One of the best bits of advice my father gave me was that you should try to do yourself out of a job every 18 months. What he meant by this is that good employees look for ways to streamline what they do so that they become redundant. It is a self actualising mindset of wanting to improve things, grow and then take on the next challenge within your company.
However, after spending most of my career working in commercial roles one of the things I have observed is underlying resistance for people to look for efficiencies and challenge themselves to work outside their comfort zone. Being efficient and managing costs is a source of fear and insecurity and as such people either avoid it or expend energy defending themselves and what they do. We make excuses such as ‘costs is finance departments problem’, ‘I don’t understand my costs’, and ‘the system doesn’t give me the information I need’. Other times we defend ourselves by overstating risk, embedding excessive compliance and process requirements, or keeping busy on things that don’t make a difference to the core outcomes or strategic priorities of the business. In essence we seek to keep ourselves safe and we see cost efficiency as a threat.
This occurs at all levels in the business as I have seen senior executives who will avoid making tough decisions on cost efficiency until their hand is forced. However we eventually have our hand forced and the decision taken out of our hands. As we fall behind the efficiency curve we become uncompetitive or expensive and our stakeholders will demand change.
A clear choice. Be proactive, look for innovations, and seek out efficiencies. Alternatively avoid and defend, and wait for someone else to make the tough decisions for you.