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Oliver Wight EAME Blog

Only 9% of business leaders are doing enough to equip staff for the future

11 May 2016

At our recent Oliver Wight Conference, a poll revealed that while business leaders recognise people are the key to success, they are not doing enough to prepare their teams for future challenges.

We asked 80 business leaders from across 40 European organisations what their biggest challenge for 2017 would be, and 59% chose "growth".  This was ahead of other issues including "competition" (14%) and "economic slowdown" (10%).

When it came to their own professional challenges for next year, 38% of respondents said that ‘recruiting, keeping and developing the best people’ is their greatest concern. This was a high figure compared to 21% that selected either ‘meeting customer expectations’ or ‘pressure to achieve short term results’; concerns which we might have expected to be highest on their agendas. So this suggests that astute business leaders understand the need for a fully-engaged workforce to enable growth.

However, that said, in response to how well equipped their people were to meeting the business challenges, only 9% said they were ‘ready for anything’, 18% say they ‘aren’t doing enough’ for them and the remaining 73% said they are ‘doing work in some areas’. Worrying figures given the previous results that suggested a priority for developing talent.

Les Brookes, CEO, revealed the results at the end of the conference.  He commented that one of the biggest issues is that business leaders are not committed to transforming their business and therefore are not setting their ambition high enough.  The focus is on improving processes rather than driving growth in revenues or margin.  It's not actually about the 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. 

The survey also revealed that only 6% claim that sustainability for their business improvement programmes are set into their induction programmes.  To this Les commented that you are at your weakest when you take on new people and you have to introduce them to the concepts the minute they start with your organisation, otherwise sustainable improvement is almost certain to fail.