Good results aren’t enough
Australia went to the polls on November 24th. The final standings in the lower house are yet to be declared (as of December 3rd), some seats being too close to call. But it was clear, by as early as 8:00 pm on election day, that the Australian Labor Party had won in a landslide, thereby ending the long tenure of the Liberal-National Coalition government headed by John Howard. This isn’t a political blog, so I’m not going to wade into potentially contentious debates on election issues. However, I’d like to draw your attention to one item which figured prominently in the lead up to the election: the strength of the economy . Now, conventional political wisdom deems that an incumbent government is never turfed out in good economic times. Yet, in this election, the ruling party was voted out (and emphatically so) despite having presided over a period of sustained economic growth.
Analysts and politicians, flummoxed by the electorate’s seeming obliviousness to economic issues, have attributed the loss to a host of reasons ranging from unpopularity of workplace reforms legislated by the erstwhile government to bad timing (yes, one pollie did offer that as an explanation). These and many other factors have played a part but an important reason, in my opinion, is that there was – and still is – a disconnect between the good economic news at the macro level (GDP, unemployment figures etc.) and the not-so-good news at the micro level (prices, household debt etc.). The results of the undoubtedly excellent “big-picture” performance of the economy, as nice as it looks on paper, hasn’t made people feel better off at a personal level.
This, in my usual circumlocutory fashion, brings me to my point: in any effort, good results mean nothing if people don’t get to share in them.
Managers of all shades and stripes are measured by the results they achieve – sales managers may be judged by their ability to meet and exceed sales targets, and project managers by the successes or failures of their projects. Regardless of what the goals may be, they’re rarely achieved by the managers’ own efforts. More likely, they’re a consequence of the coordinated work of a group – the sales or project team, as the case may be. It is important to remember this while the work is in progress, and also when it is done and the credits start to roll out. Acknowledge your team publicly, make them feel they’ve been a part of the effort and reward them adequately, else it may all come to nought.