change. In just a short time, we witnessed the early successes on both an organizational and individual level—confirming that this bank stepped-up to the “change challenge” by providing the resources necessary to appropriately identify and proactively address the needs of their PEOPLE. A successful implementation and their expected return on financial projections are on the horizon.
This proactive approach was focused—rather than a widespread reactionary implementation that required a massive leap of faith from employees. For managers and other strategic decision-makers faced with the task of keeping their talent management initiatives moving forward during acquisition transitions—this is real, down-to-earth tangible success advice. We worked with a smart company, who were paying attention to their changing landscape with a PEOPLE-centric focus. The companies that demonstrate this through action are the ones who have been able to engage people more quickly and shorten the productivity slump that is inevitable when dealing with change . The bank’s employee feedback, has been positive and generous. The said they felt appreciated, connected, and respected by executives. They also felt that the timing of the resources was perfect, and they were encouraged with the tools to help them recognize some latent reactions to change—some that they were just going in to—and they were able to listen and interact with each other, providing unparalleled appreciation for the unique “I” experiences happening around them.
I said earlier we need to think different. There’s one more thing I want to touch upon – risk mitigation. Being cognizant of Social Media, our Social Responsibility, good communication, managing culture change, providing tools and know how, and all the other things that we’ve talked about today, risk mitigation is not just about media and PR, it’s also about lost capability and institutional know-how—the corporate memory. There are a lot of different permeations for outsourcing but here’s just one illustration, for example, one situation that often develops in organizations is that, if I’m running one division and you’re running another division and I’m downsizing because I’m moving 30 jobs off-shore and now I’ve got 30 excess people… the prevailing thought process is, “if I’m not keeping them, why would you want them, right?” This is where human nature overrides common sense. There are a whole variety of reasons that we don’t stand back from it and look at it to say, now what do we do to retain the corporate memory and institutional know-how that these 30 some odd people have of our company and help to reduce some risk? I mean that’s going back to a line of unhealthy competition, that’s a finite game. We at least as an organization need to take it up another level and take a look at what’s in the best interest of our company from a brand point of view, from the standpoint of social responsibility in our own backyard.
We’ve got to think different. Outcomes of thinking and acting differently can include, reduced recruitment and severance costs, reduced unwanted employee turnover, increases in employee engagement, and heightened ability for you to execute your business strategy without constraints. All very important outcomes. The outcomes we all want to realize.
I didn’t always realize these things believe me, but over time and over the course of my career and dealing with clients who also have many clients from various walks of life, this approach has been confirmed time over time over time. The greatest successes are achieved in collaboration. And with change being a big part of the competitive reality in business, it just makes sense to incorporate change strategies into the way you make decisions. Bucky Fuller famously said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Sage advice for us all. John Kotter recognized that the world is changing. That we must do things differently. People and relationships (in the form of community) is the future. Yours, mine, and ours. We don’t have the luxury of waiting for early adopters when dealing with people’s livelihood in today’s accelerated media connections. The only way to inoculate the outsourcing process for risk and recondition the public perception is to first factor in the human element. NOW. The people side. What’s in it for them is what’s in it for you.
Our experiences of how things have worked in the past, both good and bad, prevent us from understanding how things can be different. Past failures (ours and those we read about) are holding us down. Few, if any, recognize the emotional tax paid by our most important assets, our human colleagues. This emotional tax costs us much more then lost dollars, it’s the loss of time, capabilities, company know-how and unrealized opportunities which are often accepted as a cost of doing business.
By being more connected and transparent, we increase the flow of information inside and across the organization. By being more authentic and empathetic, we can increase trust with our peers and our customers. Providing the resources to your teams in an outsourcing initiative is as necessary to your business as the outsourcing initiative itself. This is not a management fad or a courtesy—it’s a necessity of equal respect. Investing in your teams provides the reciprocal performance impact that will determine your business success. If you’re not putting people first every single day that you hang out your shingle for business, you’re putting your organization at risk. Full stop. All of the great leaders and great thinkers who have come before us and led their organizations through great change, did so from the inside-out. They knew that the only way to create sustainable change was to be people-centric and relationship-centric.
Optimizing the ability of your PEOPLE to perform by aligning resources for change-readiness will set the tone and support for your entire initiative. Readying your PEOPLE will build positive esprit and teamwork—instead of eroding it. All it takes is one company in the industry to get it right—and that company will take all the profit. Why accept the status quo when you can be that company?