Michael Stanley discusses the fine balance between our commercial systems and people, the importance of humanity in business, and how culture can have a transformative effect on business.
Over the last 25 years or so, the practice of HR has become less transactional and more focused on the human dynamic – but by no means is that a done deal. All organisations have competing demands. So the real question is, how do you balance all of the organisation’s requirements with the requirements of its people?
What’s the right balance when prioritising the human issues versus commercial systems and technological, operational issues? There’s not a simple solution – it’s like fine-tuning a radio. How do you get the tuner on exactly the right frequency to operate with everything smoothly in alignment?
When you undervalue or disconnect from the humanity of your people, it’s very hard to get on the station. You can pump up the volume or turn it down. You can achieve lots of things. But in my view, you underperform because you’re not tapping into one of the potential drivers of productivity and success.
I believe acknowledging and understanding that you need a relationship with your people is a key driver of your success.
Creating value beyond your product
The telecommunications industry provides a good example of cultural difference. In essence, almost 99 per cent of products and services are the same. We can package them slightly differently, we can call them different things and we can price them differently, but the mobile phones are the same. You’ve got voice, you’ve got text and you’ve got data. Really what makes the difference for our customers is what our people do.
It’s not a question of what the technology does, it’s a matter of what our people do. If you fail to understand that the humanity of your people is important, then you’re not looking at how your people create value for customers beyond your products and services.
You could walk into any telecommunications shop run by competitors and immediately see the culture of these wider organisations at work – they are all fundamentally different. You can tell by the way the staff members behave that they are operating within different priority sets for each company. And as a business leader, you want to make sure that the way your people show up for your customers is the same way you want your customers to think of you.
Read more from Michael: What employees crave, and how to deliver.