Vote! But Not For Jobs

Every eligible voter should exercise that right come November, but nobody should vote for a political candidate based on a promised jobs program. Delegating up has become the scourge of US businesses in recent years and this year’s election confirms we have now reached the point where this plague has now moved from the CEO’s office to POTUS.
No elected official can cure the epidemic at the root of little to no job growth yet politicians willingly accept the mantle of these profound problems delegated to them by a workforce that eschews accountability they demand in others.  I further submit “The Asian Jobs Flu” of low cost offshore labor isn’t nearly as influential as it’s made out to be.  No, the problem is mostly attributable to what have become normal behaviors in the workplace, a problem I can illustrate from this one of many examples I can cite from my experience in business turnarounds and transformations.
I last saw him 9 months ago when he controlled a multi-million dollar budget for a large company, we were on opposite sides of a negotiating table. At that time he was totally dismissive of my showing him over a decade of data proving that the entire industry I was working in was both without prosperity or profitability and he had little interest in statistics that verified the rate of raw materials inflation was putting the industry in greater peril if it couldn’t generate higher price levels.  Back then it was a scheduled meeting in his well apportioned office where he repeated these lines “that’s not my problem, if you want our business you figure it out”, “I already have several of your competitors willing to go 35% lower than what I currently pay”, and “I will get the best price and then demand the service.” My well-researched and supported analysis was of such little interest to him he refused to even take a copy and he “didn’t have time for a long meeting”…he just needed our best price.
This time we bumped into each other on a Manhattan street corner where I must admit I didn’t recognize him at first and had a bit of trouble recalling his name. And this time he really wanted to spend time with me, as he opened the conversation with “can you believe those bastards fired me after all those years as a senior manager?  After all I’ve contributed over the years?  What jerks, they don’t know anything about my profession, they replaced me with a couple of 20 or 30 something year old kids!”  Because his primary reason for treating me like a close associate was to help him land a new job, I couldn’t resist trying to explain to him that the very attitude he took with me in early 2012 was behind the reason for him losing his job.  True to form, he didn’t see the irony here and became somewhat agitated when I tried to equate our two encounters.
“Not my problem” has become so pervasive it has created chronic knee jerk syndrome. 
Prior to that early 2012 meeting senior people from the company I was working with advised me to not waste my time putting together analysis with a chorus of “nobody wants to hear that stuff.” Of course, after that meeting it was a round of “I told you so” and “so are we going to cut our price?” But what my coworkers were on to speaks louder volumes than just commercial print: everything from national elections to how everyday business decisions are made has been debased by making problem-solving a zero-sum game and by steering clear of topics that will make people think or otherwise feel uncomfortable.

It’s always been easy for management to blame a lazy workforce or for workers to point the finger of blame at out-of-touch management for inadequate business results. Blaming the Indians or Chinese even easier.  But politicians are always the easiest targets, especially because they seem to relish the opportunity to become so. Job stability and growth is a function of competitiveness; companies, indeed entire industries, simply can’t sustain competitive edges. 

If you’re looking for the candidate to vote for find the one who insists on better education, demands accountability in business where it belongs, insists on higher standards rather than relaxing them in everything from finance to energy. Better yet, if you’re looking for a job or have one you want to grow in vote for yourself by doing these very things at your place of work.

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