Much talk without action is a nullity

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The Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Patrick Chinamasa

THE OBSERVED truth, phenomenon and common trend is that human beings by nature love to talk with little or no action at all.

ZIMBABWE ECONOMICS SOCIETY COLUMN

People plan, make resolutions yet they end up being high sounding nothing promises and plans. In doing so they forget that one day they would be held accountable for what they said and promised to do. Whilst this is common with politicians, the sad reality is that even management and employees in organisations seem to have copied and perfected the art of talking without much action.

Although it is commonplace, it is unacceptable and unforgivable. Making promises and not fulfilling them is just as good as lying.

Politicians because of their affinity to win elections make unattainable promises, some which are so obscure and lack intelligence. Companies are also running the same risk of much talk with little or no action. This appears to be the passive slogan of the majority of management.

They cannot say it publicly but surely it is the situation obtaining on the ground. Management are known to always want to be locked in meetings.

The meetings do not have a defined starting time and ending time.

They can go over the midnight or early morning. In the end, little is realised from such long talks. If anything, it will be more follow up meetings and further meetings, but nothing tangible to show as an achievement from such meetings.

According to research, the main cause of too much talk with little or no action is a failure to come up with a clear, concise and well-articulated strategic plan. In some cases it is failure to follow up and implement the strategic plan road map. Lack of a strategic plan guide and failure to implement the strategy are the main reasons companies fail to succeed.

As we gratefully evacuate a year that was marked more by words than action and good performance, we need to welcome that blessed pause in our hearts of a new season, with new plans, new expectations and revived hope to perform. Companies need to go back to the plans they came up with in January, assess and evaluate how they have performed. Check how they have performed against set targets and institute necessary measures to address gaps. Ultimately, they must emerge united with a shared vision to succeed and implement planned activities.

The foibles, squabbles, dogmatic battles and personal shortcomings of management and employees during the year provide some instructive examples of tactics to avoid when committing words to the public record. Lies have been peddled and engendived en masse to excite the majority in organisations. Government are the major culprits.

The Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Patrick Chinamasa correctly predicted that bonus payment for civil servants was not feasible. His statement was received with fierce criticism and name calling by the majority of politicians.

The Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Patrick Chinamasa

The Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Patrick Chinamasa

Of course, civil servants will have none of it because like any normal employee, bonus is something that they expect to cushion themselves against expenses that come up with the festive season, holiday and travelling expenses, preparations for the beginning of the year and the infamous January disease when the next pay date will be month end.

Unfortunately, the government through its authority structures denounced the statement, promised bonuses as usual and forced the minister of Finance & Economic Development to apologise. In all this, civil servants are interested in action. The talk does not matter, what matters is action.

Unfortunately, the undertow of lying amid the white heat of public questioning is often stronger than mere talk.

It must be remembered that words have the ability to convince and repel, and regardless of the outcome, they are etched in the public consciousness more deeply for being said when they are communicated.

Therefore what separates lies from the truth is action on communicated issues and promises. How many things have organisations promised their employees?

What sort of performance have employees pledged to their organisations? What actions, activities, tasks and duties did employees successfully perform and achieve?

What plans have politicians achieved in their manifesto, mandates and constitution since being elected to power? What policies and corporate governance issues have boards, commissions and committees achieved? These are the questions each and every employee, employer, board member, commissioner, management, cabinet minister, Member of Parliament and any person must ask.

The interesting thing about this issue of “less talk and more action” is that, it has become more prevalent as the demand for up-to-date information has intensified on organisational success and performance.

Leaders and managers worth their salt should strive to ensure for more action and that performance is assessed against fair and relevant measures on issues that really matter.

More and more action is required for organisations to succeed. It is not difficult to observe which organisations are more in much talk with little action or those in less talk and more action. Where results are good it shows that there is more action and where results are poor it shows that there is more talk with little or no action.

Nhamo Kwaramba is the principal executive consultant for Capacity Consultancy Group. He is a Leadership, Organisation Development, Management and Labour Relations expert.These New Perspectives articles are co-ordinated by Lovemore Kadenge, president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society (ZES). Email: kadenge.zes@gmail.com, Cell +263 772 382 852.

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