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Posts Tagged ‘British economy

As a relative “noobe” in the UK, I’ve been frustrated in my search for data about the economy. It is incredibly difficult to get information from the National Statistics Office that in the US and NZ can be slurped online in seconds.

There also seems to be little vision about where we are going.

Repeating complaints and doomsday scenarios doesn’t help, I know. But asking the right questions does.

Yesterday, IT writer, Philip Virgo posted a summary of his lobbying at each of the Party congresses. I’ve reorganised his post below as a set of questions – using his words when they graphically describe the issue.

Questions about the future of work in the UK

  • Which are the industries of the future? [Which are they are, and how are developments in these industries consistently highlighted in the media?]
  • Which industries will have “integrated career paths”?
  • What would be consequences of not having industries with integrated career paths? What is the alternative?
  • Will “home made” careers do? Or, will our children be condemned to a “professional backwater . . . no longer part of the mainstream route to the top – unless they emigrate and don’t come back”?
  • Will our children and grandchildren be “condemned to surf the cybercrud on the fringes of the global information society – as the UK becomes the electronic equivalent of Cannery Row – a post-industrial poor relation to the economic powerhouses of Asia”?

What will attract industries of the future – particularly in IT and information-management?

  • A competitive communications infra-structure and access to world-class broadband
  • Regulatory simplicity, clarity and predictability
  • Fiscal certainty [presumably for companies and employees]
  • Removing planning controls designed for the 50’s and replacing them with controls we need for the information age.
  • “Workforce skills programmes” that develop a critical mass of skilled people in the industries that interest us

Virgo describes the migration of IT businesses out of the UK – Maxwell’s newspapers, Google and Yahoo. Isle of Man, Switzerland and Singapore seem to be attractive destinations largely because they undertake to defend data privacy from interference from the US. If that is so, then a foreign policy component of future planning is also clear.

These questions seem to be a good way to start thinking about life and prospects in the UK in the future

What do you think of them?

Being a ‘noobe’ here, I’d be interested in your thoughts on the right questions to ask . . . and the likely answers.

I love being a work psychologist

I became a work psychologist because I love learning about organizations and what people do. What makes a business tick?

It’s only Monday and here are five picks of whom I have encountered this week (and it is only Tuesday!)

Geographer who locates supermarkets (location, location, location)

Valuer of cars in Russia (great when it freezes and plenty of work until the insurance market matures)

Broker of Nepalese art (deep relationships with artists = supply chain management)

Furniture retailer in Sudan (steady as she goes – continuity and cost leadership)

Retail banker in Sri Lanka (get that customer served – be reliable and dependable)

What I do (my core competence, if you like)

HR always seems so obvious to people in the business.  If it works well, it becomes part of the “taken for granted” set of value assumptions in the underwater part of the cultural iceberg.

Non-formally trained business people take for granted what they do, twice over.  What they seems natural, it also seems childish not to know.

The fun of being a work psychologist is drawing out the assumptions business people have held for so long that they haven’t mentioned them or talked about them to anyone for a long time.

What is it like to have a conversation with a work psychologist?

I am having fun. What do business people gain from talking to me?

  • My interest is a mirror where they can see how their business runs.  They enjoy the experience and are reassured and steadied as they work in other areas that may be shaky.
  • Talking aloud to an appreciative listener allows them to put into words what they have been acting on, but not thinking or saying.  Often we don’t realize what we think until we say it aloud in the presence of someone else.
  • The principles of what they are doing are now out in the open where they can inspect them, consider them, and consider how relevant they will be in the future.  The valuer in Russia, for example, has trained valuers in distant city so he can take advantage of the current boom in valuing assets.  He also knows the boom will peak in a few years.  He is perfectly aware of both facts but may allow the situation to drift if he does not say what he knows aloud in front of someone else.

Why a psychologist and not someone else?

A business person talks to many people – their banker or their associates at the pub.  Why and how are we different?

  • We draw out the assumptions about HR.
  • We are trained to challenge gently, and reveal those long taken for granted assumptions that operate like the underwater part of an iceberg – essential to the visible business but deadly if forgotten.  A friend or banker is concentrating on what they need to hear, not on what the business person needs to hear themselves say.
  • We deliberately restate assumptions clearly so they are on the table for discussion and sharing with other people – new employees, bankers, and people we are talking to during times of change.  A business person talking to a psychologist in any setting, say a conference, a training room, an interview, should come away feeling invigorated.  They should feel clearer about what is important to them and confident that the important things are being attended to.

And it is only Tuesday!  This is a great job.  People are endlessly fascinating when they are talking about a job they love and do well.

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Auckland waterfront at night

 

Image via Wikipedia

During the last general election in New Zealand, the National Party (conservatives) made a spirited move for power by offering sizeable tax cuts. So keen we all were to find out our share, we crashed the Nats’ site within hours of their announcement.

My share was considerable: NZD2000 or in purchasing power parity terms, twice what I spent on clothes per year. The Nats didn’t win though. And the big question was why not? We were obviously interested. And the amount was significant.

So why didn’t the Nats win? And is this story relevant to the UK as we climb out of the credit crunch and the threatened recession in a slow recovery?

People don’t like the bashing of people who are unemployed or on the benefit

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. There but for the grace of God, etc. etc. Both NZ and UK are individualistic, masculine cultures (each to his own) but both countries dislike power differentials and huge disparities of wealth. We knew full well what would pay for those tax cuts and in my case, NZD2K was not enough to persuade me to take bread off the table of someone who is unemployed.

Voters understand that our economic policy requires a million or so people to be out-of-work

Voters are not economics experts but most of us know the basics. We know that if everyone has a job, inflation would take off. Both NZ and UK have policies of keeping inflation down to around 3%. Our economic prosperity depends on several percentage of the population being out-of-work.  So how can we take a blaming tone?

We have new attitudes to work and employment

Jane McGonigal, alternate reality games designer described games as “happiness engines”. And she asks an important question: why don’t we design work that is as compelling, engaging and as fun as games?

We do know how to design jobs that are enjoyable. Indeed the basic techniques have been in the textbooks on management and psychology for over 30 years. And games designers use these principles every day.

We want work that is so much fun we have to pay people NOT to work and to go home and play games! That is the doable demand from the citizenry of the 21st century!

Can politicians rise to the challenge of work that is more fun than games?

I think the first step is a social media solution: set up happiness surveys on the internet. When we feel so moved, we log on and say “I love this job”.

Then we will know which sectors are getting the thumbs-up from their employees, and as the saying goes, what gets measured gets done!

And we can worry about how much to pay people to stay at home!

What do you think?

Hat-tip to Sirona recruitment consultants  who inspired this post.

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.

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