Friday, 24 February 2012

Is Depression Costing Your Business? Probably!

The cost to UK business alone of poor mental health management is in the region of £25 billion per year (Centre for Mental Health, UK);

Depression is soon set to become the second most common cause of disability globally, after heart disease (World Health Organisation)

One in four adults will suffer from a mental health problem in a given year and the majority of these people will suffer depression (British Office of National Statistics)

(Global Business Magazine, February 2012)

And guess what? The most significant impact on workforce stress and depression is the way work is organised and managed! The latest findings on workplace depression suggest that the solution is to ensure that people

  • Are able to see how their output makes a valuable contribution to the organisation.
  • Are allowed as much variety as possible in the tasks they carry out, the speed at which they work, the way in which they work and even the place in which they work if possible.
  • Receive regular performance feedback – repeated studies have shown that uncertainty about performance is a major stress factor.
  • Are given ownership of their responsibilities.
  • Are provided with suitable opportunities for learning and problem-solving

In short, workplaces that have [open] communication and that allow their employees greater flexibility and control have fewer instances of depression.

Hardly rocket science! But despite manager-talk, few organisations get anywhere near approaching such a climate. Most are so interpersonally dysfunctional (mad) that they could hardly be better designed and operated to intentionally produce depression and anxiety.

The secret is to transform the context: the members’ shared unconscious and conscious assumptions about the way the organisation functions.

So how do we do that? The best time to do it is when the organisation is in crisis. The current global economic climate offers many exceptional opportunities. However, most such opportunities are squandered with conventional restructure, cost cutting, and consequent reinforcement of what’s bad about the way we typically organise and communicate.

The best way to do it is to engage in widely inclusive strategic planning and execution along lines advocated by

· Denning(2010) The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century (available on Kindle from Amazon USA for NZ$18)

· Hamel (2011) Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment (Management Innovation Exchange Video)

· Kim and Mauborgne (2005) Blue Ocean Strategy (available on Kindle from Amazon USA for NZ$11)

· Sinek(2010) How Great Leaders Inspire Action (TED Video)

· Weick and Sutcliffe (2007) Managing the unexpected: Resilient Performance in and Age of Uncertainty (available on Kindle from Amazon USA for NZ$18)

All write about strategy for organisational transformation.

These aren’t “tool boxes” for managers to apply to the managed. The transformation begins with managers’ open commitment to first transform their own behaviour, despite the perceived risks of loss of authority and chaos. Most managers fail at this first hurdle.

To succeed they’ll need the full support of their board of directors and accountability, with education and encouragement, to a coach skilled in such transformational process. That way they can learn experientially - the fastest most effective way - to lead the transformation process.

The benefits: market leadership, unimagined high levels of client and employee satisfaction, amazing technical innovation, reduced costs, higher profits.

The most powerful determinant of NZ business success today is all in the mind.


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