Moonlighting

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Cybil Shepherd and Bruce Willis had me enthralled weekly in the 80s as they superbly acted out their characters in the TV series Moonlighting.

I think it was about the same time that Bruce Willis did the song Under the Boardwalk, as a once-off, with his band as some celebrities are wont to do. But this is not why I am telling you this story.

I received an email from an Innerzelite last week, asking what management should do about staff moonlighting instead of working on their full time day time jobs.

Moonlighting staff. Difficult one. In the context of today’s business environment, survival is a common theme in many a company. There is an opportunity right now.

Before management goes off to the Matopos or Nyanga for a planning retreat, perhaps the divisional heads could consult their departmental staff for input before they finalise their presentations to their peers on the vexing challenge of survival.

I mentioned management buy in last week, but it is also imperative that staff do so for any new processes that management wants to instil in a company.

Everyone talks about leading by example, another cliché that oft gets repeated at many a seminar. How does one actually get to develop that mindset? It is one thing asking people to do it, it is quite another showing them the worldview that gets them there in the first place.

Well many years ago I was speaking to a group of students at Africa University as one of several presenters on a leadership programme when one of the other presenters, Alex, came out with something called “servant leadership”.

Interesting, I thought at the time. I came across the concept again years later at the Emerging Leaders programme that brought together the brightest Americans I have ever met and people from South Africa and Lesotho.

I was the only Zimbabwean in the group. As defined by the owner of the concept, Robert K Greenleaf, it is simply beautiful: “The servant leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve.

Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The best test is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

The pillars that make up the core values of your company and that held it in good stead from inception are not just there for framing at reception. The founders of your company had the ability to look 100 years down the road as opposed to the current generation that looks to the next payslip.

Management teams, while keeping a beady eye on the bottom line, must prefer to be clock builders as James Collins writes in Built to Last rather than just time tellers.

There, right there, is the challenge and it is possible in a very practical way to achieve this through a focused and disciplined internal cultural campaign. We achieved the very same thing at the Spar distribution centre in Harare. It can be replicated, with adjustments for context elsewhere. Give me a call.

One way to get staff buy in is to build goodwill with your staff. Take Stu Lennard’s advice for starters. “Do not catch people doing something wrong. Catch them doing something right.”

Staff will not follow some fancy campaign if management in practice are less than decent people who, frustrated by the last ten years, want results at any cost. There was a time when Spar lost twelve stores in a breakaway move to form their own group.

The then CEO stood up in front of all staff and promised that not a single staff member would be dismissed as a result of the loss of revenue. Staff remember these things. They are not always just loyal to the dollar.

Now human beings have mouths to feed, school fees and rent to pay. It stands to reason that when salaries do not match expenses, staff will abuse the company phone, fax, email and, worse, time, to try and make ends meet.

One way to try and overcome this — for it cannot be completely eradicated — is to keep staff busy with targets that require reporting at regular intervals. There is no point of setting up a reporting system and then failing to enforce it.

Allow staff to meet and make decisions at their level of operation accompanied by line supervisor oversight for quality control.

Develop an exciting change agenda. If you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting what you have always got.

When you plant the idea for incremental changes that add up to a quantum leap, you start an evolutionary process that makes staff say, “Let’s stick around to see where this is going.” Change must be progressive rather than sudden.

Evolution is better than revolution no matter how sexy the word revolution sounds. Even revolutionary new products go through long periods of testing in research and development before they are unleashed before an adoring public.

Innerzela requires that sometimes you take an external facilitator who is not afraid to tell it like it is and has no axes to grind than gather with the same group annually and rehash the same plan using different words. It is not about text books. It is about lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness and this is best done though people talking to people.

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