I tend to live in two worlds – technology and people.
Building your business with the systems of technology tends to go pretty fast. Much of this is about getting clarity on process and how information and transactions should move. You can always go faster and more efficiently, especially with the rate of innovation month by month with software vendors.
On the other hand, culture – the system of people – goes pretty slow. People are indeed creatures of habit. Moving the pieces has to be done very carefully and with an eye on the goal.
But solving the people challenge is not a one time thing. It is a continuous management process.
Here are some overarching ways to set up good culture. The benefit and challenge is that it is hard to change once installed. This works in your favor because you get repeatability for your efforts and commitment.
1. Don’t be cheap. The market for talent has a price. There are people that are commodities and are priced as such. For just a little more money, you tend to get much higher ROI. The cost of a bad hire extends far behind any salary or retainer.
2. Recognize the difference between Creatives and Supporters. People have a core nature. It’s your job as a manager to identify it and put people in the role that allows them to thrive. Creatives like the white sheet of paper and freedom. Free them to do so. Supporters like routine and predictability. You have to make sure their technology systems are all set up and tested. People are either one or the other. Choose wisely.
3. Build systems not overhead. Every piece of automation and efficiency you put in means less people required. Adding headcount is a way of masking bigger issues. You have to manage benefits, complaints, non-performance, etc. while trying to get the manual output of a person. Consider every technology system a part of your headcount. It’s an employee that doesn’t have to be managed.
4. Use metrics sensibly. There is a large move spurred on by big data to analyze. You need to pick key performance indicators (KPI’s) but also balance it with intuition. Surface metrics that you care about and see if they matter to you and your employee. If there is not visibility then you have no facts to have an agreement around performance and success. Pick carefully and use them sensibly. People are so inattentive that when you start to highlight a metric, they will game the system and start to move the metric. It’s human nature.
5. Compliment right behavior. Look for when people are doing things the way you envision. Then immediately and precisely provide praise. It’s not flattery. It’s specific commendation. This reinforces behaviors that you are looking for. Of course, you need to be clear about what you are looking for.
6. Treat people like adults, not children. If you have to put in a lot of constraints – time a person can leave, their absence and presence, what a person works on every minute of the day – then this disenfranchises people. Your talent has choice today, and they will use it if you treat them like children. Better to have a relationship based on trust. And if you can’t trust a person, then you likely hired badly. People closest to the work see things in high fidelity. Allow them to solve problems you may not even be aware of.
We are all a part of this hypercompetitive environment that demands leaner and sensible management of talent. How you find talent and provide guidance so they can thrive will either propel you to bigger things or hold you back altogether.
Where do you find challenges?