The occurrence of an accident in the work place is something that can send managers into a panic. 50 years ago, the concern would have been solely for the health and well-being of the employee. Whilst it would be wrong to infer that managers of today are cold or disconnected – I’m sure they would all agree that they would also feel concern for the impact on the finances of the company – through litigation.
For better or for worse, the rise of valid claim for personal injury in the UK is slowly changing the attitudes of leaders. Previously, health and safety was a term only used in very dangerous work places such as mines, oil rigs, fishing ships, logging yards and nuclear plants. Now, even the tamest of suburban office spaces will have a comprehensive ‘HSE’ plan implemented by a responsible individual.
Some may scoff at such procedure, but I actually see it as laudable activity. Nobody can argue that having first aid kits and trained personnel on site is going to have a negative effect on employee health, so I view it as a step in the right direction.
Many do not share my view, and see the regulations as ‘red tape’. Indeed, the regulations force many businesses, small or large, to incur training and wage costs that they otherwise wouldn’t have. There is however an interesting point to be made; that the more a company spends on H&S, the less they will expect to spend on litigation claims brought by employees. Law firm Moore Blatch predicts that workplace injuries will rise due to the Health & Safety executive announcing they will be reducing the number of inspections to employers.
I guess it will always be difficult to draw the line between lives saved, and costs saved.
Leaders have had little choice but adopt the regulations imposed by legislation, so the end product doesn’t necessarily reflect the enthusiasm of the tone at the top. Never the less, it is easy to spot when management are fully behind the HSE initiative.
As a manager or leader, or simply as an employee, leave a comment below to tell us whether you support Health & Safety initiatives being implemented in your workplace. If you’re from outside the UK, why don’t you share the current situation on HSE in your country and whether you approve of it.
As Gino Wickes writes; entrepreneurs usually face at least one of five common frustrations with their business. These are; A Lack of Control, Unresponsive Staff, A Growth Plateau, Unprofitability and a Change-Avoidant Culture. Essentially these are the five factors that hold back ‘good’ businesses from being ‘great’ businesses, and we all suffer from these problems from time to time.
Now, in Traction, Gino presents his view of a successful company that has managed to mitigate, or completely avoid the five common frustrations. The rest of the text aims to provide a practical roadmap to guide an entrepreneur to improving various components of his business incrementally in order to improve the system. Gino uses a computer metaphor – in that if the business is a computer, then this book provides the operating system. Gino’s strategy is coined the Entreprenerial Operating System™.
Titles aside, does the substance of Traction fulfill its purpose? Not just as a start-up guide, but also as a ‘rescue’ strategy?
Home Truths & My Thoughts
Traction opens with a frank principle that you won’t hear in conversation often. It’s the crazy notion that entrepreneurs with successful companies are sometimes risk evasive, and that their risk aversion actually holds back the company. Let’s just think about that for a moment.
What’s crazier than that notion is that I completely see the logic here! Entrepreneurs often talk of starting their business ‘from nothing’. In fact, on TV shows these days you’ll be hard pressed to find a businesman or woman who remains modest about their humble beginnings. The important point to note is that with ‘nothing’ in the bag, these entrepreneurs had absolutely nothing to lose to begin with.
5 years later, sitting on a private shareholding in a company worth £50,000,000 – the entrepreneur has clearly succeeded, but this is where the problem kicks in. Now the entrepreneur’s comforts, prosperity, and even social status depend on the continuation of the business. In this position, I would not be surprised if the entrepreneur was very frightened about taking any further steps. I’m talking around this small point in detail for a book review, I realise, and this is one of the reasons why I like this book. Traction contains plenty of interlectually challenging ideas and methods. But at the same time, it isn’t a leadership theory book at all!
An Entrepreneurs Manual
You will find Traction to be quite different from the other leadership books I have reviewed on Leadership Expert. The main difference is that Traction is very specific and hands-on in approaching management skills. Rather than just focusing on the ‘soft’ skills such as communication, motivation and culture, Traction details a handful of ‘this is what you need to do, and this is how you do it’ projects, including:
- Which performance metrics and data you will want to look at on a weekly basis
- How to draw up an organisational hierachy
- How to deliver an effective meeting.
In short, this is good stuff that owner/managers want to know. While this content certainly has a heavy slant towards the entrepreneurial type, I don’t see why this ideas couldn’t be used by a mid to senior level manager in a corporate environment either. The title makes for an easy-to-dip-into read that I believe will find a happy home on your desk.
Leadership Culture – What is leadership culture, which type does your organisation have, and how can you improve it?
Edgar Schein (1985) defines Leadership culture in an organization as being comprised of three elements: Basic assumptions, value and artifacts – with basic assumptions being the most important and in-grained element, and artifacts being the most superficial and easy to change.
Basic Assumptions in Leadership Culture
Basic assumptions evolve in a company after an action is repeatedly performed. These basic assumptions become part of our perception of our collegues and processes, and are so pervasive, they touch upon thought processes such as;
1. What we pay attention to.
2. What things mean.
3. How we should react emotionally.
4. What actions we should take in reaction to day-to-day events.
If you’d like to see a demonstration of different assumptions in action, then I’d ask you to imagine the reaction a Bailiff would have to someone objecting to pay them, and compare this to the reaction a small industrial company would have to someone objecting to pay them. To the bailiff this would be an ordinary and unsurprising occurrence – and they would feel little wrong in continuing to hassle the non-payer for money. On the other hand, a small industrial company would be concerned about maintaining good relationships with customers, and would approach the situation far more sympathetically. Neither reaction is necessarily the universal ‘right’ way to handle this occurrence, this is why different cultures form in the first place.
Values In Leadership Culture
Values are a less permanent form of leadership culture, and thus are more easily changed than assumptions. Values reflect consensus in the organisation as to how things “ought to be done”. Examples of popular values are:
1. Equal opportunities for all employees regardless of age, race, religion or sexuality.
2. Employees should strive to produce high quality work.
3. Employees should always pursue challenges and opportunities for growth.
Values sound like ‘lip service’ items, but to take ‘pursuing challenges’ as an example – in professional services firms, it is genuinely frowned upon for a member of staff to attempt to stay in their comfort zone and not wish to be promoted further. Values are those beliefs that are commonly held across the company.
Artifacts In Leadership Culture
Artifacts are the most ‘obvious’ and present manifestations of a business’s culture. These include manifestations such as
1. Mission statements.
3. Methods of communication.
4. Technology used
5. Business strategy, such as level of customer service
Artifacts are proactively constructed and sculpted, and hence can be controlled easily by management. If however, artifacts that have been over-managed can become in-congruent with the employee’s actual culture – and their influence over organisational culture becomes minimal.
How Can A Leader Change The Leadership Culture?
What this theory demonstrates is that the basic assumptions in a company’s culture need to shift to improve the culture as a whole. This can only be changed through leading by example. This means you need to improve your own leadership skills and display them confidently. If you want to quickly improve your leadership skills then I suggest you check out a cheap product that other leadership professionals and I recommend to our clients: The Ultimate Leadership Guide.