Just 19% of employees in Russian organisations are engaged. The opportunity cost is staggering: $50 billion invested annually in people not motivated to achieve organisational goals. Is there any other investment area leaders would accept such returns without acting?
In a country that prior to the 2008 crisis had arguably the best human resources anywhere in the world (Economist Intelligence Unit 2007) this represents the biggest missed opportunity for organisations in Russia today. But can anything be done about it?
The management thinker Gary Hamel once famously declared that “human beings are limited not by our resources but by our aspirations”. Nowhere is this more true than in Russia. Organisations overall are unhealthy, for they are not “adaptable … innovative at their core” or “engaging, exciting places to work.”
It’s perhaps unsurprising. Private enterprise was only legalised a little over a quarter of a century ago, giving the modern Russian organisation little time to develop a healthy corporate culture. The road has also been bumpy - from the gangster capitalism of the early 90’s to crashes of ’98, ’01 and ’08. While imported expat talent - meant to accelerate commercial development - was often not of the first variety.
When the going was good though, it was very good. But then again, even a turkey flies in a tornado. But what do you do when the trade winds have died down and you must make your way forward under your own steam?McKinsey have shown the path. Over a decade of research across multiple industries they have uncovered what they call the ‘great paradox of management’ - that “when it comes to achieving and sustaining excellence in [organisational] performance, what separates winners from losers is, paradoxically, the very focus on performance itself.” In other words, if you want to be a great organisation, stop focusing on performance (your measurable operational and financial activities) alone.
What McKinsey discovered was that those who focus on both organisational health and performance simultaneously are “nearly three times as successful as those that focus on performance alone”.
The answer seems obvious - if you want to get more out of your people investment then create an environment that provides what talented employees everywhere want - a dynamic workplace where they feel empowered to make meaningful change happen.
The question is, how do you do that with depleted resources and an environment where tomorrow might be too late …. ?
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