A STATE OF AWARENESS

state-awarenessThroughout 2013 I was fortunate to be able to interview a wide range of Australian business managers. I wanted to test theories I held regarding certain awareness levels amongst managers within companies and the potential effect on bottom line returns. The results were rather interesting and if I may would like to give you a brief summary of my findings.

Changes in technology have given us the opportunity to access multiple channels to gain information, furthermore it can be said with certainty this trend will continue in the coming years and we can expect a constant flow of new methods of communication and data exchange.

Given the fact we are the recipients of such a largesse of resources the object of my research was to ascertain if Australian managers are today better equipped to handle the challenges of modern day business. Are they in a position of strength to understand the factors which may influence the future of their industry or profession and what essential skills are required for them to achieve a high standard of management expertise.

One of the criticisms levelled at the stream of knowledge being dispensed is a great deal of material available is based on opinion and not fact and that respective managers have to make judgements of perhaps information that could be considered misleading or even false. Coupled with increasing time constraints their ability to check the authenticity of such data is continually being eroded.

A key question is “Can we filter this perpetual avalanche of information and convert it into meaningful tools to give a competitive advantage in our businesses”? In my interviews I looked at four “filters” that we use when making a business decision- our awareness of ourselves, of our colleagues (especially those senior to us), our awareness of our clients and awareness of the economic climate.

ECONOMIC AWARENESS

In our rapidly evolving environment it is essential that managers have a basic awareness of the economic conditions being played out domestically and globally that may have an impact today and tomorrow on their respective businesses. Having spoken with and interviewed many managers; I can reveal that the understanding and interpretations of such factors and conditions is generally poor and has a low priority on the scale of their consciousness. Whilst is was generally acknowledged that knowledge/information would give them a valuable perspective, a common theme they were under such pressure to complete their existing tasks and felt they did not have the time to keep up to date and further their knowledge.

From the study it was evident that that there had been limited focus on raising awareness levels rather an emphasis was placed on purely leadership training. Participants expressed a desire to receive further education to improve their respective skills.

CUSTOMER AWARENESS

It is vitally important that all organisations constantly review their respective strategies with regard to attracting new clients and at the same time to retain existing relationships. Managers were asked the question “How do you think the customers/clients’ needs have changed in the last five years”? Responses received from the professions such as accountants, lawyers exposed a worrying lack of understanding of the major structural changes which are occurring such as overseas outsourcing which will affect their sectors in the coming years ( replies to questions regarding outsourcing were vague). In particular the lack of attention to developing new added value services for clients especially in the area of strengthening relationships with clients.

SELF-ACTUALISATION BEHAVIOURAL AWARENESS

In a surprising finding interviewees claimed they had received little or no training in how to achieve a good level of self-actualisation (engagement, motivation and knowing self). In our modern dynamic environment this is worrying because this is one tool that can catapult performance in an organisation to much higher levels and help to broaden the skill base of employees! The ability to identify how one’s own behaviours could be improved was widely discussed and provoked deep consideration, this also involved the topic of self -motivation which seems to reflect a common theme amongst managers who seem to struggle to achieve a stable level of commitment to their work. (Almost 50% of people referred to this issue and seek further guidance). All managers discussed the methods they used to raise their respective motivation also of their team/staff.

MANAGING UP AWARENESS

One of the biggest challenges facing businesses appears to be the ability of younger managers to relate to their senior colleagues and bosses. This is of course due, in a major part, to the different approaches and styles of the generations. The situation is highly likely to continue until 2023 when the last of the baby boomers can be expected to leave the workplace. Younger managers expressed a high level of discontent in that there are limited opportunities to contribute their views, and this was seen as a major impediment to development and continuation of their future relationship (employment) with the organisation.

CONCLUSIONS

I have selected several key findings from the research:

  1. The level of awareness in an organisation of these four areas can be very variable and is highly dependent on a progressive culture and strong communication being present.
  2. Opposition to improving knowledge of these areas could come from senior management that could perceive time constraints and no discernable positive effect on the bottom line.
  3. Managers thought that relationships internally and externally could be enhanced by implementing programs to increase knowledge of these areas. It could give them tools to communicate to staff on key matters regarding company challenges and aspirations.
  4. A significant number of interviewees felt that involvement in their company’s strategic planning process had become laborious and painful and the outcomes described as “not very imaginative”. By perhaps holding sessions on topics of economic matters that could affect their organisation could be a good precursor to formulating a realistic strategic plan.
  5. There was a strong correlation in views that efficiency and better returns could be achieved if the right education program was implemented.

I must point out I do not claim the research conducted to be the definitive view on the above issues but I am of the firm belief that we need to look beyond current thinking and to break what could be considered as a state of inertia to resolve what are rather difficult on-going problems.

My overall assessment from this study suggest there is concrete evidence that by improving awareness levels within an organisation can lead to increased performance and returns. I am confident that if we make a solid commitment to place the correct tools in the hands of our managers that they can get the job done!

Ken Wood

Banyan Management Services Pty Ltd

2nd April 2014

Who is Ken Wood?

Ken operates as a Business interventionist, and has over thirty years plus experience as an international corporate trouble- shooter, and educator visiting and working in over thirty countries .He regularly commentates and presents on company culture, domestic international business…

http://www.kenwoodspeaking.com.au/about/

During the course of 2013, I conducted 50 interviews each of 45 minutes duration with people/staff/managers/employees working in middle management and higher levels in a range of Australian businesses.

If you would like to receive more information on the study please contact me at ken.wood@banyansa.com.au or call me on 0408811799