Moved by our “Learning and Teaching” value, since 2010 Prof. Falconi shares his management experience and knowledge with the readers of Exame magazine on a monthly basis. Through objective answers, he establishes a dialogue and clarifies doubts about methods, entrepreneurship, career and leadership, among other topics related to the business world.
Check out the February/2017 column below. Enjoy your reading!
DIFFICULT TIMES CALL FOR FLEXIBILITY AND RESILIENCE
1. Companies in general, because of the crisis, are using dismissal without criterion as a measure to equate accounts. How to avoid cutting staff with suggestions to improve efficiency? Anonymous
Companies lay off during a crisis because they are suffering and need to cut costs quickly. In a hurry, the quickest way to do this is to reduce the staff. In some cases there is not much one can do to avoid this. However, it could be different if the search for waste reduction was a continuous activity, not an episodic measure, in a moment of desperation. Every person in the company should learn to identify their shortcomings, what the earning opportunities in the results are, and master their problem solving method to eliminate waste slowly but surely.
When the crisis comes – and we all know that it always comes – the company is already prepared and therefore suffers less. However, what we do see is that companies in general do not calculate their shortcomings, have no goals, do not train their employees in solving problems, and do not put pressure on them to obtain results. In desperation, they take hasty measures. Often waste is hidden or embedded in the company culture and it would be good in some cases, to ask for outside help, from someone who can collaborate with a distanced and critical point of view.
2. I am an economist, I am 47 years old, I have an MBA, I have worked abroad, I am fluent in English and Spanish and for more than a year I have been unemployed. I restructured myself to act as a consultant, without success. How can I better manage my actions to become re-employed? Anonymous
The unemployment rate in Brazil has already reached 12%, not counting the share of the population that gave up looking for a job and are not part of the statistics. The situation really is not good, but we are seeing an improvement with the new government. After these words of encouragement, let us answer your question – which I’m sure is the same as that of millions of Brazilians at the moment. While we wait for the solution of the general context to come from the government, there are some initiatives that each person can take to alleviate their own difficulties.
One of them is to detach yourself from the chains of your specialization and make yourself available to do any work. It is the first step. Another thing is not to make wage demands. In a desperate situation you must be willing to work with anything until everything can sort itself out. Do not forget to turn to your friends, who make up a network of contacts you have built up over the 47 years of your life. Make contact with each one of them and talk about it. Ask for ideas. Don’t ask for employment. Look for work and strive tirelessly until you find it. When you can find it, give the best you have to offer, whatever the opportunity is that lies ahead.
This reminds me of an excerpt from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, which impressed me a lot. The character, who was in a foreign country in North Africa, had lost everything he had and was hungry. Going up the street, he saw a crystal shop and noticed that it was dirty, dusty and without a single customer. He volunteered to clean the store in exchange for food. Over the course of a few days he cleaned the whole store and all the crystals with a lot of care, always smiling at people, then customers started to appear in the store and the owner offered him a permanent job. I have never forgotten this passage.
3. We are struggling with team reduction efforts, but we are faced with resistance from a number of areas in defining how many positions can be closed. It is not always easy to find the perfect number. Do you think there is an ideal number to make up a team? Is there a magic number of how many employees should be under a single manager? Anonymous
The number of people who report to the same boss is called “control span.” I usually say 10. This is not a rule. It is necessary to make a good assessment to know what the exact case is. The right way to do this is based on the general theory of systems: we must evaluate the processes and the structure of the business system, in this order. Process evaluation aims to eliminate or simplify internal products and, as a result, simplify processes by eliminating unnecessary steps, simplifying, computerizing, and so on. Once this is done, the most adequate structure is designed, always looking to take care of processes as horizontally as possible. The reduction of teams is a technical effort, not a simple imposition of quota reduction.
Source: Exame.com – Visual Management column – 02/08/2017
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