Employee Empowerment Lead to Profits
This week I had the opportunity to attend The Economist conference on human potential and developing ideas that matter to both society and businesses around the world. There was great debate on the big issues of how to boost productivity by harnessing the potential of individuals and societies.
During the conference a new report released by The Economist Intelligence Unit focuses on many of the challenges faced by global organizations in the coming decade. Sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the report is a wake-up call for what corporate leaders must do to prepare their organizations for the challenges of operating with a workforce spread worldwide. Survey respondents report their organizations will become larger and more global in the next ten years. They will be less centralized with local operations having the freedom to pursue opportunities that fuel the global organization. Organizational hierarchies will become flatter. At an earlier stage of their career, employees will have more responsibility and greater decision-making responsibility. More contingent workers will reduce traditional organizational loyalty, leading to an increase in employee churn.
What does this mean in practice for how organizations will be managed now and in the future? At Manpower Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Joerres spoke passionately about how the role of leadership must change, with senior executives serving as coaches – replacing the traditional role of mangers that control every aspect of their operation. With an increasing number of younger workers, organizations must operate in new ways. That is exactly what Scott Cook, Founder and Chairman of the Executive Committee, has done at Intuit Inc, North America’s leading payroll service supplier. Cook believes the role of the CEO is two-fold: first, set strategic direction and goals; and second, make available the resources necessary to enable employees to deliver on the objectives. Creating such an employee-empowered organization is increasingly essential for workers worldwide to develop a common sense of purpose and belonging. Dr. Jim Goodnight, Chief Executive Officer of SAS, believes in challenging employees to achieve great things and drive the company forward. At the height of last year’s economic downturn, Goodnight made a commitment of no employee layoffs because of economic conditions. The result, in 2009 SAS grew revenue through a dedicated global workforce, despite the most severe economic conditions in a generation.
The economic collapse of the past couple of years points out the difficulty of forecasting how market forces will affect companies over the next decade. Regulatory changes, scientific breakthroughs, and geopolitical events will greatly influence how business executives set strategic direction and goals as Scott Cook is doing at Intuit. Who will succeed? Over the next ten years the businesses that thrive will be those that successfully manage the complexities and paradoxes of operating on a global basis.