Refocus on People
Focusing on projects motivates leaders to pressure people to work harder, faster, and smarter.
Enhance productivity by addressing human need.
Speaking into needs:
People need security. Insecure people expend energy searching for security. Insecurity creates indecisiveness. Security enables movement.
Speak into need by:
- Explaining the big picture.
- Clarifying expectations.
- Minimizing surprises.
- Sharing information before change.
People need to contribute. When people feel they’re making meaningful contributions they are less likely to be jealous of others and more likely to enjoy their job.
Speak into their need by explaining how their contribution enhances:
- The project.
- The organization.
- The community.
Daniel Pink’s observations show us people need:
Refocusing on people by speaking into human need energizes hearts, enables sustained productivity, and enhances job satisfaction.
Systems don’t complete projects, people do.
How can leaders speak into human needs in ways that enable and enhance productivity?
Nice one, Dan. It hits me that this applies to leading yourself as well. The best leaders I know are secure in who they are and are trying to contribute something. It stands to reason that if we’re dealing with our own insecurities and selfishness we’ll be able to help others with their needs as well!
Great application. Thanks for extending these ideas and thanks for all you do for the leadership community.
My boss, Cara, at Best Buy had this down. She would come into the office and spend time asking about her team’s day, their weekend, their family, etc and listen to their responses.
She knew she was taking the temperature (mood) of her team. Anything she felt needed to be addresssed would be discussed with the shfit manager later in the morning, in private.
No matter what, her team felt they belonged. Belonging created a sense of security because they knew She cared.
I used this to teach my mentor team how to respond and treat others by showing them her example.
You brought a great story that drives an important idea home. You remind me to act with intention. Expressing interest or concern is one thing. Taking the corporate temperature is another.
Best to you,
Alan is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. You can read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/alan
I consider it very important, as a leader, to keep yourself updated with your employees’ status. Sometimes, personal problems can influence one’s performance at work, and despite all the effort to avoid it, it’s often not enough. Problems follow you from home to work, it’s not possible to turn a switch and solve everything.
Sometimes, merely talking about a problem is enough to get some peace.
Thanks for your comment.
Your point is important. We can’t compartmentalize everything. However we can help people find strength and encouragement.
Another great post. I read it, thought “yeah all of that is true” and then struggled to find something to say.
1) In an additional nuance/counterpoint, I would add that I have worked for someone who aggressively moved forward from a place of insecurity. Doing that definitely bypasses the “people part” at best and destroys it at worst.
2) From the standpoint of “speaking into human need,” we live that at our house every day as I find myself feeling somewhat resourceless when my 6th grader complains about not liking school, not understanding why worksheet after worksheet has to be done, etc. While I know that mantra is said by many an 11 year old boy, I do wish something in that learning environment would speak to his adventurous, curious, movement-loving heart. The desire to “belong” and “be a part” starts young.
Your security/expectations connection rang true here Dan. Concrete, real expectations, with standards when applicable.
Not ‘do your best’ or general customer service mottos…what does your work look like?
How would someone from the outside know you are doing an average job…a good job…a great job…and above and beyond job? Can each person tell you those distinctions? Do you know those distinctions? If you do, don’t assume everyone else knows too, that is not information to be garnered and controlled by leadership. Do employees know when you are doing an average job, good job, etc?
Yet another reminder that people are not interruptions, they’re the job and whatever takes you from them is an interruption. My boss has always challenged me to see the projects on my desk as secondary, and the people who work for me as the critical part of my job – he says my greatest value is as a thought leader and that the more time I spend building relationships and having conversations, the more opportunities I have to impact thoughts, to paint the vision, to light the fires. With a military background I tend to be pretty results-oriented, so this is a paradigm shift, but I have to admit I enjoy it more, and it’s working.
What a great story! Thanks for powerfully driving the point home.
I’m going to use your sentence.. “People are not interruptions, they’re the job…”
Yep me to, I like that. The military provides some great leadership transformation stories. Go for it Greg
Hi Dan. Simple but true. As a leader if you don’t focus on people. Don’t turn up to work. There’s no point. 🙂
I agree the people need security and surprises creates uncertainty. When people are acknowledged for their contribution, this creates positive cohesions and commitment towards achieving higher goals. They feel emotionally connected with the objectives. On the other hand, when others are acknowledged for your achievement or contribution, people feel dejected, de motivated, depressed and their commitment and passion towards goal keep on decreasing. And when this becomes practices, talented people leave the organization and credit stealer stay. It is true to most of the organizations, why people leave the organizations. one may argue that there could be other factors like pay, allowance but cultural practices play major role in encouraging or discouraging attrition in the organizations.
When we take the three needs of Abraham Mashlow, it seems that it is the component of “IDENTITY”. That means people need identity in different form at different stage of their lives. I believe that respect and trust is the part of identity and the organizations that embrace respect and trust have the most powerful surviving tool even in odd circumstances. Why because human capital can creates anything and everything with its commitment and passion.
Thanks, Dan – this article is a reaffirmation of my personal management tenet – take care of your people/team’s needs to take care of your business objectives. A happy, secure and enthusiastic team is the single most important ingredient for the success of a project/company. It is surprising how often leaders prefer a “divide and rule” policy as opposed to a collaborative success approach.
Like Geoff said, leaders who are secure in themselves will rise to the top. I totally agree with this point.
Leaders who are a wreck, well, it’s hard to take them seriously.
Thanks for a great post, Dan. I saw/heard a presentation by Dan Pink regarding his book, “A Whole New Mind,” a while back…. very interesting speaker! Certainly could hold the crowd! As a supervisor, I take the time to talk to my team members each day and sincerely find out how they are doing and what is on their plates for the day. They know that I am always available to/for them and create a secure work environment.
I agree Dan. Having worked in transitioning environments as a project manager, the ability to stay present and align the teams focus while also creating the vision of outcome was critical to achieving success. Challenging at times, but achievable and the results speak for themselves. Thanks for articulating it so well.
And although some may consider Maslow’s Hierarchy debunk, I still use it as a framework to understanding behavior in many realms. There may be new terminology today to describe thinking at the various levels of the hierarchy but the elements of the levels are still applicable.
It sounds like you are really skilled at helping others through transition. thanks for sharing your insights and experience.
I think a lot of leaders can forget that its all about the people. But we need to remember that it’s because of the people that things get done. So we must understand human behavior and focus on our team. Thank you for posting, I really enjoyed reading it.
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I don’t know, Dan. When I bypass good project management for the good of the people on my team, to increase motivation, I end up working 3 weekends in a row to meet a deadline (like I am right now).
The method does help keep the harmony. There always seems to be a bigger boss who chooses deadline over quality and harmony.
It’s not an easy call. When I lean too much to people over process, everyone on the team loses.
I’m living it, Cynthia
Don’t think of it as an either/or think of it as both/and. Find a way to do both. Hold people accountable but help them see the benefits of accountability. Instead of just telling people WHAT to do, tell them why its important. Then follow-up to see how they’re doing. Leadership is about relationships.
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I agree that projects and delivery are about people – not systems and processes. I blogged under the title “Rise of the machines? – Not on my watch!”
I know one should not just cut and paste so I won’t but have inlcuded a blog link if anyone is interested. I will also add a snippet here:-
I have often described what I do as human chess,
I get the right people,
in the right place,
to do the right thing,
at the right time,
in the right way.
It is amazing how clear, concise and invaluable your messages can be!!! Thank you very much for sharing…
Before needing belonging people need to feel safe and respected.
I’m glad to see the line “systems don’t complete projects, people do” this is what is missing from so much of our workplace cultures for far too long.