EDITOR’S LETTER Power to the people

Piecing together the bad news over the past few months hasn’t been hard. Air New Zealand, Carter Holt Harvey, Fonterra, Goodman Fielder’s Retail New Zealand group and New Zealand Post have all signalled possible redundancies or “early departures” among their staff – many expected to target their senior managers. Add to that “mother of all reviews” of the swollen ranks of public sector managers and series of weak economic indicators.
So what should managers expect for 2006? What, we wanted to know, could be the consequences of eradicating more management jobs? Many business commentators look at Graeme Hart and the example he sets with trimming operations to the bone. But is that the right example to follow and, once booted out, where do these people go in their search for meaningful career in management? Should we expect another exodus overseas, into business on their own or the creation of new slew of management consultancies?
Is this another big shift in organisational structures? We saw similar round of cost cutting and trimming decade ago: what were the consequences for our nation’s senior managers then and what will they be now?
Armed with these, and other questions, senior writer Graeme Hunt bailed up managers, consultants and commentators to piece together more accurate picture of what is now happening in New Zealand’s big businesses and what is likely to be the shape of things to come. His findings form this month’s cover story “Is your job safe?” starting on page 24 of this issue.
One of the insights he gleaned was warning to be wary of hiring change managers simply because they have record of shaking things up. It’s trap that many companies fell into during the troubled economic times of 1989-91, the worst years following the 1987 sharemarket crash.
Real challenges this year, says Hunt, will include how to use downtime to mentor, train and upskill managers. In other words: focusing on people remains as important as ever, if not more so.
If that’s the case, then Andrew Stone, the much-lauded CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand is already getting lot of things right. In his interview with writer Zirk van den Berg this month he talks about how much of the agency’s recent improvements stem from his staff. See page 32.
And if you want to get to grips with smart ways to work with New Zealand’s growing number of business coaches, turn to page 40 where Iain McCormick provides practical advice on how to get the most from your coach.
Finally, when you’ve finished reading this month’s issue of Management magazine, flip it over and check out sister publication The Director.

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