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Balancing Process and People Needs at Work


Earlier in my career, I worked with an executive who always reinforced the reality, “What gets measured, gets done.” It is a very simple statement but it means that if you measure only processes, your people will focus on the process to the exclusion of all else. If this is how you measure your team, they will master the process and your leadership needs may not be met. Additionally, measuring only processes can lead to developing employees who feel:


  • Entitled

  • Disengaged

  • Underutilized

  • Under-valued


You might say to yourself, “So what! Once I am getting the results I need then there is no need to worry about balance”. My assertion in response to this claim is that yes, you might be attaining your desired results, but with strong leadership and an inspired team, you can achieve quantum results! Especially in challenging times.


If you are part of the “so what” crowd you probably focus on building processes and expect employees to stick to the script at the risk of impacting innovation and creativity or even productivity. Creativity and innovation are important cultural characteristics because they show up when employees are engaged. Engaged, adaptable employees are not only able to improve your results, they can innovate solutions in any type of economic climate and turbo-charge the performance of your business.


Conventional wisdom used by managers deciding on promotions is that your best performers are the ones who understand the process and produce strong results. While they may be your best employees, based on their technical skills, knowledge of the job or results, sometimes these strong performers are unable to motivate or engage their respective teams.


Processes are usually established to ensure standard levels of service are offered to clients or standardized levels of quality are applied throughout a process. These reasons are certainly important and should always be a part of your focus but what about the people considerations?


Process standards create safety, routine and opportunities for control. Oftentimes process standards are treated as rules or inflexible structures designed to maintain uniformity. While standards are quite useful and necessary for success, Tanmay Vorga once stated, “Processes have to be flexible since each project is unique, each client is unique and hence process requirements are unique too. Processes should act as a tool and help people perform better.


His assertion supports the idea that processes are tools and should be used as part of a holistic solution. In higher performing teams processes, not people, are used as tools.


From a problem resolution perspective, managers can fall into the trap of perceiving challenges primarily from a process perspective and not see the contributing people issues clearly enough. Many managers learn how to break down a systemic problem but when people are involved, so are emotions and emotions can impede the resolution process.


How do I bring my company into balance?


In his book, Spiritual Capitalism, Michael Hendren describes his approach to moving from radical transformation of corporate performance into quantum performance. He says, “The outmoded business practices of the past – top heavy management, greed at the helm, an employees-be-damned attitude, a self interest focus in management – just don’t cut it anymore. I’ve had amazing financial results with Spiritual Capitalism. I’ve also had a lot of fun in the process while making a fortune for my team.”


As a leader, you can achieve balance and quantum results through the following enhancements to your behavior. Michael Hendren suggests you should:


· Come from a place of empowerment versus control

· Talk to your people not at them

· Show you care about your team as much as you care about yourself


Additionally, you can:


· Avoid manipulating the emotions of your direct reports and creating sides

· Develop your people through training, coaching and mentoring

· Inspire creativity and open a safe place for creativity

· Develop an effective reward and recognition program

· Conduct an employee satisfaction survey to understand how well you are maintaining the balance.


As a leader, while seeking to balance process and people, try to avoid falling into the trap of trying to achieve balance of process issues to the exclusion of balancing people issues. Balancing is never-ending and over time, mastery comes from conscious attempts to recalibrate for the good of the team.


Adam Khan once said, “You continually find your balance, you don't achieve balance. Even if you were able to find your perfect balance and hold it, life itself will throw you off balance continually. It is constant adjustment.”


With knowledge gained from over 30 years of Fortune 500 and international consulting experience, Yvette shares her rich experience and proprietary model for changing businesses from the inside out. She is a thought leader in the areas of trust, leadership and organizational ecosystems, an award winning author and cultural consultant.


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