Surveys, Statistics, and Damn Lies
-- Hey, the numbers don't lie!
<...in my best Richard Dawson voice...>
Ok, if you don't know who Richard Dawson is, keep it to yourself.
We just finished compiling the results of our annual Survey of Senior Leadership: 2013 Business Challenges. Once again, the response rate increased for this, our 6th year of surveying business leaders on a few significant topics.
What came from a simple client request to ask a few other clients what was going on in their world (thanks, Roy!), has grown into a substantial piece of survey data, used by more than just a few for benchmarking and "calibrating" their current directions, focus, and efforts.
And the results continue to be interesting.
Since 2010, the top five business challenges have remained substantially the same as a group-though their relative standing fluctuates somewhat. Revenue/Earnings Enhancement has led the list now for three straight years--no shock there. Management Development/Performance, equally unsurprising, continues to come in a reasonably close second.
Interestingly, Strategy, Vision, Direction very nearly dropped off the Top 5 this year, narrowly holding on to the fifth spot, lagging well behind Employee Benefits Legislation and Costs. Talent Acquisition, Retention, & Management has moved from off the list in 2011, to #4 last year, to this year's #3 spot.
Conclusions? Clearly, hanging on to and increasing revenue/earnings continue to be near and dear to our hearts. We obviously feel that our manager's performance could use some shoring up (probably in pursuit of the revenue/earnings mentioned above), and overall talent management and retention is becoming top of mind.
These things, of course, are quite interrelated.
Looking at the Top Issues you said you faced individually, New Business and Revenue took the #1 spot from Clear Vision & Strategy, pushing it down to #2, though the percentage of supporting respondents actually increased; very telling in that new business must really be a major topic for us all.
Management Skills, Cost Reductions (G&A, healthcare), and Talent Retention rounded up the top five personal concerns faced by survey respondents.
Finally, and most notably, Staffing Plans for the next 12 months changed significantly. Only 37% of you said you were planning on increasing staff size in 2013, a 36% drop from last year. Just as telling-those not planning on changing either way increased by nearly 85% year over year, to almost half of all respondents.
The silver lining continues to be those reducing headcounts-down to 14% this year, the lowest since we started asking (2010).
Clearly, we're not out of the woods yet, regarding both realities and perceptions of our economies and progress. I see good things when strategy stays to the forefront, and the recognition that leadership talent is what drives our successes.
Thanks to those who participated, so that we can all enjoy the results and get some degree of value from them, and I hope you all have a great 2013.
If you missed the link above, you can download the 2013 Survey of Senior Leadership here.
-- Well, it's getting better...
Recently, I was working with some mid-and senior-managers of a client of mine. We were discussing how far senior leadership had come since we began down the path of change, evolving from a more "controlling" environment to a more empowered one, with resulting communications, performance expectations, etc.
It's been an interesting ride, to say the least.
Anyway, when asked "So, are we making progress?" One manager participant offered the comment, "Well, it's getting better."
In leadership parlance, folks, that is a rousing success. A standing ovation. The "wave" at a football game. We reached that par-5 in two...
"We're getting better." That's the key to this whole thing, isn't it?
There's no simple, three-line memo that we can send out that says, "Effective Tuesday, we'll become better leaders." There's no 12-page "Definitive Guide to Leadership" that provides solutions to all challenges. If there were, I would have written it, sold it for a bazillion dollars, and be living on my own island near Tahiti. In all likelihood, you wouldn't be invited.
No, it's a process, and success looks like a series of small victories in succession. We've got to work--proactively--at becoming better leaders today to be capable and ready to deal with whatever changes tomorrow brings. And... there will be changes.
Are your folks saying--when you're not within earshot--"we're getting better."?
They should be...