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All Business Issues Are People Issues, All Of The Time

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Saturday, July 15, 2017

An organization is made up of products, deliverables, policies, procedures, processes, and a thousand other components. But each of these components depends on the people associated with them to work properly. Behind every successful outcome in a business is a person or people who contributed in various ways to this outcome.

So, if you get people who are experienced and highly skilled at their jobs to do these things well, you're fine, right?

Not so easy. Getting people who are skilled at delivering in the areas their company needs is only half of the issue.

The path from skilled employee to the desired outcome is not paved by compensation alone. It's easy for us to treat people like machines and assume that if they are good at something and we pay them to do what they're good at doing, things will work out perfectly. But people aren't machines. They're people.

If you input a code or command into a sophisticated software or an automation machine, you will get the desired output most of the time. A software or automation process doesn't have very many needs. It simply needs commands to produce an outcome. But this sequence of input-output doesn't work with a human being with thoughts, desires, dreams, emotions, and needs. And when you don't lead a person according to these variables, this inhibits their productivity and drive regardless of their skills.

To give a hypothetical example, consider a software engineer (we'll use the name "Carolyn") at a rising architecture firm. Carolyn is highly skilled and carries a rare and unique mix of experience and training. For years she's delivered stellar results, and her value to the firm goes without question. The firm's leadership has, in turn, rewarded her with both increasing autonomy and a more-than-competitive increase in salary each year.

But she's beginning to notice a change in the company. Her voice is starting to go unheard as newer, younger engineers with similar degrees of skill are making their way up the ranks. The autonomy she has provides her great freedom to complete projects in the ways she sees best, but this has also been accompanied by a lack of communication between herself and the leadership team. Increasingly she feels taken for granted as nothing more than a reliable workhorse, and the leadership team hasn't sought to draw out her own leadership and mentoring skills for the younger engineers, choosing instead to handle things themselves. When she makes suggestions about how things could be improved within the company, she's met with cursory nods and respectful-but-hollow acknowledgments.

In short, Carolyn is taken seriously for her results and skills, but not taken seriously as a person. Over time, her engagement begins to wane and her productivity diminishes. She loses her motivation and passion, and she starts to invest less and less into her work without fully realizing it. This inevitably leads to diminished business results over time, and the organization suffers. The leadership has no idea why things have taken a poor turn; they blame it on market conditions and lack of training. And, of course, they don't consult Carolyn about it. One day over lunch with a friend, Carolyn decides it's time to move on, and the next week she turns in her two-weeks' notice.

This organization failed to realize that all business issues are people issues. Ultimately, each aspect of the business flows from the people behind it, and people need more than money to produce results.

What are some business issues that are affecting your organization? Have you considered that there could be issues behind these issues, such as a disengaged employee, someone who doesn't feel appreciated or acknowledged, or someone who needs better communication with the leadership team?

All business issues are people issues, all of the time.

About Jared Lafitte:

As a nationally recognized speaker, consultant, and personal coach, Jared helps individuals and organizations build cultures that drive engagement, productivity and profitability. Upon forming an educational company in 2008, he's logged nearly 10,000 hours of teaching and coaching. He's spoken to over 10,000 people across the country since 2009, including work with Fortune 500 organizations and helping a legal team toward a U.S. Supreme Court victory in 2014. He's written for major online publications and academic journals including Forbes, Training Magazine, Relevant Magazine, The Business Journals and more on a variety of leadership topics. He was recently recognized by Forbes Magazine as a member of the Forbes Coaches Council. He's currently completing his first book on corporate culture, Culture is the New Money, due 2017.

Jared will be a presenter at the 2017 Annual Conference and Career Fair. Register now to attend his session live where he will discuss culture change and people development. 

Twitter: @jaredlafitte


Tags:  Business  leadership  management  NAWMBA  NAWMBA2017 

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