How to make a million jobs

This week I was delighted to support and sponsor the launch of a provocative and insightful book – “How to make a million jobs” by Colin Crooks.  You can order a copy here. Colin is a social entrepreneur who, in his book, challenges all of us to think differently about unemployment and its causes.  His solutions are radical but not unrealistic and are based on Colin’s experiences as well as persuasive, independent evidence.

As a leadership specialist, working with corporates, professional associations and universities, it is not immediately clear why I should decide to sponsor such a book.

The main reason is that I share with the book’s author a concern about people and their development.  I also believe in the capacity for people to change their attitude and behaviour and to learn new skills.

The book is full of real stories about people, young and old, who had given up all hope of finding work.  They were poorly educated, lacked confidence and had few social or employability skills.  When these people were offered an opportunity to work and when this was accompanied by some support and encouragement they responded positively.  Many went on to better jobs and have not looked back.

The book, and my own experience, demonstrates this: that when people at work are supported and developed in the right way they tend to be good employees.  They become committed, engaged, interested and keen to learn.   They gain in confidence and in ambition.   Of course there are always exceptions.  But, in general, we know this simple statement of cause and effect to be true.

The problem is that so many employers do not have the commitment or the capability to provide the support required.  The challenge for government, policy makers and anyone with an interest in this area, is to change the attitude of employers.   We need to be better at getting employers to truly appreciate and realise the business benefits of developing their people. Then we need employers to be better at motivating, supporting and engaging their staff.  Employers should be asking whether they and their managers are managing people effectively and providing good role models to all staff.

The people in Colin’s book were fortunate to be taken on by a good employer with good people management skills.  Sadly that’s not true of all employers, and many people entering a new job do not get the support and development they need.

Developing people and changing their behaviour requires patience, and this isn’t easy in the current climate where many companies are driven by an obsession with short term results.  But understanding that link: between managing people effectively and building a successful business is fundamental to good leadership.  It informs everything I do and it is at the heart of Colin Crooks’ book.

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