Friday, June 7, 2013

All The People Matter

My contention is that "All The People Matter" in an organization and I will argue long and hard for that position.  But a picture may be "worth a thousand words." An old rock fortress of dry-stacked, unhewn stones I saw along the Incan Trail in Atacama, Chile is my metaphor for two insights into WorkWorthy workplaces:

  • Nothing is more important for managers to do than to select the right people every time / all the time.
  • Each person in the workplace needs to realize the importance of their position to every other stone.

Whoever built the fortress considered the unique shape of each stone to perfect the fit with the other stones in the wall. All the stones matter in this fortress because all of them depend on every other individual stone for their strength and durability. If one stone fails, the entire structure is compromised. The Incan fortress challenges leaders to select the right people for their workplace every time, all the time. Selecting the right person for a job is the most important thing managers do; if you plan to build something that is going to last, you need to select people that can last.  This week I saw a statistic that said that 40% of executives fail in new companies within 18 months. Get real. That is abysmal performance. Get even more real, is your percentage better than that?  Get still more real. That number does not even include the number of execs that stay in their new jobs that are sub-performing. 

When I first saw the fortress, I asked my guide, "Wow, where is the fence to keep people away that would pull out one of those stones at the bottom and send the entire thing tumbling?"  He answered, more or less, "What sort of person would do that?" Honestly, I thought of myself as an 8 year-old boy and could imagine someone who could do something like that. Are you an employee that jumps from job to job, because the problem is with your bosses and not with the person you see in the mirror? Don't think that your job-hopping doesn't damage a lot of other people that are depending on you, because likely it does.

Probably the most challenging thing the fortress has to say about workplaces is our individual responsibility to the community in which we are set. I have heard people say that in battle, soldiers do not fight for their country, that they fight for the person on their left and right. For sure a lot of workplaces are sub-par, soul-killing places, but what kind of stone are you in that workplace? How are you showing up in the workplace? Are you a person upon which every other person can depend? When the people to your left and right think of you, are they glad it is you who is there?

"All the people matter." Go out and make that real today!