Most people are working so hard that perhaps they haven't heard the good news. We know how people can work smarter, not harder. Let me say that again-you probably didn't catch it. With all the stories about how much people are working, there haven't been many stories about how much differently people could be working, to far greater effect, benefit, advantage.
It is time to spend some effort on yourself, as an individual, a group, a company. Many places spend so much time on the customer and the client that they neglect themselves. This is foolish. There are programs on customer service, customer relations, marketing, sales, client needs, but precious few on treating yourself as well as you treat a client. There is so much noise about increasing outcomes and results that a quieter message hasn't registered: the key to improving what happens with others is paying attention to what is happening with you.
The dark secret of business is that the Golden Rule has been applied only to others, outsiders, strangers, when all the lessons of psychology, healthcare, and spiritual development are that you have to work on yourself if you hope to have a healthy or beneficial effect on others.
Treating customers and clients well is superficial and artificial if you don't treat yourselves well, and it will backfire, it will eventually do you in.
As I said, we know what needs to be done to have better morale, higher spirits and energy, greater productivity (effectiveness and efficiency), increased intelligence and capability, in any collection of people.
The problem is often that a firm or company just won't invest time, effort, or money in itself.
This is not good. It is counter-productive. It is a recipe for disaster. Some businesses can get away with this longer than others, but sooner or later it will catch up with them all.
There is a perception that only the largest corporations in the world pay attention to these things. Most of the stories about applying new approaches to management seem to be about companies with billions of dollars of annual revenue and tens of thousands of employees.
That's misleading in several ways. First, less than 10% of the workforce work in all the largest 500 companies put together. Second, it is easier to get results in smaller companies than in large ones. Third, powerful results make more of a difference in a smaller company than they do in the largest companies where they are often lost in the shuffle.
I once worked in a large corporation-Fortune 30, $12 billion a year, 125,000 people around the world. I was a manager in a division of the company that had a budget of $50 million a year-my boss told me this was a "rounding error" to the company as a whole.
Some companies would love to be that decimal point, so I specialize in such a rounding error.
This is the news that you may not have heard-a collection of people can work smarter, more creatively, and be more productive, by applying some principles of 20th century sciences. True, these are social sciences or behavioral sciences, which some people used to call "soft." That meant they were less mathematical than "hard" science. Why did we say that? Because some people found math hard in school. That has changed-organizational systems have been promoted into being hard.
Let's remember that business is a social activity--it is about people making connections and having interactions with other people, having relationships, conducting transactions with each other. That's sometimes lost sight of in a blaze of numbers from finance, accounting, and software programming. (In the same vein, it helps to recall that economics is a branch of moral philosophy, political philosophy-a human science.)
In most cultures, business is clearly a function of social relations. Many finance-focused Americans have to be educated about this. Their social development has lagged behind their facility with a spreadsheet. I know of leading business schools that send their students off to summer jobs in other countries with no background knowledge or orientation to that country's language, culture, customs. I mean not one class or tutoring session. I know of graduate programs that don't have a single class on how to work with other people-even though that is what every graduate will be doing in their working life.
So it should not be surprising that professional service firms, service businesses, corporations in the service sector, have not realized that they should be looking at service from the inside, not only from the outside. Management should serve people within the organization, it should focus on internal working environments and relations as much as it does on "delivering" products or service to an external market. When I ask managers to list the projects they're managing, they list their customer accounts and projects. Then I ask them to consider themselves one of those projects, and that turns them around, the light goes on, and things change.