What comes first? The people or the profits?

Posted November 6, 2008 in Communication, Latest News & Insights

Too often the answer to that question is “well, it’s the people until we take a hit on the profits, and then it’s the profits.”

The problem with most organizations that “talk the talk” about “our business is our people” is that when business is bad, the people message typically goes out the window.

At our recent PowerRoundtable session “Balancing People & Operations“, I started to think that one of the reasons people get dumped in tough times is because the people practices we preach are treated too much like the “icing on the cake” versus the main ingredient for driving success.

Integrating people policies into the fabric of your company isn’t difficult – as one of our attendees said, “it’s not rocket science” – but it does take discipline.  When I worked in management consulting, I saw new leaders embrace new processes and ideas, only to watch them get sidelined with budget cuts.  This creates a demotivational cycle and level of mistrust and cyniscism that’s difficult to dig yourself out from under.

Here are some ideas for for you on how to drive results without driving burn-out, courtesy of the PowerRoundtable participants:

Start with yourself… Ask if your own behaviour is balanced.  Are you aligning what you say and do with the value of people, even when you’re stressed and under the gun?

Communication and connection… Communication is critical, but it’s more than what you say, it’s how you say it. Trust is the cornerstone for engaging your team in driving ever increasing targets.  Make your communication forthright and meaningful; be consistent, be authentic and be empathetic.

Think integration… Rewards, values, behaviours, consequences and remuneration all need to be aligned.

Be courageous… Top performers who ignore the values shouldn’t get a free pass.  Make the tough calls on what will and won’t be tolerated and live your company values.

It starts with selection… Know what kind of talent you need to drive performance on your team.  Hire for that and be relentless in giving your people the tools they need to be successful.

Be as transparent as you can… People will understand the tough calls when they know the rationale behind the decisions.  Share what you can, and enlist your team in finding new and better ways to get the job done.

Develop yourself continuously… take time for self-development and reflection. Use networks, books, references, resources, mentors and coaches…don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Happy leading!


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