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Business: Its All About The People

A discussion of people utilization in the current business climate.

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Business: Its All About The People

  1. 1. Walsh Enterprises Business & Financial Advisors Huntington Beach, California USA http://www.awalsh.us walshal1@aol.com (714) 465-2749 Business It’s All About the People Reprint of a blog posted February 2009 at www.walshal.wordpress.com
  2. 2. One of the characteristics of “civilization” is that we become more & more specialized. People get compartmentalized into their areas of expertise; which are becoming narrower & narrower. I believe that we’re now carrying it too far in many of our businesses. The advent of powerful IT tools has accelerated this process. Great Attention and money is now put into systems, processes, and infrastructure. These tools can do wonders for a business, but ultimately it’s the people who represent the greatest asset - yet they often become slaves to the very systems & processes that are supposed to make them More effective. People make the decisions. People guide the business. People interact with the customers, vendors, and other outsiders. People breathe life into the business. People protect and nurture the business. People bring diversity, insight, uniqueness, and creativity. People bring success.
  3. 3. We’ve created a business climate where many people are restricted from, or are afraid of, making decisions or taking risks of any nature. Management doesn’t share the strategic vision, so employees can’t clearly understand what the end-goal is. People don’t understand the total business because they’re compartmentalized into narrow functions. The first goal of any manager or executive should be to ensure that they have the right people in place - and train or replace those who can’t or won’t perform. They should then define clear goals that those employees can comprehend and be measured against. Finally, they should give those employees latitude in deciding how to approach their work; managing by results against the defined goals. Of course, lower-level employees require more guidance, but even they need a little latitude.
  4. 4. Unfortunately, we’re gravitating toward treating everyone like low-level clerical employees. • Opportunities are lost everyday because employees at all levels don’t feel they have any freedom of choice or support. • Bright employees who might make great leaders are pigeon-holed into narrow jobs where they get few learning opportunities or chances to branch out & shine. • So many rules & regulations are sometimes put in place that they have the effect of choking peoples’ ability to function. • Decisions are driven up into a smaller & smaller group, or are made by committee (a poor approach in most circumstances, but one that many people adopt to spread risk & blame away from themselves). • No two people approach work in exactly the same way, yet we try to impose vanilla “every-man” rules. Individuals need some latitude to put their personal “style” into their work. • Too much of senior management’s attention is focused toward risk- reduction. Risk is inherent in any business, and employees need some latitude if the business hopes to capitalize on opportunities.
  5. 5. Implementing a proper culture involves delegating. This is one of the key areas where entrepreneurs fail. Businesses grow to the point where the owner can’t control everything anymore, creating the need for additional people. Many owners just can’t bring themselves to let go & delegate; turning themselves into decision choke-points that increasingly strangle their businesses. I once worked for such a man who carried it to extreme. In his obsessive zeal to control all decisions in a $200 Million company, he reduced all of his employees (managers -and- staff) to the role of clerks. His fear of letting go was so strong that he was blind to the adverse effects which resulted. He didn’t know what to do with decision-makers, and feared them. Of course, one of the more negative effects was his inability to attract or hang on to the more talented people. All he has left are the people who can’t leave because of age or other factors. Their talent is fading from lack of use, and they’re all frustrated. Needless to say, the culture doesn’t encourage excellence. His business will survive, but it could be so much more. It will always be held down to a level that he’s comfortable micro-managing.
  6. 6. Don’t get so caught up in the rules, and regulations, and systems, and processes, and information regurgitation, and controls, and risk- reduction that you lose sight of what really drives your business: Your people!