'Trust & Staff Development: The real missing links' Brett Flower, BizCoach
I read the latest KPMG survey ‘Global CEO Outlook 2017: The outlook for Australia” with great interest. Having been an MD of an international subsidiary; charged with growth, profitability and sustainability, I was interested to see where the barometer of leadership thinking lay.
The report is essential reading for anyone running a business or those who aspire to. It contains many ‘good news’ stories of forecast growth and a conclusion that CEO’s are up for a challenge and ‘…are demonstrating an ability to embrace change while approaching new ideas with enthusiasm”. It does however highlight that on the world stage, we seem to be going backward globally on the very basic necessity that companies need to invest in. Namely, the development of diversity, trust, talent and culture. Product it would seem – eclipses people.
The same observation cannot be said of the development desires or ambitions at the top. The report stated that: ‘69 percent of Australian CEOs (against 68 percent of global CEOs) saying they have taken training or received a new qualification in the past year’.
Conversely, consider how Australian based CEO’s prioritize ‘Talent development / Management’.
That’s right. The surveyed CEO’s place staff development at a lowly 5+ % priority. Nearly 10% below the global response. The report also states, ‘To stay on top of developments, however, business needs individuals with specific knowledge and expertise…’. It appears our leaders want to stay on top ‘developments’ and require specific expertise and yet there appears to be no priority to look inwardly to meet that need.
The report considered trust and sustainability and delving further into the many criteria questioned, I found another irony with the CEO’s views on public trust; “(trust)… is a clear concern for CEOs with 73 percent indicating that their business is placing more importance on trust, values and culture to sustain their future. Interestingly, only 59 percent of Australian CEOs are doing the same.”
To look into that finding a little further, Investopia defines corporate sustainability as: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.”
Further; economic, environmental and social needs form the three pillars of Corporate sustainability. You may question why many people are cynical of our leadership in Australia – the classic ‘tall poppy syndrome”, the report may have uncovered some justification of that negative viewpoint. See below on how our CEO’s prioritised public trust – and then compare that with the benchmark against the rest of the world.
Building trust, it seems is not a priority at all. In fact, it hardly rated compared to all the other priorities.
There is an overwhelming view that the prioritising of ‘implementing disrupting technology’ is the number 1 priority and to ‘manage the ecosystem of partners’ a close second. Let’s also consider that. Back in 2013, Forbes published an article which included the statement; ‘If companies are going to continue to keep the customer as their main focus and deliver what the customer truly needs, a strong and committed partnership ecosystem is more important than ever’.
The irony here is that to develop strong and committed partnerships, you must first establish ongoing trust.
The third priority for our CEO’s is the ability to ‘respond to regulatory change’. This is and was a passion of mine. It is one thing to desire to keep abreast of change, it’s another to achieve it. As a CEO /MD / GM you CANNOT do it alone, and even if you are one of the 69% (like I was) that did undertake training to gain awareness, you still need a strong, supportive and informed staff to consult with and are empowered to enact positive change.
From my experience, the only way to stay abreast of regulatory change is to have multiple ‘subject matter experts’ within your trusted colleagues. The only way I was able to take a non-compliant 25-year-old subsidiary of a 110-year parent company to OHSAS18001 compliance, was through the empowerment, development and investment in my staff!
They attended auditing courses, training sessions and it was a battle to get that support, but because I concentrated on and supported their development, we achieved what 24 other global subsidiaries in our group had not.
Diversity is something we as Australians endorse proudly in public and criticise in private. I was honoured for our subsidiary to feature in our global glossy magazine under a title ‘The United Nations’. The double page spread featured some of the 75% non – Aussie Born colleagues. As a anglo saxon Australian born employee – I was a minority! Within such a diverse group, lay MANY hidden talents. Our accountant was a Physics Major from Myanmar, our team assistant, a Finance Major from Shanghai, and our Sales Engineer from Brazil spoke 4 languages – fluently, and was an amazing guitarist!
Now…let’s see how the report rates how the Australian CEO’s really value or prioritise diversity in the Australian workplace.
I was extremely shocked and embarrassed at our CEO’s responses. We talk a big game but it appears we do not play it. The results make a statement more than I could hope to define, so I will leave it there.
So, my summary of how our leaders are operating and prioritising their tasks benchmarked against the rest of the world raises significant questions of how and where our current leaders are looking to the future.
I believe if the heads of industry truly want to implement ‘disruptive technology’ I would urge our CEO’s to consider the greatest proven growth and culture facilitator; Staff TRAINING and DEVELOPENT. Before looking outwardly and complaining ‘Competition for such highly skilled talent is, understandably, intense and expensive.’, The answer you are looking for may in fact lie within.
The barometer reading for me? A change is well overdue!
I encourage everyone to download and read the report and welcome your feedback.
The full report can be downloaded from: https://home.kpmg.com/au/en/home/insights/2017/06/global-ceo-outlook-2017-australia.html?utm_source=issue.by&utm_campaign=innovation&utm_content=Strategic%20focus