Friday, December 05, 2008

Retention

There are these ads that I've been seeing on the telly. Really interesting ones. If these aren't actors, I've been thinking, and this is the kind of faculty at London Business School, I'd be very interested to go over there. If this is how these people actually think and they aren't just reading some lines written out for them. These guys are brilliant. Got amazed every time I saw a different ad with a different professor, on a different topic. Each as thought provoking and intelligent as the previous one. Possibly even more.

One features a proposition that organisations' biggest asset these days isn't money necessarily. But talent. And, needless to say, that struck a cord with me. It always bewildered me from the time I left campus and got into the job market how much it seemed that firms put the bottom line first, rather than their human resource. I'm clueless at business but it didn't even make economic sense to me. A company would offer a guy double his pay or something when he says he's resigning. Why wait. If at some point you thought the guy was worth that much, why not give the guy the cash then. This is saving in the short-term I thought. Not in the long-term. Replacing guys isn't without cost. Perhaps indirect cost more than direct. One of the doctors told me at the time that we were just machinery in the assembly line. That's how businesses thought of workers. Look at cost of production. Lower it as much as you can. And if one guy leaves, bring in another guy and life goes on.

I was talking to aJamaa one evening before I formerly left it all. Would you hire me. Yes, he goes. But why. I'll only leave after 2 years. Then he told me how it is the good guys who leave organisations. Apparently "bad" guys never do. Never thought of it that way before. So how do you keep good guys. The professor suggested something; I can't quite remember what. The language used was too conc for me to remember. But I internalized it as making work and workplaces fun. When I was a kid, I didn't understand the concept of a job. Perhaps because my dad was unemployed most of that time. In contrast my niece seems to know exactly what "job" is. That thing that keeps you away from the house. The dad has been working crazy hours. Anyway. I decided that when I grew up, I didn't want a job. I instead wanted to work. And to me those were very different things. And for up to about a year and a half into working life I felt this way. I woke up in the morning and went off to work. I didn't think of it as a job. I just did some stuff and some guy happened to give me money at the end of the month. Yay. It started becoming a job when all sorts of bureaucracy started being introduced. Going to work started becoming a drag. Because I wasn't going to work anymore. I was going to a job. And that felt miserable. So I put in my 9 to 6 shift as I was required to, and no more. Started to look at my payslip and all of a sudden figured that I wasn't being adequately compensated. And that was a company of 25 people. Making life "fun" in big organisations is orders of magnitude more difficult. I actually don't quite understand how large organisations run. It's a miracle. I guess the CEOs deserve their million shilling salaries in that regard. But I think making a place somewhere where people want to come in the morning, rather than curse that they have to, isn't an impossibility. Not entirely anyway. And investing in this direction is worthwhile for a company to do. I think it pays in the long run.

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