Who will define “enough” again?

“enough” adequate for the want or need; sufficient for the purpose or to satisfy desire’



Would it be completely absurd to tell you that I am waiting for THE MANAGER or THE COMPANY who will publicly announce:

"We reached our goals this year hence business was a success. We are happy with the outcome and now we will focus on maintaining this level for the next 5 years. Our aim will no longer be growth but consolidation. We will reinforce our strengths, concentrate on our human resources and prepare for real growth, which will be the result of increasing business and not of cost saving.”


Is it safe to assume that all these well paid managers, work based on their education and expertise or do they just follow orders of even better paid managers?


I have been working with international companies for many years and it seems that there is less and less creativity on how to propel businesses forward to the next level. However, creativity deployed to save money is impressive. Every year big international corporations publish their results and inform us that yet again they managed to increase their sales. But how is this possible? Each year managers and co-workers likewise are expected to sell more products, services, etc.; they live in a world of forecasts and prognoses. Sales increase is their daily mantra. But can it be actual growth behind these figures?


I would like to believe that there are still people out there who know that in the long run the path they are on cannot lead into sustainable success.


In almost every conversation I encounter in my coaching sessions people tell me that they have too much work. But they take on more work and accept tasks that do not always fall within the framework of their core competence. Why do they do that? Very simple, most co-workers are dedicated to their companies and their jobs. They feel satisfaction from accomplishing goals and they feel needed. In addition, they do not have time to reflect on the requirements or contemplate if they really make good business sense.


I have witnessed many staff meetings, in which CEOs thanked their staff and managers for their contribution. They express their gratitude that yet again another forecast was fulfilled and sales were increased. They pamper their human resources (by this I mean the people who work in a company and not the department) with bonuses and lure them into feeling good. “Now we know we can do it! Let’s see if we can exceed our own expectations and further enhance our sales for next year! For extra stimulation we set our goals even higher.”


As a self-employed person I have to say that burn-out has never been an option for me. And I would actually dare the assumption that self-employed people suffer less from burn-out. This is my personal opinion and not a statement based on research. In my eyes the reasons are simple. It is definitely not less workload, but we are self-driven. We generally occupy ourselves with work we have chosen and which corresponds with our core competence. Otherwise we would not succeed. We have the liberty to say ‘no’ and we define our own goals.

More and more people in companies, however, suffer from burn-out. They feel stressed and they find no work-life-balance. I have not figured out why some years ago German co-workers have started to feel the ultimate fear to lose their jobs if they disagree with their management or consider saying “no” to an assignment. Social security in Germany is still one of the best in the world – expensive – however safe. Companies have well understood how to benefit from this fear. Entire departments accept when someone leaves that there will be no replacement. They just take on the additional workload and continue their daily routines.


I have observed three main areas of cost saving: head counts, advertising and education. The budgets behind these areas, especially advertising and education are mostly unknown to the public. In general if companies struggle advertising and education are the first areas to be reduced. Already a mistake because you can only enhance your business by increasing awareness and ensuring that your co-workers are well- educated. Head counts come last, but they are the most effective cost saving measure. But in reality, a lot of global players do not struggle. To the contrary! My question is why do globally successful companies exploit their human resources? Why do they try to convince us that they manage to grow their business every year? If they lay off people or do not replace them, if they do not truly invest in education then they save a lot of money. There is no magic behind understanding that these savings improve their results and make it easier to reach over-ambitious forecasts. I cannot consider this mere growth. Who will put an end to this?


Fluctuation on management levels has increased. I ask myself, what qualifications a manager needs today? Normally in Germany, managers have to be technical experts, whose soft skills are often underdeveloped. Nowadays it appears that all they need to know is how to save money. And honestly even that is simple. You put people under more pressure and if they do not deliver you reposition them until they leave on their own or you fire them.


I cannot remember the last time I was impressed by an innovative business idea. In rare cases I meet courageous managers who follow their beliefs and are competent and confident enough to pursue their objectives. Even in extremely successful companies I often hear that budgets are tight. Today managers have to impress by how far they can fall below their annual budget. They do not even try to come up with a good strategy how to invest in people and good ideas. They follow orders. Is that what we go to university for? Is that what we learn in life? Not only do we deal with helicopter parents, we deal with helicopter managers who are unable to rely on their intuition and education to implement meaningful and strategic business ideas. “Unable” because the expectations of companies are not always aligned with their core values, but aim at cost saving pressure. Due to this they undermine a certain necessary autonomy of their staff – hence everybody seems in a vicious circle.


I am truly convinced this cannot go on for too much longer. Somebody truly intelligent with impact and charisma will have to come out and remember the definition of “enough”!

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