Earlier in my career, I worked with an executive who always reinforced the message, “What gets measured, gets done.” It is a deceptively simple statement because it has profound implications.
For example, if you measure only processes, your people will focus on the process to the exclusion of all else. Additionally, measuring only processes can lead to developing employees who feel:
You might say to yourself, “So what! Once I am getting the results I need then there is no need to worry about balance”. My assertion in response to this claim is that yes, you might be attaining your desired results, but with strong leadership and an inspired team, you can achieve quantum results! Especially in challenging times.
Creativity and innovation are important cultural characteristics because they show up when employees are inspired and engaged. Inspired, competent employees are not only able to improve results, they can and will innovate solutions in difficult economic climate, and sustain, or even turbo-charge the performance of your business.
Traditional wisdom used in some hierarchical cultures is based on the belief that persons should be considered for promotions because of their above-average understanding of the process and their production of the best results. While these results driven employees may be your best performers based on their technical skills and knowledge of the job, when promoted, these persons who were previously top performers at a lower level, are incapable of motivating and engaging their respective teams to do the same.
Polices and procedural standards create safety, predictability, and opportunities for enhanced control. Oftentimes these standards are treated as rules or inflexible structures designed to maintain uniformity. While standards are quite useful and necessary for success, Tanmay Vorga once stated, “Processes have to be flexible since each project is unique, each client is unique and hence process requirements should be unique too. Processes should act as a tool and help people perform better.”
From a problem resolution perspective, managers can fall into the trap of perceiving challenges primarily from a process perspective and not see the contributing people issues clearly enough. Many managers learn how to break down a systemic problem but when people are involved, so are emotions and emotions can impede the resolution process related to people issues.
How do you bring people and processes into balance?
To bring about balance in work environments where the emphasis is on processes and policies, you can enhance your people leadership in the following ways:
- Strike a balance between structure and flexibility. Too many organizations focus on one or the other. Structure focuses on processes and policies, and flexibility allows your colleagues to impact those policies and procedures in productive ways.
- Build and support trust both inter- and intra-departmentally
- Communicate by connecting with colleagues. Evolved listening skills and empathy are needed to balance a directive driven culture.
- Show members of your team you care about their well-being just as much as (or more than) you care about yours. When employees feel voiceless or used, it is hard to achieve balance. On the other hand, when giving employees their voice for the first time, it is important that they learn how to share their views respectfully, from a place of balance.
- Avoid creating power dynamics by being disciplined about taking steps to eliminate favoritism, taking sides and eradicating ruthless behavior.
- Continuously develop your team so they can grow with the company maintaining the balance between the evolving needs of the organization and the skills of the team.
- Implement an effective reward and recognition program. Remember, what gets measured and I will add, rewarded, gets done.
- Facilitate an employee engagement survey and take steps to close priority gaps.
- Develop team members who are self-aware and capable of self-regulation.
As a leader, in executing your daily duties it is important to be attuned to when you are too focused on processes so you can proactively recalibrate your actions. Balancing is a continuous exercise and over time, mastery comes from your attunement to the team, commitment to balance, and your capacity to listen and respond. Adam Khan once said, “You continually find your balance, you don't achieve balance. Even if you were able to find your perfect balance and hold it, life itself will throw you off balance continually. It is constant adjustment.”
Yvette Bethel is CEO of Organizational Soul, an Organizational Effectiveness Consulting and Leadership Development company. She is a Consultant, Trainer, Speaker, Facilitator, Executive Coach, Author, and Emotional Intelligence Practitioner. If you are interested Yvette's ideas on other leadership topics you can sign up for her newsletter at www.yvettebethel.com or you can listen to her podcast at Evolve Podcast.