Most people want to get better year on year. They want to improve in a certain area, leverage what they have done well or embarked on a new challenge. Many want to spend their time much more wisely and stick to important priorities. And some just want this year to simply be better than last year across the board.
For any change to be made we need to think differently.
People management is something we, as leaders need to think differently about. This area of business can be a constant source of frustration for leaders. An enormous amount of time is injected, sometimes with little benefit. People now seem to want more of you without the return of favour. And whilst you’re feeling the pressure and spending countless hours working in and on the business, your team just seems to be puddling along, declaring they are busy but without the runs showing on the board.
What’s wrong with this picture?
In general, your people want to do a great job. When they came into the business, they were motivated and ready to contribute. They wanted to feel like they were part of something bigger. They were sold on the promise made at their interview. But something hasn’t aligned. Either they misunderstood you or something has changed dramatically in the business. So they stay quiet, confused, do what they need to and go home.
I was speaking with a business owner recently who had somehow been given the role of the ‘people manager’ in the business. Something she didn’t feel she was skilled at but was better at than the other leaders so the role gradually became hers. This role was taking up at least 2 days of her week, which is an enormous amount of time. This then put significant pressure on her to deliver in the key areas she was expected to. She was getting super frustrated that she seemed to be repeating herself. She felt she was coaching and training her team but nothing was changing. The results were stagnant and people were still complaining they weren’t feeling valued. She was recruiting new people but felt she didn’t have the time that was required to spend with them. She felt she was losing a battle that had no end in sight.
But, as she was talking it through, she realized what she had been doing was simply reacting to what was happening. She was reacting to issues, to results that weren’t there, to people’s grievances and to the management of her team. If she had a proactive plan in place it would’ve made things so much easier for her and ensured she was getting a much better return on her investment for the time she was spending in this area.
As Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Once she changed her thinking around this, the solution was evident.
This is a common problem in the small and medium business space, particularly when there isn’t an HR presence in the business. Leaders can become very reactive to what’s happening rather than having a proactive people and culture framework in place. By having this framework you can be sure to have the right foundations to support your people and establish expectations and accountability, that there is alignment across the people and culture space of your business then providing the platform for growth.
So what do I mean by a people and culture framework?
- Acquisition and Induction process;
- Performance Review and Probation processes;
- Retention & engagement strategies;
- Culture building strategies; and
- Building capability and growth strategies
Having this in place can assist in aligning the expectations of the business and the team from the outset and when any change is implemented. It encourages transparency, accountability, and growth. It’s simply getting the basics right.
So if this is an area you would like to improve in your business this year, perhaps you need to change your thinking around this also. You may need to refine some of the areas of your people management and ensure you have a proactive structure in place rather than a reactive one to ensure you are getting the best from your team and enabling them to grow, in turn, providing growth for your business.