Opinion – A small business owner’s guide to keeping staff happy | Guardian Small Business Network | The Guardian – John Gelmini

Statue of Niccolò Macchiavelli (Serie

Statue of Niccolò Macchiavelli (Serie “the Great Florentines”), by Lorenzo Bartolini, Uffizi gallery, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr Alf and the Guardian are both right in that small businesses can by virtue of their size be more like families. Business owners and founding directors can know every worker by name, in a way that one never could be in a large business of the kind I used to spend my earlier corporate life in, such as GE, Burton Group Financial Services and Lincoln National.

Setting clear expectations is much easier if your staff know you and you know them. In larger organisations, politics and game-playing worthy of Machiavelli on steroids can make X or Y proposition or initiative and their promoters go from stellar status to dud status in a blink of an eye.

Similarly decision-making in smaller companies can be much faster in that in larger ones there are many layers of decision making before the detailed financial evaluations that Dr Alf used to undertake as easily as breathing, are undertaken.

In larger companies, people who are lazy and unproductive have opportunities to hide which in a smaller company would be more or less impossible due to the close proximity of the boss and co-workers.

It is for these reasons that the future hope for new job-growth must be with small businesses. Large businesses will increasing turn to technology, outsourcing and offshoring. Large businesses are also a haven for the black arts of Niccolo Machiavelli.

John Gelmini

Opinion – U.K. warms to idea of Japanese-style office naps | The Japan Times – John Gelmini

I  agree with Dr Alf that work time must be effective and that Japanese style naps are a good idea. To that I would add the use of Lean practices and Japanese style continuous improvement.

However, the UK’s style of work differs from the world of 40 years ago. This was an age when Dr Alf could boast the thickest coating of snow on his car whilst working long hours. Also a time when Global Cooling was the fashion, BBC newsreaders wore bow ties and used received pronunciation, televisions had just 4 black and white channels and bank managers were middle aged men who wore 3 piece suits and could make lending decisions because they knew their customers.

UK worker productivity has never been very good, even going as far back as the 1850s, and even in the days of Dr Alf’s youth, we were losing whole industries like shipbuilding and car manufacturing to foreign competitors.

Today, UK worker productivity is 20th in the world ,and our state-education system, which was 1st in the world when Dr Alf was 10 years old, has slipped to 44th position, and is turning out people who cannot read, write, calculate and communicate in 1 case in 5. Under those conditions a lot of these people might just as well stay permanently napping because they are unfit for work of any kind. The rest are productive 32% of the time (public sector), and 48% of the time (private sector), which is 16% behind the average for the G7. For them, in between “power naps”, there perhaps needs to be the application to a certain part of their burgeoning anatomies that I can dimly remember from physics lessons as a schoolboy namely a bunsen-burner with the flame turned up to maximum intensity.

John Gelmini