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Forget Process, Focus on People

Making people happy at work is critical to allowing them to be both productive and creative, the key ingredients to producing high quality products and services.

Peter Leeson

on 7 August 2018

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Transcript of Forget Process, Focus on People

Before anything, people need a living wage, allowing them to not have to worry about lodging, food or managing daily costs. This does not mean "minimum wage": a living wage is one that allows you to have the possibility of paying your taxes, your rent or mortgage and feeding your family reasonably well with only one (full-time) job. In the UK, the average living wage is approximately 30% higher than the legal minimum wage.
Perhaps this was enough for some people in emerging markets thirty years ago, but today, you need to offer a lot more than just the wages...
The work environment includes the need to balance the quiet conditions workers need to be able to think and do their work with the facilities to communicate easily with their co-workers. It also includes the tools, the space, the lighting that will allow them to feel reasonably comfortable when at work. Surprisingly, a significant number of organizations still place knowledge workers in noisy, busy, open-plan spaces. There is a lot of published data demonstrating that these spaces cost between 20 and 25% of the productivity of the people in them; I have not seen any data so far explaining the benefits...
Freedom is the ability to do what you believe is best, considering the current circumstances. Complete freedom creates a number of problems, however placing the freedom within a framework established by all the things mentioned here, will allow creativity without anarchy.
Trust is the expression of believing in the fundamental honesty of the people around you. In the work environment, we need to encourage team members to trust their management, and management to trust their employees.
I want to deliver
quality products
and services

