As a leader, you can lead others with a belief that “people are good” – or with a fear that people will default. Your belief is reflected in the way you structure up your leadership team, set up governance processes and treat people. You can choose to provide space and freedom for people to perform or suffocate them with stringent monitoring policies.
Managing by inducing fear (penalties woven in the processes) undermines trust amongst people – and between groups that work together. It undermines the attitude that we all need to grow, improve, prosper and most importantly – SERVE. It undermines the meaning people find in their work. It undermines freedom – which is so essential for people to think abundant. With fear, people are instigated to do wrong, to fudge the details and to dispassionately comply. Does it help?
Here are a few most prominent thoughts about building a people-oriented work culture:
Building culture is a choice – and that choice is driven by beliefs. If you strongly believe in people (and their goodness), that belief drives the choice of culture.
Choice matters only when it is acted upon – do what you decide, in the way you treat people, design compensation/reward policies, do hiring, create environment and set up processes within your organization.
Understand tradeoffs – when you choose to be people oriented, lot of people (factory-advocates) may suggest stringent processes to monitor people, control assets and increase their productivity. Take a call only after revisiting your belief system about people. Building a culture (like building anything) is a painful process that demands taking tough calls and understanding risks.
Train People: Focus on your middle management and ensure that they completely understand the belief system and culture. Build processes so that new hires learn the culture, understand it and most importantly, FEEL it.
We are out of the factory mode where fear worked. No longer in knowledge world, where people have a choice between doing “good enough” and doing “great”, between ”simply cruising along” and “driving”. People choose to give their best (discretionary effort) only when they are free, when they are out of fear, when they are believed in and supported.
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P.S: My post Survival mindset, abundance and leadership was featured in The HR Carnival – Summertime Edition along with a host of other GREAT posts on people management, leadership and culture building. If you are a manager, leader or an HR professional – this Carnival will add a lot of value to what you do.