Market Pulse July 2015 – Comments from CDL’s General Manager Operations

Clouds gathering over NZ economy, Greek economy set to implode, another New Zealand business announces jobs are on the line and the Global Economic Recession continues to plague and harass society as we know it. These are daily headlines reported throughout New Zealand Media.  Is it tough out there? You bet. New Zealanders continue to ride the waves of the Global Economic Recession, and for many countries, the New Zealand economy continues to be the envy of the world.  Yes we’re a clean, green, and exciting place to live and work, however, when people ask me what it’s really like out there at the coal face of business, I have to say, it’s bloody tough and it will get tougher.

Every day in the press we read articles about skills shortages, the challenges of cultural and generational diversity, the looming tsunami of an aging workforce, the introduction of new Health and Safety regulations, fast and aggressive growth in technology, business growth, business restructuring…the list goes on.

Thinking about the conversations I have had recently, the hot topics that stand out are:

Managing the Pace of Change

Driven by market forces and/or the impact of technology, the pace of change is a real and burning issue for businesses. A recent press release suggested that advances in technology and automation in business / manufacturing will result in the loss of 5 million jobs in Australia by 2030. The impact of technology on the future of work, how, when, where and who, will be significant. Pressure and stress are directly related to pace of change, and pressure and stress have a major impact on business performance. Technological advances are inevitable. Smart businesses also future proof themselves by investing in their people, thereby building the resilience and enabling them to deal with change in a positive and exciting way.

Lack of Leadership / Management Skills

I have so many conversations on this topic. How many times have you heard the story of highly technically and operationally competent people being rewarded through promotion to a people management role who simply cannot cope because they are suddenly out of their depth? People leave their manager, not the business. Poor management and leadership can cause immense damage to a business. The cost of turnover and replacement of people who leave the business through lack of effective management and development opportunity is massive. Smart businesses take control and make sure they have a comprehensive professional management and leadership development policy in place to retain and develop their key people.

Attracting and Retaining Talent

Another hot topic is how to make your business a ‘talent magnet’. The answer seems straight forward – give your key talent a reason to stay and use your retention and development policy as a promotional tactic to build your brand and reputation in a tight, highly competitive skills-short market that will attract the people you need to achieve future success.

Organisational Change, Restructure and Redundancy

Unfortunately in today’s dynamic market, change, restructure and redundancy is commonplace. Long gone are the days of a ‘job for life’. As we all know, people may change careers and jobs 5 or 6 times during their working life. Every time a person faces redundancy, whether or not it’s happened to them before, it is a painful and exhaustive experience. Smart business operators successfully manage change through clear communication, due consultation, supporting everybody impacted by change, casualties and survivors alike. Be aware, this is when businesses are most at risk because business brand and management reputation is at stake. Manage change professionally and your business brand and personal reputation in your market is maintained and respected. Manage change poorly, and you could face the wrath of social media, lost sales and brand reputation being dragged through the mud. Investment in change and outplacement is as important as investing in retention and development.

But hold the press, not all is doom and gloom. What we see at CDL is a dynamic and challenging market. Yes the Global Economic Recession continues to bite hard, however, businesses that take control, look to the future, plan and invest wisely in their people are the businesses that will be around tomorrow.

Change is a continuum, nothing stays the same for long, without change we stagnate. Change brings opportunity, however, whatever your business and people challenges are, once business brand, reputation and integrity is lost due to the perceptions that change, whatever it is that was managed poorly, it will take major and exhaustive investment to re-build.

Smart businesses future proof themselves, not just by investing in technology that enhances business systems, process and productivity; they invest in their people too.

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