To be happy, people need trust
Giving the workforce a voice is critical in ensuring that they are able to tell management what is really going on, good and bad. This means that they need to be able to speak up without fear that they will be punished for stepping out of line, or seeing the messenger being shot
Workers need to be provided with the resources they need to do the work, including tools, time, staff, budget, etc. The lack of resources only serves to create frustration. The key here is to identify what are reasonable resources, what is needed to be able to do the job efficiently, rather than insisting on having all the latest gadgets.
People need stability. This means that they understand they will not loose their job once the current tasklist is completed and trust that the organization will continue to function in the future. Continuous reorganizations, changes in strategy or vision do not allow people to work efficiently as they continuously as they wonder what next month's flavour is going to be.
What do I need
to provide?
Tools and
The basics for Quality
Happy people are
must work with the tools
to support the people
are there to facilitate the processes and support the people
World Class Quality
Staff need to have the skills required to do their work. This means understanding what are the issues that stop them from performing more effectively and providing them with necessary training and coaching. If the work being requested is an intellectual or creative job, it becomes even more important to acknowledge the intelligence of the people doing the work and ensuring that their skills are kept up to date in a changing world
Continuity means that the management objectives are clearly communicated and focused on the real long-term business objectives. Staff need to ensure that the management will not change improvement programme frequently because they are visibly focused on real results. This is best performed through clearly communicated policies in which the purpose, vision, mission and objectives of the organization are visibly related to the management's expectations in terms of tasks and results.
A plan is necessary to allow the affected individuals understand the key elements of the work that needs to be performed; this includes who is doing what, by when it needs to be done, what are the inter-relations and dependencies between different tasks, what resources are available or expected, etc.
The methodology is the structured approach that allows everyone to understand why they are doing things and help in identifying rapidly and what to do when something unexpected happens - the methodology is the combination of tools, processes, practices, checklists, controls, principles, policies, etc. that govern the work from an organizational level. So this is where the process does come into the picture; however, I maintain that the organization should not focus on the process, but on the people: the process is only a tool to support and guide them. Particularly important, the methodology needs to be there to ensure that those important tasks that may get forgotten are performed appropriately.
To be happy, people need to able to live reasonably
To be happy, people need to have the means to do their work
To be happy, people need to understand what they are being asked to do
To be happy, people need to know what's happening next
To be happy, people need to trust things are not going to change too soon
To be happy, people need to understand who is doing what
To be happy, people need to have a way of doing what they are asked to do
To be happy, people must be able to see the product of their work
To be happy, people must believe in the future of their organization
Sharing management's vision for the organization is critical to believing it has a future and a future for which the people concerned are willing to make the necessary efforts; they can understand how the tasks they are being asked to perform fit into the greater plan for the growth (or survival) of the organization.
more productive
more creative
To be happy, people must have a work environment that allows them to do what is expected of them
To be happy, people need a leader in whom they can believe
Leadership is the willingness to go where you want others to go, combined with the ability to encourage others to believe and follow where you are going. This is different from management in which you are not required to go, only to tell others to do so...
To be happy, people need a team that will support them, who will compensate for their weaknesses and rely on their strengths
A team is the collaboration between the people with whom you need to work, the common focus on a shared vision and the mutual reliance on each other, creating synergy in their work. The team spirit should include colleagues, management, customers and suppliers. Having a team means that there is open communication and sharing information with all relevant partners
To be happy, people need a support and guidance in their tasks
Support means having someone trustworthy and objective, someone who will assist in identifying the most appropriate way of solving a problem, who will inform about issues and risks encountered by others in trying to perform a task. Someone who will assist in communicating needs and weaknesses in practices and will do what is necessary to promote a culture focused on delivering quality
To be happy, people need some level of control over the work they are doing
To be happy, people need to be able to express themselves without fear
To be happy, people need recognition for what they do well
Many organizations appear to expect perfection from all staff members. This means they are quick to punish those who make mistakes and forget about those who do not. This goes even further when management recognizes and rewards those who manage to solve the issues they created for their own team!
Visibility on the product, understanding what the final product looks like is critical in ensuring that the people involved are able to take pride in their work and know that they have done a good job. If you expect your team members to produce high-quality products, you need to make sure that they have the possibility of taking pride in their work. This means they have to see how their work fits into the global picture, how it is being used to improve the life of the users, understanding its impact on the world. If they feel they are no more than a link in the chain, doing a repetitive task that could be done by anyone, they will have no motivation to do better.
Control means having the authority and the responsibility to stop when things are going wrong, or to identify better ways of performing practices. They need to be able to know that no one else is changing the product with which they are working or destroying their work while they are busy
To be happy, people need feed-back
Feed-back involves telling people how well or how badly they are doing. You cannot let team members continue working for weeks or months without informing them of the quality of the work they are doing and telling them how well they are doing. The idea of a yearly review -- meaning staff needs to wait 12 months before being told that they are not performing to standards -- is rarely acceptable.
To be happy, people need a useful level of stress
Eustress is different from "distress"; eustress is the positive stress you feel when preparing something pleasant or working towards a result with eagerness -- for instance, when you are planning a surprise-party or a wedding. Eustress allows the team members to expand their abilities, stretch their limits and improve their personal capabilities in order to become better, more satisfied with their own achievements. This allows them to take pride in their work, therefore improving the quality of the work performed.
To be happy, people need freedom in a framework
To be productive and creative, people need to be happy in their work!
Let's make them happy!
There is nothing new here
Abraham Maslow's seminal work on humanistic psychology describes the hierarchy of needs through which we need to pass before we can achieve our true desire of self-actualization (achieving our full potential)
include breathing food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion
include security of body, employment, resources, morality, family, health, property
include friendship, family, sexual intimacy
include self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others
include morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem-solving, lack of prejudice, accceptance of facts
and, in the work environment
Shared Vision
Freedom in
Positive Stress
Are you happy?
©2011-2014 Q:PIT Ltd
©2011 Q:PIT Ltd
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom


Peter Leeson
Twitter: @PeterLeeson
Problem Solving
Acceptance of Facts
Lack of Prejudice
To be happy, people need to know that they are respected
Respect for the people in the team means accepting them based on their work. Respect is the absence of prejudice based on gender, age, sexual identity, religion, ethnicity or other aspect independent of the results produced
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