Ricardo Semler is the President of Semco S/A, a company based in Brazil. He is also the author of the bestselling books Maverick and The Seven-Day Weekend, which offer fresh alternatives to “business as usual” – advising businesses on how they can significantly improve performance by restructuring relationships with their people.
Speaking at this year’s Discovery Invest Leadership Summit, Semler explained the need for business owners to keep asking themselves why they are doing certain things in their businesses. “For example, some of the questions we’ve asked in the past include: Why do we all dress the same? Why do we all work the same hours? Why do we need a head office?”
Semler then recommends asking the question again, and then again. For example, perhaps the answer to the question of why employees need to work the same hours is because it’s a way of ensuring that everyone is working.
Consecutive questions would then explore whether buying people’s time really is a way of ensuring they are working…and whether there could be better ways that would allow employees to lead their lives in a way that makes sense to them.
“At our companies, we negotiate work hours, salaries, leave and retirement with our employees and have had less than 2% annual staff turnover in 31 years,” Semler says.
“The problem with carrying on doing things as we did them in the past is that the world has changed dramatically. We all look at what others have done, read their books and listen to their stories; yet the principles being taught at management schools are all based on strategies that are no longer valid,” says Semler.
Semler explains a further issue with those learnings is that we set ourselves up under the illusion that we are in control. “This economy and the way we are doing things is not right; it’s going to fall apart.
“There must be a better way of doing things. There is a better way; and I hope you discover some of these for yourself in your business.”