Wannabe corporate bosses sucking the hope out of us all

WE are all being robbed by corporate Australia, but it's not just money they're stealing  ... it's hope.

Australia is largely run by "career" executives who are sucking the life out of the economy and society itself.

Most of them have little skill other than adding up and subtracting, because we've somehow bought the argument that the immediate numbers are all that really matter.

But you know what? People matter, too. So does society.

Once upon a time it was different. People worked their way through an industry before taking key jobs - now they don't.

They just move from job to job - pillaging, toecutting, bleeding society dry.

They do a degree in this or that, then another one, save companies some money on pencils (which invariably are unusable), get promoted, come up with an "idea" (which often fails long-term) get promoted again, get a reputation and end up running the show.

And it's all done with fast talking, serial nodding and alleged expertise in the dark arts of "marketing" or "financial services" - vague titles that the equally incompetent executives above them are too insecure to ask about.

The concept of understanding what makes  an industry tick, the craft, the skill, the nuances, the target market, is largely lost for the sake of a big, homogenous porridge of what will become long-term shareholder losses.

Downsizing, streamlining, productivity advances and "better nett results going forward" are all key expressions they use  to rob not only employees, but the paying public, of quality.

The first port of call for slowing businesses now is letting people go.

Day after day we hear of redundancies - Holden, Qantas, health services, in manufacturing, power generation, media, retail, restaurants, tourism,  ...  insert your industry here.

But the short-term gains of the corporate powerbrokers will  eventually be revealed for what they are.

If we continue cutting staff to save a dollar here and there, eventually there will be no money to be spent in the community - and when we finally decide it was a mistake, the skillset required to rebuild will no longer exist. And the quality of what is being produced now will diminish rapidly, delivering an easily pre-determined result.

The other factor of this is hope. In conversations with people from all manner of industries I hear of the axe of redundancy hanging threateningly over heads.

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Let me tell you, I'm 51 and the spectre of redundancy is a frightening thought. It means I won't enter a two-year contract with my internet provider because I don't know if I'll be able to honour it.

It means I won't take a loan for a new car because I may never be able to pay it back.

Living in uncertainty is soul-destroying and - hear this corporate boffins (it's your language) - unproductive.

It leaves people angry at companies, gossiping among themselves, resentful and, eventually, unmotivated.

And if it keeps going on, it will continue to stop people from spending or having any faith in business at all.

I recently heard of a small business that was in a fair amount of strife. The big deals weren't coming, the work was piecemeal and not particularly lucrative.

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The owner was a man with a depth of experience in every area of his trade. He knew the cycles, he knew how it would pan out ... and he knew he had good people working for him.

Instead of swinging the axe, he kept his people on, sold his house, protected his brand and awaited the turn. Apparently it took a couple of years but he's now extremely successful again.

Come the reversal, he was in the marketplace, well-positioned, ready to reap the rewards. He has a dedicated and now fiercely loyal workforce.

But such a change is not likely in mainstream Australia. Why? Because we love immediate money. Yep, it's the root of all kinds of evil.


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