As professionals working in the field of business development, we are already used to an endless stream of excuses. They say that a good businessperson can sell themselves. They not only complete their work, but they can also sell their finished product to the outside world. The more intense the events happening in the world, the easier it is for these supposedly clever managers to do so. And there is no doubt that things are moving all around the world. However, the big search for and selling of excuses carries a serious danger: there is less and less actual work being done, which in turn means less and less actual results.
Managers who seem clever
As a manager, people quickly learn that it is not enough to simply do their work. It is a basic requirement, even if “work” is not defined all that clearly. It can even be difficult to define for a single manager. Some find the sales process easier; others find it harder. And some are simply incapable of doing it. Especially in the case of multinationals, diplomacy plays an important role in progress. And if we are discussing diplomacy, we can also talk about “finding results”, which is often none other than playing around with figures. If the reports contain the expected numbers, the position is secure. It is obvious that some pressure will always be put on them by the headquarters in terms of expectations, but since, in many cases, the upper management is not familiar with the local conditions, this just turns into “playing boss” in most places. Of course, if this is the case, then the response will be similar as well. Managers stop focusing on results and instead look for the answers most sought after by their bosses. Meanwhile, expectations completely lose their point as they are unrealistic even during “peacetime”, under normal market conditions. If a manager wants to keep their position, all they have to do is point at the circumstances and shrug from time to time. Naturally, this does not mean that everyone at the headquarters will be pleased with these defence mechanisms, but what can they realistically do about them? The manager can be replaced every once in a while, but what if they were right? What if they replace the exact manager who was pointing out the truth, and then the situation becomes even worse?
The emergence of COVID-19 first brought fear – and in many cases, dread – for businesses. On the one hand, due to its effects on private life, on the other hand, because of the economic recession. Many were scared and continue to be scared to this day of losing their jobs. Then in the autumn of 2020, when the experts started talking about a second wave, but business life had to be restarted, managers began experiencing that staying locked in at home as a solution was not going to work in the long term since if they became forgettable, they would be in big trouble. So everyone started getting some work done again. Results could not have been expected, of course, since the second, then the third wave made it impossible to perform. At least, this was the message in many cases, which the headquarters could not question since that would have been inhumane. However, the thing is, true managers were expected to find a solution and a way out of the situation as early as last fall. Although this was not forced too hard at most companies, the expectation was a given. Those who were still hiding behind the pandemic situation in the spring were obviously not viewed kindly. It is encoded in human nature to try and spin every bad thing as an advantage, and due to home office work and the economic recession, the primary beneficiaries of the newly acceptable lack of results were managers. However, it should not be forgotten that although diplomacy will take you far, it is necessary to be able to produce results regardless of the circumstances.
There are already whispers of a fourth wave in business circles, the implied meaning of which is that no one should expect any results anytime soon. Taking advantage of a tragedy is already not a nice thing to do, but in this case, it is silly as well. If new strategies do not produce results, then this new wave will wash away many managers; there are no doubts about it.