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Where have all the Good Guys Gone?

- by Mark Deavall

I read on the news that President Obama is meeting with world leaders to discuss ways of fixing the world economy (simply put), and this got me thinking about what we should expect from this “summit”. Or to put it another way, what expectations are being created by all these talks.

Listening to and reading these news reports, I’m starting to gain the impression that we as “Mr. and Mrs. Average” are sitting back and waiting for these world leaders to come up with a miraculous plan that will put us all back where we were before this “crisis” hit us. So maybe it’s time for a reality check!

These world leaders do not have the answers. They’ve proved that over the last year or so. After all, when you boil it all down, they’re actually responsible for it! Every time they’ve announced a “rescue plan” things have gone even more pear-shaped. So plan after plan has failed, and yet they keep trying. Well done chaps, 10 out of 10 for trying! But now trying is not good enough! We need some good concrete action to get the economies of the individual countries of the world going.

So if these world leaders don’t have the answers, who does? Interestingly enough, you and I do! Yes you and I! Surprised? Don’t be. It’s really quite simple to understand. The economy of any country is dependent upon the individual economies of its citizens and businesses. And if we look after those, the result is a very healthy economy for the country. Now you’re saying “but Mark, I didn’t cause the banks to collapse and I didn’t cause the motor industry to collapse. What influence do I have on the world economy?” More than you realise.

Also I read about a pending transport strike. Why are they striking? Because there is no agreement between the union and employers regarding minimum wages (Now stay with me as this has a lot to do with our economy). So once again this brain started thinking. Why are we negotiating around minimum wages? Surely an individual is paid what he or she is worth. Yes I know that in some unscrupulous countries there are sweat shops and the like, but come on folks, this is a country trying to behave like a first world country! Surely you are paid what you are worth. And if the average employer feels that they want to pay you less than minimum wage, surely that should tell you something – like get your act together or find another job! In other words take responsibility for your earning ability instead of using this country’s labour laws to legitimise your laziness!

Everywhere I go I hear people talk about “job descriptions”. When a new employee starts at a company they want a job description. When someone does not want to do something, “it’s not in my job description”, when we discipline we refer back to the job description and so on. Job description, job description, job description. It’s almost like some mystical mantra that’s going to protect the “rights” of the worker and the employer. Well to a degree that’s true, but it does absolutely nothing for productivity and by inference, profitability. The reason being that a job description is based on the minimum results that we expect from a worker, and therefore there is a tendency to work “down” to a job description. However when we give people a “responsibility” description, it is based on going beyond the so called “job” and therefore there is a tendency to work “up” to the “responsibility” description.

It’s a bit like being a parent. When we have children there are two roles that we fulfil – mother/father and parent. Now being a mother or father is the “job”. We wake up in the morning, get Johnny out of bed, get his face washed, feed him breakfast, get his teeth brushed, get him dressed, get him off to school etc. That’s the “job” or the check list, and if you as a parent were being measured according to that checklist, we could all say that you are a great parent. But we know that’s not it. The well being of little Johnny is uppermost in your mind all day and long after he has gone to bed you are busy preparing and doing things that will contribute to him growing up as a responsible member of society. So the “doing the job every day” is because of the responsibility of producing a well balanced, contributing member of society.

So surely we should be dealing with our workers that way. Surely we should be giving them responsibilities, and then empowering them and giving them the skills with which to fulfil those responsibilities.

So we’re talking about creating a “culture of responsibility” in the workplace. Performance is about “working up” to responsibilities instead of “working down” to a job description.

So if we all become responsible for our personal economy and work toward strengthening that, it stands to reason that the economy of our country will strengthen. Yes, you still won’t stop the banks and other industries from getting into trouble, but if we as individuals become more productive in the workplace, take responsibility for our earning ability, control our debt and save, we become invulnerable to the ups and downs of the worlds economies.

Oh, and a note for employers – only employ people that manage their personal economy carefully and with wisdom.

Mark Deavall is the managing director of Merit Business Institute, a company committed to increasing the profitability of business. To contact Mark, please call him on 27 82 465 5481 or 27 11 609-1264 or e-mail me

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