Roland Dürre
Tuesday January 29th, 2013

Stress in Enterprises (A Case Study)

This morning, I heard on the Bayern-2 news that more than half of the German employees suffer from stress caused by their job. If you ask me, I would modify the statement: “caused, among other things, by their job“. As to the information itself, I believe it. Our government wants to do something about it. I find that a little on the humorous side. It sounds like another one of those nice statements of intent where there is actually no real possibility of change.

The message reminds me of something I experienced a short time ago.

One of my friends is a very intelligent, well-educated, integer, friendly, responsible and sustainably successful manager. In fact, he is one of those persons I would like to recruit for InterFace AG on the spot.

He is a very loyal employee in a German concern and has personnel responsibility. A year ago, the concern gave him a new task, so he took responsibility for a new area. It was an area where much had gone wrong, yet this area was rather important for the economic success of the enterprise.

He started with all the enthusiasm in the world, motivated the team, invested a huge amount of personal energy and managed to improve the most important business indexes – and thus the cost-return situation – in a most impressive way within one year.
But the concern is in a phase of change. Considering this situation, the numbers you get to read are quite good. But they are not good enough for the directors. Because the financial plans are ambitious. And the stock exchange has high standards.

Consequently, after one year, my friend is now being asked to reduce the team by three. He has no idea how to maintain what has been achieved, let alone how to continue in the same way with three less. Management, however, says: “all you have to do is put enough pressure on everyone, then they will somehow manage“. Personally, I would like to emphasize “somehow”.

Now he has to identify three “underperformers“. The rest will be done by the personnel department (HR for human resource).
Naturally, this causes stress for all parties concerned. Mind you, there is no doubt that there are more prudent ways towards success. There is a high probability that the path the enterprise decided upon will be detrimental in the long run. You can easily come up with reasons for this (provided you can ever give reasons for anything that relates to the future). But more often than not, cost reduction through personnel reduction is considered to have “no alternatives”.
And I am happy that I am “my own entrepreneur“.

(Translated by EG)

This is a true story. I will not give you details, such as the concern, the task and other particulars. My friend would be made to suffer if this kind of information were to go public.

4 Kommentare zu “Stress in Enterprises (A Case Study)”

  1. Hans Bonfigt (Tuesday January 29th, 2013)

    Einer meiner alten Deutschlehrer, Willi Tröster, verebte mir vor mehr als 30 Jahren etwas für mich elementar wichtiges:

    “Seine Sprache offenbart den Menschen”

    Das gilt auch für Unternehmen.

    Wenn Neu-Dummsprech wie “Underperformer” gepflegt wird, dann ist
    das ein ganz sicheres Indiz für einen Ramschladen, der, unabhängig von
    seiner Größe, nie zu einer eigenen Kultur und Identität gefunden hat.

    Solche Läden meide ich übrigens auch als Auftragnehmer wie der Teufel
    das Weihwasser.

    Wenn der positive Streß in der täglichen Konfrontation mit den gemeinsamen
    Zielen von Kunde und Firma in den Hintergrund tritt gegenüber dem Streß
    im eigenen Unternehmen, dann läuft etwas grundlegend falsch.

    Für alle.

    Leider bevorzugen frische Hochschulabsolventen, für mivh völlig unver-
    ständlicherweise, genau solche Bumsläden.

    Für Sie, Roland, doch nur positiv:
    Werben Sie den Mann ab, da tun Sie dem “Konzern” auch noch einen
    Gefallen, weil schon ein Drittel des umderperformer squeeze-out erledigt

  2. Chris Wood (Thursday January 31st, 2013)

    If this man so good, he should refuse to comply, until he is (half) convinced that the policy of the bosses is reasonable. If he sees it as nonsense, he should resign.

  3. rd (Saturday February 2nd, 2013)

    Lieber Chris, genau das habe ich vor kurzem in einem Vortrag gesagt. Nach dem Motto:”Love it, change it or leave it”. Bin dann aber sehr nachdenklich geworden. Es gibt auch Dinge wie Loyalität und Verantwortung, Vielleicht ist es doch sehr egoistisch, einfach davon zu laufen. Bedürfnis nach Sicherheit mag auch eine Rolle spielen. Und nicht zuletzt dürften viele Menschen gar keine Alternative zu haben. Also: “Leicht gesagt, aber schwer zu tun.”

  4. Chris Wood (Wednesday February 13th, 2013)

    I see no need for loyalty to bosses who try to enforce silly decisions. If nobody follows them, they will be replaced, (eventually by cleverer ones). And if one passes silly decisions down, this shows real lack of responsibility. I always tried to get this right.
    Of course the boss may well be better able to see the wider picture, so one must suppress vague doubts, and also give her the chance to explain.
    In Europe, there is always an alternative. I know people who have for instance become a nun, or lived for ages on social security, or started a two-man company. They have all lived worthwhile lives, (although the nun died early after a heart attack).

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