Edition 313 – Cultural Identity

It’s all through the news – “We can’t find staff”.
Business owners I’m meeting, talking and working with are saying it – “There’s just no one around”.

Unemployment in Australia is down to 4%, an incredible number when you consider what it looked like almost two years ago with the onset of the COVID crisis. Remember the lines of people outside Centrelink offices around the country?

The media is taking the typically sensationalist headline approach when it rolls these stories out and there is no doubt that there are businesses right now that simply can’t find staff. However, it’s what I’m observing, not what I’m hearing, that has cause for concern.

Here’s some of what I’ve seen happen in recent months inside businesses, which really is a window into the world of the culture in some businesses:

  1. Businesses flogging their staff almost to death in terms of hours worked. I get that overtime might be required to catch up any backlog from last year, however beyond 50 hours per week, you’re experiencing an example of the law of diminishing returns.
  2. Systems that are non-existent, which means each day is merely chaos.
  3. Systems that are existent, but not reinforced through regular training. I don’t care if your staff have been shown how to do it previously. Most people look for shortcuts and if your business can’t do shortcuts, keep reiterating the correct way. It’s why McDonald’s has equipment that “beeps” all the time!
  4. Owners and managers that are non-existent on the ground. If your staff can’t see you, who’s leading them?
  5. A simple lack of “please” and “thank you” from the top tier to their people. I’m sure some people in business were never taught this as a young child, for it sure as hell permeates their character once they’ve grown up. Three words – two terms – both incredibly powerful.
  6. Not engaging the team in any time out, at all! We’ve all lived a rollercoaster existence the past two years. What have you done to reward your team for what they have achieved, rather than what they’ve missed?
  7. A complete lack of investment in the training and development of your people. If you’re not growing them, they’ll find another garden plot with more fertiliser and greater TLC.
  8. An absence of the understanding that, as an owner or manager in the business, you’re their mentor – someone for them to look up to. You’re a significant part of their life, yet most of you fail to understand the huge importance of your roles. If you remember your own bosses, good or bad over the years, remember, your staff do as well.
  9. Not throwing the arm of family around your people. Plenty of individuals have done it tough through this period. Some have lost family, if not to COVID, merely to whatever ailment inflicted them. Kind words, compassion and understanding go a long way to showing people that you care – and may be the biggest return on investment you’ll ever achieve.

This is not the 1830’s where we sent children down the coal mines and the top occupational health and safety measure was the life or death of a canary. This is the 2020’s. So, for a moment, stand outside your business, look through the front door and objectively assess what you’re doing to treat your people as people, not merely a resource.

This Week’s Tip


 “Dealing with people is the hardest part of running any business.
However, unless your operations can be fully automated,
you’re simply going to have to get better at the people part! “

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