What is the most important aspect of an organization?
Most, if not all, employers or leaders would answer this question with: the employees. While the employee is vital to any organization, they alone are not the most important aspect. WHAT?! You must be thinking I am a jerk! Well, maybe you already think this… but hear me out before you jump to any conclusions.
Employees are extremely important to any organization and hiring the right people can make or break your office culture. However, having the best employees in your industry will not overcome a lack of the most important aspect of your organization.
In the book Paid to Think, David Goldsmith challenges us to rethink many principles of our business. One idea that he encourages is to “Rethink Your View that Employees Are the Most Important Part of Your Organization”. Goldsmith says:
While I agree that good organizations are made up of great people doing great work and that employees play an extremely important in the success of any organization, the idea that people are the most important part of an organization is a wrong assumption that can actually hinder the people it intends to credit. We’ve all seen firsthand how even the most talented people turn in substandard performance if they don’t have the systems and structures they need to excel in their work. Therefore, if you make this assumption and are willing to rethink it, you can more readily capture opportunities to empower your people to achieve more successes within your organization!
So what is the most important aspect of your organization? SYSTEMS! The systems and structure of your organization go far beyond what we normally think of as systems. They include: computers, tools, necessary equipment, rules, regulations, laws, procedures and policies. Having the greatest employee in your industry doesn’t ensure that this person will excel, especially if the system he/she works in is flawed.
A great analogy of this would be a bike race between me and Lance Armstrong. In this race I would be required to ride my 5 year old son’s bike (which I can’t even sit down on) and Lance would ride his state of the art Trek Madone. Well we all know who would win this race. But let’s change things up a bit! Now Lance has to ride my son’s bike and I get to ride the state of the art Trek Madone. Even though Lance is one of the greatest cyclists of all times I would beat him in that race. Why? Well, in this scenario the bikes represent the system, I was put into the proper system and Lance was put into a failing system. This is a glaring example of how an average employee working in a great system will far exceed a great employee working in a flawed system.
I understand this may sound backwards to many of you, but essentially systems are so important because of how vital the employees are. Our systems can either help or hinder employees and this rethinking actually promotes a better working environment where employees are appropriately equipped and resourced to do their best.
As a leader or manager of any organization it is completely imperative to analyze and correct any problems in your systems prior to addressing any employee issues. It is nearly impossible to know if the problem you see is a staff issue until you know that the systems are correct. Only when you have addressed the system should you then address any issues with the employee.
This chapter in Paid to Think has really challenged me to evaluate the systems in my organization! What tools am I giving our staff to better complete their job? Are they constantly talking about malfunctioning computers or slow internet? Do they see the big picture in order make the proper decisions? The list can go on and on. In the future, take time to analyze your systems before you take corrective action with your staff and work daily to refine your systems to better improve the production of your employees and the organization as a whole.
Question: What are some systems that you have (or intend to) put in place to help your employees reach greater success? Or, what systems do you think would help you reach new levels as an employee?
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