Sustainability by definition is the capacity to endure…
Let us take this global definition and apply it at a micro level within an organization and look specifically at the act of management. The number one reason why someone leaves their organization is not financial, but their manager, specifically the relationship between the employee and the manager that becomes corroded over time and eventually leaves the employee with the determination to leave. How sustainable is this?
When an employee leaves, there is a brain drain – a knowledge loss from the organization. The act of hiring is expensive and takes time to incorporate a new team member within the team. Also pre this process, if someone wants to leave, as a result of the employee / manager relationship, they become unmotivated, and this can spread within the team causing an opportunity cost to the teams effectiveness.
Management is a responsibility, not a right. Managers have to do many things on a day-to-day basis to get the most from their teams. But what is the goal of a manager? For me it is simple, to make others succeed. A manager does not achieve success on his or her own, the team does. Their goal is to create the operating environment that enables the team to be successful, both individually and collectively. They have to embrace and execute a number of key skills on a day-to-day basis. This includes delegating, coaching, leading, delivering, planning, dealing with conflict and managing it, communicating proactively, handling goals from above and below and prioritizing and organizing resources (human and physical). The list goes on, but it does emphasize the wide array of skills that they need to develop, without necessary formal training and guidance.
What happens when someone is given the responsibility of being a manager but is not able to develop these skill sets to make their team successful. They are unable to deliver results and can create damage to the fabric of the team. How many times have you seen a manager be elevated to the position of a manager, because they have risen to the top of their technical abilities, and in order to keep them, they are given a management path which in essence is a career in its own right.
To apply sustainable business practices, we need to train, mentor and develop managers in how to manage and lead their team, regardless of whether this is a local or global team. To deliver organizational sustainability, we need individuals, teams, managers and leaders to develop their staff so that they can endure and contribute to not their own individual success, but also that of their organization. For me, sustainable business management equals good management practices.