The latest Oliver Wight conference, with its theme of ‘Business Transformation and How to Achieve it’, exposes that while business leaders recognise people are the key to success, they are not doing enough to prepare their teams for future challenges.
A poll of 80 business leaders from nearly 40 European companies, conducted at the Oliver Wight Conference and Class A Awards Dinner, reveals that the biggest challenge for businesses in 2017 will be ‘growth’, with 59 percent of delegates choosing this ahead of other issues including ‘competition’ (14 percent) and, ‘economic slowdown’ (10 percent).
When it came to their own professional challenges for next year, 38 percent of respondents said that ‘recruiting, keeping and developing the best people’ is their greatest concern. A high figure compared to 21 percent that selected either ‘meeting customer expectations’ or ‘pressure to achieve short term results’ in 2017; concerns which might be expected to be highest on their agendas. It suggests that astute business leaders understand the need for a fully-engaged workforce to enable growth.
However, in response to how well equipped their people were to meeting the business challenges, only 9 percent of bosses say they were ‘ready for anything’, 18 percent say they ‘aren’t doing enough’ for them and the remaining 73 percent said somewhat vaguely, they are ‘doing work in some areas’. These are worrying figures given their self-proclaimed priority for developing talent.
Les Brookes CEO of Oliver Wight says: “This is a big concern for organisations. It’s a massive contradiction, which has the potential to be hugely damaging for businesses.”
He continues: “One of the biggest issues is that leaders are not committed to transforming their businesses and therefore are not setting ambition high enough; the focus is just on improving processes rather than driving growth in revenues and margin. It’s not actually about the level of financial investment required to change, it’s about the emotional commitment at the top. Sustainable change only happens when commitment moves from the head to the heart”, claims Brookes.
The survey also reveals that only 6 percent of those surveyed claim that sustainability for their business improvement programmes are set into their induction programmes. “You are at your weakest when you take on new people,” says Brookes. “You have to introduce them to the concepts the minute they start with your organisation, otherwise sustainable improvement is almost certain to fail.”
The Oliver Wight Conference and Class A Awards Dinner was held at the Sheraton Hotel, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, on the 11th and 12th April. The two-day event included interactive Oliver Wight workshops, networking sessions and inspirational business transformation presentations from adidas Group, Saint-Gobain Weber and Amgen Breda. The Awards’ after dinner speaker was French Paralympic biathlon gold medalist, Anne Floriet.