The inconvenient truth about immigration

With the migrant crisis in Europe continuing, and leaders debating about what is to be done, it has been stated recently, by the UN, that the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide will “far surpass” a record 60 million a year. This issue is not going to go away. It is important to ask, therefore, how can we begin to think about this issue relationally?

The phrase ‘no reward without responsibility, no profit without participation’ is one you may have heard in the context of a relational answer to capitalism, but it’s equally apt for immigration. After all, a free market for labour is a core principle of capitalism.

As a society, we are quite happy to accept ‘the brightest and the best’ migrants – those who fill a skills gap, pay for tuition, create jobs or otherwise offer clear economic advantages to us, their host country. The NHS can only function due to its huge number of migrant healthcare professionals. These often come from countries whose own healthcare systems are badly understaffed and underfunded (Malawi being a prime example).

Though we collect the rewards of immigration, we are not so interested in accepting its responsibilities. We are reluctant to welcome those who might prove to be a financial burden in any way. As a culture, we are consumeristic about immigration, as we are about almost everything else: it must work for us.

The national narrative, in the UK, around immigration is of a group of people who come to our country expecting something for nothing. That’s not an accurate picture, but there’s an awkward and ironic truth hidden in that statement: our approach to immigration is one of attracting those who will benefit us, without considering the other side of the coin.

By Michael Schluter

Why let mission-critical become mission-crisis?

Any time-management guru will tell you to distinguish between the urgent and the important. In practice, non-urgent but important tasks get shouted down by the ‘Do it Now’ category of urgent importance. There are, after all, plenty of these on the table for most organisations. The result is that non-urgent issues that should be carefully planned for, simmer away until at some point they drift into the urgent importance camp and get attention.

The mission-critical activities are apparently obvious: hitting the quarterly earnings forecasts, staying within the quarterly budgets, achieving the performance targets. Shareholders are told that the relationship with this or that stakeholder is mission-critical. As employees we hear leaders saying, “Our staff are our most important asset.” As customers we see organisations appoint Client Relationship Managers and we experience an inexhaustible flow of requests to understand our preferences.

And yet our hunch is that relationship is not an important priority for most companies. We see the customer relationship, the employee relationship, the supplier relationship or whichever relationship neglected up to the point it becomes critical. The news is full of banks, hospitals and global businesses that have delayed addressing their mission-critical relationships until they have ‘gone critical.’ For some leaders, it seems that relational issues are like global warming – we should do something about it someday, but if it is going bad, it’s going bad slowly enough for other more urgent things to get our attention in the meantime.

It is true that relationships take time to build and they can also take time to ruin. There is a sense of momentum in relationships. Neglect acts as a decelerating force. At some point, that deceleration becomes acceleration away (e.g. losing a key client) and occasional attention will no longer counteract the change in direction.

Poor prioritisation can miss the fact that some things need to be done regularly. Monitoring relationships and investing in them is one of those regular tasks. If your organisation is not monitoring and investing in relationships, mission-critical connections will eventually get your attention when they are in crisis. But why wait that long? A company neglecting customer value will struggle to meet its earning forecasts. A manufacturer who is not investing in supplier relationships may find budgets spiralling. An organisation in the dark about its clients’ needs is unlikely to meet its performance targets.

There is no need to leave your critical relationships to chance and circumstance. Understand them and consciously build them.

This article was originally published by Renuma, one of our member organisations, and is republished here with their permission.