By Dr. Roy E. Alston
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, corporate profits grew 36.8% in 2010. This represents the biggest gain in corporate profits since 1950. Corporations have cut costs, reduced labor, invested in technology, opened new markets, and taken advantage of cheap money via low interest rates. In short, corporations have gotten what corporations need to make it through an underperforming economy that boasts a 9% unemployment rate. In the midst of corporations recovering from the effects of the Great Recession, leaders have forgotten to ask their people what they need to be just as successful as the company.
When corporations are faced with a crisis, company leaders get in a room and they discuss the courses of action to right the ship. Company leaders seek out advice from industry experts, conduct a SWOT analysis, develop a plan, execute the plan, analyze the results, and make adjustments as needed. Unfortunately, during this process, company leaders fail to ask, "What do our people need to be successful?" The truth is our people know that corporate profits have been rising steadily, while unemployment has remained high, and our people are left out of the prosperity.
The current economy is a crisis for our people and our people need the following:
Training that will give them the technical skills to do the jobs of the new economy.
Leadership development so they can address the demands of emerging external business realities in today's complex, dynamic, cyclic, and global commercial environment.
Motivation so that they can look up and share in the vision and promise of tomorrow.
Self-empowerment that discovers and garners the resources required to be an amazing person both personally and professionally.
Organizations that have failed to provide training, leadership development, motivation and self-empowerment to their people have failed to invest in their most important asset. As a result, a large gap has opened up between organizational performance and people performance in the current corporate climate and ultimately in the current economic climate. As leaders, we must be aware of this phenomenon and begin the process of closing this gap. Closing this gap means corporate leaders giving their people what they need to succeed or risk a destabilized and demoralized workforce. Our people need to be aware of what they need to succeed and start asking for what they need to succeed. If they don't, they risk being left behind and relegated to "non-participant" status in a global economy where unemployment is in the double digits or higher.
Roy E. Alston is a visionary leadership consultant, strategist, and public servant who also teaches Organizational Leadership at Mountain State University. Alston holds a Ph.D. in Applied Management and Decision Sciences with a specialization in Leadership and Organizational Change from Walden University.