What’s good for the goose…

All of the research we read on manage
ment and leadership says one of the key attributes of leader is that he or she sets an example. Followers should never say that “it’s do as I say and not do as I do” work environment.
I doubt whether any of us in management would disagree with this statement. One of the places where setting an example goes out the window and annihilates credibility is in the area of remuneration, and especially pay increases.
Over the last10 years we’ve seen substantial slowdown on pay increases for rank and file, probably attributable to low inflation and global competition. However as the rank gets higher and the file gets opened, we see all sorts of amazing happenings. Can leader of an organisation realistically say to team members that the organisation can’t afford to give an increase but blatantly walk away with big hike through bonuses, stock options or similar incentives for themselves?
I have heard many of the arguments. “what about the responsibility of the leader and the job that he or she is doing?” “Surely they are entitled to be paid for it.” Nobody denies that, but they are getting very well paid for it already.
Where it seems to go wrong to me is that those appointing chief executives are sending mixed messages. They say the organisation is there for the long-haul, yet chief executive is often appointed on short term contract and given an attractive salary and incentives to make the organisation more profitable, (or in not-for-profit organisation, less costly). This in itself seems in conflict with the long-term goal.
Let’s look at what happens. The new CEO won’t be able to generate enough new business to have really positive effect on the bottom line, especially in the short term. The only option is to cut costs and in most organisations, especially non-profit ones, the biggest cost is staff. So out comes the knife and staff numbers are slashed, profitability increases in the short term and the share price goes up.
Those that aren’t slashed are running scared and accept the message from on high that there’s no money for pay increases. At the same time it gets out the CEO responsible for the slash and burn tactics has had 20 percent bonus and 10 percent increase in pay and share options which they can quickly cash up at the improved share price.
What does all this do for the morale of people who make the show go? What does it do for the organisation long-term? Almost inevitably, the slash and burn tactics come unstuck and there’s whole lot of work to be done to put the organisation in functioning order again. In the meantime the customers have suffered and staff morale suffers. Buying back the goodwill of staff and customers doesn’t happen overnight and certainly not as rapidly as you got rid of it.
If an organisation has had good year through increasing income or reducing costs then at the very least, everyone is entitled to receive part of the action, not just at the top.
So what’s the answer in dealing with this particular situation? I wonder if it’s not too radical for our organisations to have policies that simply state that all management receive no greater pay increase than the average of everyone else down the line and then only if they deserve it. This means some very specific key performance indicators would need to be formulated or the whole thing would simply become subjective.
I don’t feel that any of us in CEO positions can push this one under the carpet. We keep talking about teamwork in organisations. Yet we give rewards to our CEOs which will inevitably have negative effect on the key to our success Ñ teams. It seems old fashioned but the “doing unto others” and “you can’t have your cake and eat it” values that have successfully driven our organisations in the past transcend all time. We forget it at our peril.

Computers – You ain’t seen nothing yet
We are about to be hit by huge revolution in technology.
The revolution has come about through the sophistication of the silicon chip but will have bigger initial effect than the chip itself had. What’s more, the technology is with us right now but its creeping revolution has perhaps made us overlook the revolution it will cause, especially to our business lives. I’m talking about voice recognition computer software and all its implications to the future of our organisations.
I don’t believe it will be long before we see the end to keyboards on computers. Instructions and transactions will be made primarily by voice. This will be assisted by the mouse, which I believe will go as well, although it will take little longer.
Voice recognition has been with us for long time but has only in recent time reached sophistication that makes it ready to revolutionise the way we do things. When you think about it, most technological changes recently have come quickly and we’ve had to react just as quickly. Voice recognition is bit different because it’s been around about 10 years and we’ve overlooked the slow progress it’s made.
What will it mean for us? Firstly, there will be real focus on sound oral communication. If we now use the computer to type our correspondence, we must get skilled up to talk it in because that’s where it will be at and it will be lot quicker and more efficient. At the moment the technology still has trouble identifying voices and you need to train the computer. I see that problem going quite quickly. So we’ll either talk our letters, emails, faxes, etc, straight into the computer and see themcome up on the screen or we’ll have the traditional dictaphone type arrangement where we do it at our leisure and download when it suits us. The corrections and adjustments will also be done by voice instruction.
When you think about it, there are huge implications and opportunities with this. Essentially, it’ll do away with people dedicated to typing correspondence because that will no longer be efficient. I’ve always been concerned with how inefficient our current method of processing correspondence is. In the most crude form some of us still write it out longhand then get it typed. Some of us type it ourselves on the computer or get dedicated person to do the typing. Surely this is crazy when you consider the alternative of just speaking into computer and having it come up on the screen all typed.
The key to maximising the efficiency will be in having skills to speak well, quickly and with brevity. It’s almost the return of the dictaphone skills.
It seems ironical to me that for years we’ve been saying that technology has taken away the art of good verbal communication. Well now it’s going to bring it back. I can already hear the cry in organisations to those who drag their feet embracing new technology. “You better hurry up and get skilled in this speaking stuff because the keyboards are going next year.”
Further down the track I think the mouse will become redundant. In the immediate future we’ll use the mouse to bring up files and make adjustments, but there will be time when that also will be done through spoken instruction. The move after this will probably be the message coming out the other end in sound as well as written.
I feel excited about the opportunities offered from the way this technology is heading. I also feel voice recognition will make things more efficient and effective.
I also see this in the long term as having huge opportunities for bringing equality to the world. That sounds extravagant but one of the greatest problems in the world is lack of education, mainly because the majority of people on earth can’t read or write. Through this technology they won’t have to. All data will be available in the spoken word and translated into whatever language you wish through computers at very low cost. This means you won’t be giving people in these countries books, pens and the whole laborious thing of them learning to read and write.

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