Unemployment rates won’t be coming down. Not until business has a lot more confidence in signs of economic recovery. Business is skittish at best, outright scared if they would fully admit it. Employers have settled into stretching employees to the max with multiple job responsibilities. No hiring a replacement for Fred who just retired – Alice will take on Fred’s job.
I’m working with
a high-tech manufacturer right now that embodies this pervasive trend. The environmental manager now has safety and
health responsibilities (EHS). That’s always been pretty common in industry but
he was already wearing several other hats.
And the facilities manager? He is
also the company’s security systems manager, their emergency preparedness and response
manager, one of the corporate EHS managers and now has been put in charge of a special
product quality initiative. This is not a 20 person machine shop owned and
managed by bungling Uncle Waldo. This is the 400 person headquarters of a major
high-tech manufacturer with multiple plants here and overseas.
I see evidence of the
multiple hat scenarios every day and this past year it has greatly affected my
consulting assignments. Right now I have at least four clients who have given
me contracts to help them with tasks but I can’t get started (i.e., I can’t
start the work and therefore cannot invoice the client for work done). Because
my points of contact have been told not to spend the (already authorized) funds? No. Because my points of contact are too busy
to take on one more project, one more task, even if I am to do all the work. “I
just can’t have you come now – I can’t put any attention to what you’re going
to do. I already have too many projects on my plate. How about coming in August? No, wait, October
would be better. Or maybe we could begin to get started in December.” So how do you think my 2012 business plan is
looking these days? And I’m just one little cog….