Once or twice a year, we hear or read about jobs moving overseas. Sometimes it is less than 100 while it is just as likely to be thousands. Constructing a plant or other building is often part of the deal. The reason for such action is usually lower costs or availability of talent.
Perhaps it is time to rethink such actions because they negatively impact the U.S. labor force and economics conditions. Leaders may want to consider actions that could solidify their corporate financial situation.
Other motivations of leaders could be:
- it’s been done for decades, so I can do it
- I like to visit country X so let’s get some business going there so I can visit
- The people in the US may have the skills but won’t be committed to me and my business
- It’s my business and I can do what I want!
Leaders may be able to ride out the uncomfortable ride created by their action to ship jobs away. However, the attitudes against such activity arechanging. Perhaps they need to reconsider what they’ve been doing. They may want to look at four areas: strategy, business development, technology and management issues.
One action that a leader can take in the strategy area is multiple reviews of the business model to determine where flaws might live. You can never predict the future, but you can follow your model better in the country you know best — the US. Another action is to make sure that you can identify and take strength from multiple business advantages. That might not be as easy to do in a country that is less known to you.
Economic change is constant everywhere. In the US, though, there is usually a swing that is more moderate that it can be in other places. I would also trust our expertise more than I would in a country that I’m less familiar with. A final thought in this area is that leaders must be more sensing with their price models. Analysis must be conducted and reviewed — by more than just the accounting and finance folks.
Business development is the second area where leaders could consider reviewing their approach. One step is to get out in front when a new competitor emerges. Getting out in front means reviewing different areas of the business to identify where change could be needed to compete better. This could include but not be limited to pricing structures, vendor relationships, customer service practices, revenue fluctuations and business development. A review of all projections in every aspect of the business ought to be considered.
The most important thing to remember when considering business development is that leaders should avoid panic attacks. It is important to be deliberate and thoughtful in any problem-solving activities.
A third area where leaders can consider actions is with technology. While it is true that lateness in the development of new software to fix a business problem is out of a leader’s control, other things are not. First of all, a leader should make sure all employees are up to date in technology skills. This would include being able to assist customers who lag in such skills. Make sure that technology purchases are as timely as they can possibly be. Never let technology expansion move too slowly. Also, in any technology assessment, prevent people from spending too much time in problem-analysis or problem-solving.
The final area for leaders to take action is a focus on management issues. While some leaders feel that they are experts, when it comes to saving jobs for Americans, the debate can be explosive in nature. I am just going to list the actions that I think leaders ought to focus on to make the people side of the business better:
- First of all, I think leaders need to use informed decision-making.
- Get people and their information highly involved.
- Circulate all information after the decision has been made.
As a leader, it is easy to ignore the constant call for more creativity and innovation. Focus on such matters does appear to be slowing down, so leaders need to build cultures that embrace innovation. This means, of course, that leaders must have in place all that is necessary for proper execution once an idea is operationalized.
Other leadership actions include building stronger teams and collaborative networks. Never assume that people are good team players. High-performance teams are trained to be that way. Closely aligned to the need for team and collaboration is the ability to work through chaos.
If leaders can get their organizations to create a copacetic environment so they won’t be throwing up their hands in frustration and shipping jobs overseas as the answer to chaos, then economic strength will become the sunshine over their organizations.
OK, leaders, when can you start? What other actions do you see to help keep jobs here in the US?
Robert C. Preziosi is a professor of management at the Huizenga School of Business, where he teaches leadership and HRM. He trains businesses and government agencies on aspects of leadership, creativity and critical thinking. He is an occasional blogger who can be reached at [email protected]. You can visit his website at TheLeadershipRoad.com.
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