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The human element in organizations today.

"People are our most important product"

"We live by an open-door policy

in this organization"

Many organizations have similar slogans that appear in their media advertising campaigns or on corporate bulletin boards. It is one thing to have a corporate or business philosophy that reflects people. It is another thing to live it.

"I would pay more for the ability to handle people than for any other executive talent."

John D. Rockefeller

In the past some organizations have been successful in "Managing by force". This has changed dramatically in a relatively short period of time. We are now seeing more organizations managing by consent". This is not to imply that organizations or managers are attempting to run their operations like social agencies or allowing their employees the ultimate control over the operations. But it does imply that people would like to have more participation in determining what they do and how they do it. Some words are showing up more frequently to describe managers of the 1990's - mentors, coaches, facilitators and counsellors. How well managers are able to adapt may be an important determining factor in the success of organizations in this decade.

"Executives spend more time on managing people and making people decisions than on anything else - and they should. No other decisions are so long lasting in their consequences or so difficult to unmake."

Peter Drucker

If we are to encourage managers to include mentoring, coaching, facilitating and counselling in the process of managing, we must have them start with a thorough understanding of people. Initially themselves and then others. People are unique and special; there are not two people who are alike. Because of this they require different approaches. This understanding of people includes two key components - PERSONAL STYLE and MOTIVATION. Skilled managers quickly recognize both of these in their employees, and they manage them according to the employee's style and motivation. This sounds simple but it takes a great deal of practice. And this practice is an investment in the future.

Perhaps you have heard the common saying that "Opposites attract". Years of consulting and giving seminars in the motivational area has led me to the opposite conclusion "Likes attract", at least in a business sense. As a result of this, managers must be careful not to clone themselves when conducting recruitment campaigns. Managers must also be careful not to manage others as they would manage themselves or assume that others would respond in a similar way. This can set you up for some surprises.

Do unto others as they would

like to be treated

Eighty percent of managers today, who are unsuccessful in their positions, (and subsequently find themselves looking for work) are not there because they lack the knowledge, skills or intelligence to perform their work. They are there because they lack the interpersonal skills to listen, communicate and recognize style and motivational differences between themselves and others who matter in this world - other managers, employees, and customers. Usually this attitude extends far beyond work to include family and friends.

"People buy from us not so much because they understand our product or service as because they feel we understand them as people"

Dr. Hugh Russell

I don't believe that Dr. Russell was just speaking to salespeople when he made this statement. He was speaking to all of us. We like to feel that others appreciate and understand us for what we are, and that sometimes means appreciating and understanding different approaches and different styles of communication.

In our seminars I ask participants "How many of you, when you first became a manager, thought that one of your main responsibilities was to motivate your staff?" Managers, for the most part agree that this was one of their main responsibilities. Experience shows us that we have very little direct control over the motivation of others, therefore we cannot directly motivate other people. Ask yourself this question "Who motivates you?" Our seminar participants answer almost unanimously - "Myself". And that is absolutely right! Then what can managers do to motivate their staff? If they understand their employees well, they can place them in an environment where they will be self-motivated. This requires a very perceptive manager in understanding the different motivations of each employee and applying them appropriately.

"My most important contribution to IBM was my ability to pick strong and intelligent people and then hold them together by persuasion, by apologies, by financial incentives, by speeches, by chatting with their spouses by thoughtfulness when they were sick or involved in accidents, and using every tool at my command to make that team think I was a decent guy."

Thomas J. Watson Jr. Former CEO of IBM

Managers and leaders, in all fields - political, business, financial, educational, technical, and professional are going to require fine-tuned interpersonal skills in order to be successful in these rapidly changing times. Such skills required are: keen observation and patient listening skills, flexibility to be able to adapt, and a perceptive ability and understanding to recognize their own personal style and motivation, as well as those of others.

"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The Courage to change the things I can, And the Wisdom to know the difference."

Author Unknown

People will make the difference in the 1990's "The Decade of Change."

John Watson is President of his own Company, specializing in seminars and consulting services related to People - Performance - Time and Change. He is a frequent speaker at conventions, association and business meetings.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Canadian Institute of Management
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Watson, John
Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Mar 22, 1991
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