December 10

by Richard McMullan

I read a 'motivational' post recently on LinkedIn telling people "you're not a machine, your best will be different every day and that's ok".

True and a great sentiment.


It came from someone whose job title is, I jest not,

"Head of Workforce Optimisation"

Doesn't quite ring true, does it?

A motivational post from someone whose job, by definition, is to "get as much advantage or benefit from the workforce as they can."

I don't know the person, but, as their post was liked by someone whose judgment I trust 100%, I'd be prepared to bet good money they're a good person to work with and for.

I can't imagine they're responsible for the job title, so who's the bright spark that came up with it?

And what were they thinking?

Maybe, the MD's intentions were good when they created the role.

Maybe they were thinking…  "I want someone to help our people be the best they can every day. I want someone to take away all the bad stuff that holds people back. I want to create a company where our people can operate at their highest level."

But then it all seems to have gone wrong.

A bit like how I imagine the board discussion about renaming Royal Mail to Consignia went down 🙄

"What do we call this role?"

"Well, we want them to get the best from things … that's like ... optimise, isn't it?

"Ooh, that's a great word. Let's go with that."

"What are they optimising - the people, the processes, the systems, the team, or the organisational structure?"

"All of them."

"But that's too much for a job title. We need something shorter, punchier."

"What about workforce? That sort of captures it, doesn't it?"

"That sounds great - Head of Workforce Optimisation it is."

Cue self-congratulatory smiles and nods all around. And a demotivating job title is created.

Why, for the love of all that's good and sensible, didn't someone put their head above the parapet and ask "Are you sure this is a good idea?"

Because I can't think of anything that says "we care about you deeply, dear employee" LESS than creating a role called Head of Workforce Optimisation.

Maybe someone did put their head above the parapet but they got shot down (which is even worse).

But it seems that no one thought through the consequences (or maybe they did and don't give a flying f…)

The message in all this?

Think carefully about the unintended consequences of what you're doing. 

Get your team to challenge you, to ask questions.

Then listen.

Listen very carefully.

Listen to more than their words... What are they not saying? What's their tone of voice saying? What's the look on their face saying? What's their body language saying?

Then fix it.

Look, I get it, sometimes you can't have those conversations with people in your business.

They've got a vested interest and won't tell you the truth.

They're worried about their position or what their peers will think if they speak up.

That's where you need external help.

Which is what I do for my clients. 

I'm their sounding board. I question their answers (to help them get better answers).

I share what's worked well for me running businesses, and the mistakes I've made so they don't have to make them too!  

I tell them the truth (nicely, but without sugar-coating it) so they don't fall prey to the Emperor's (or Empress's) Cloths Syndrome.

The end result for them? They make better decisions, get better results, and minimise the risk of unintended consequences.

So, if you own a business doing over £500k pa, and want to explore if I can help you do the same, drop me an email to

IF you're not sure what type of advisor / mentor you need ... AND ... you want a proven process for selecting the right one for you so you get better results ... AND you want to avoid wasting time and money on the wrong advisor... THEN start by downloading my free Guide to Choosing The Right Advisor HERE

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