Killing our Companies and Indusrty Softly.
Probably dating myself with that title. Kinda ripping off Roberta Flack’s song, “Killing Me Softly (with this song)”.
There is no one I incident that is compelling me to write this (outside of the fact that once again I am at 35,000 feet with an iPad, Bose Headphones, awesome tunes, and 4 hours to kill). Maybe it was in the passing of Steve Jobs and the admiration I had for him as a business visionary, and the fact that I struggle to find someone new to replace him with, for me to aspire to be like.
Maybe there are way too many incidents that are assisting the writing of this one. It seems to be a mood or attitude, that is so prevalent within the industry at this time. I am not too sure how to pinpoint it. Is is indifference? Is it complacency? Is it fear? Is it inexperience? Is it lack of vision? Is it all of the above wrapped up in a beautiful package that will spell out the impending failure and doom for many companies.
I sit through so many meetings with companies and their representatives and I do wonder how long can they go on with the approach to business they have. I read so many articles in trade mags and business mags and it matches what I see. The overpowering stench of fear; fear employees have with respect to standing up and out, to challenge respectfully those within their own companies who they feel may not be going in the right direction. The fear of retributions if they choose to suggest not conforming to what everyone else wants. The fear to ask a question that may “offend” someone’s ego. The move to be a “yes person” seems to be more the norm than ever. Have we lost our nerve and guts to stand up for what we feel is right or stand up and say what we feel is wrong. Do we just follow blindly?
Maybe it’s because times are tougher than they have ever been, especially for my generartion, and I am pretty sure tougher than what has been seem by the generation ahead of me, and the one behind me for sure. Has job “insecurity” become so ominous that we have decided to stop asking questions that may challenge anyone and anything; we are just not going to cause any waves. No rocking the boat here. No matter how much we know, or don’t know, best to sit back and shut up rather than pitch in and speak up and have an opinion or admitt that we need clarification on what the idea was. Make sure we dont change things, unless you know for sure the change will work or will be accepted by all; like that situation ever presents itself in the real world. Life is a gamble, when is anything a real sure bet, outside of death and taxes.
Is that we have just done such a great job in North America of downsizing companies. We have been stellar at shipping out our manufacturing and ingenuity, anywhere, as long as it was not here We have treated “human capital” as if it were just that, some number on a income statement. We have tried, and succeeded in, getting long term employees out of our systems as quickly as possible because experience “costs” us too much. We all do more with less. Less hours in a day without interruptions, less people to help out, less people to learn from, less qualified people in the right spots and so on. Have we cut so much fat out of the system that we are now cutting into bone? Does any of the above ring true?
Is it the fact that many just don’t stay with anything long enough to really own anything, or really become experts in their jobs and duties. Is it more important to churn through employees as quickly as possible to keep costs in check? Is more important to churn through tasks and projects as quickly as possible in order to maintain the perception of businsess? Better to get it at least sorta right with sorta the right people?
In our company, at 21 years of employment with LD, I am not the anomaly, I am the norm. Most of us in the merchandising, accounting and distribution centre have been around for 20,30, and 40 years!! Many of our senior store management are also in the same years of employment as me. Maybe London Drugs is just an oddball in the world of business and its employess as odd as the company itself… 🙂 Maybe that this is indicative of my generation (I am not convinced of that, I think LD and a handful of other companies, just seem to have an amazing ability to make it possible to have people want to stay as long as we do), but what about the one behind us and the one behind them? Is 21 years in one place going to be a reality? Will 21 years of just employment be a reality! Is employment and job security a “treat” and something that is a memory of days gone by?
We have taught ourselves, and are teaching our peers, our families, and anyone around us, that it is better not to take on any responsibilities and just float through. If you do close to nothing, nothing is really your fault. Your have no responsibilities, therefore you are for sure not accountable for failures or any issues around you. How could you be, you haven’t done anything!
Pretty heavy s$&t goes through your head when you sit in an aluminum can at 7 miles above sea level!!
What do we do? How do we change things? Do we have what it takes to change things?
Seriuosly, I don’t know. I am pretty sure no one really knows. The only thing I know, is that I can work on me and my attitude, and I can work on what I can control and/or influence at work and at home.
If I speak from the industry that I participate in, as an active player in the retail and CPG world, then there are things that I can do that can and will change things.
For example, I can have a positive or negative effect on people’s health and the environments’ health in the product selections that I make. I can try and list products the maybe have a little less packaging or processing involved in their creation. Realizing the they may not be the best sellers at the beginning, remembering that I work for profits and I do work for consumers that want certain products; but I can at least offer choices maybe next to the market leaders so as to offer some variety and selection. Small step granted, but a step nonetheless. Some will work and many will fail, but at least you try…
I can have a positive or negative effect on collegues a collegues personal or professional development, based on my interactions with them. Do I act as a dictator when it comes to my categories, or do I include ideas from, other buyers, assistants, stores etc…when I consider directional changes within areas of my responsibilities: and if I do, do I respectfully acknowledge contributions, whether I use them or not. The final decision will be mine, as I am responsible and accountable for my actions and for the profitability, or lack thereof, of my categories, but can I allow my ego to move over at times to allow others some input. And if things go well, can I make sure that I share the accalaids, while sheilding the blame if things go sideways as I must remember that the final decision was mine and therefore I own that outcome. It may take a little more time and it kinda sucks to make mistakes and own them, but are the rewards there? I think so…
Those 2 small examples is what I see lacking in many businesses that I come in contact with. I truly feel that this is a huge problem in our industry and changes need to come about for the long term viability of many companies.
We have to get back to owning and being responsible and accountable for our actions and decisions and we have to try and make change happen, no matter how hard the change is. We have speak up and be heard, we can not be cut down for an opinion that is different; fear for that kind of reprisal will never allow for change to happen. be respectful and follow the decisions that are made, but never follow blindly and without having aired your concerns and thoughts.
All easy when you are just writing a blog post. I know. But hopefully where I can inspire, is by practicing what I preach and doing my best to provoke change and to make a difference, by changing the way I interact with product and people. By staying true to me without disrespecting others. It’s up to me.
How will you inspire and make a difference?
Ciao for now @kootenayborn