Originally published on Forbes.com
As leaders and managers, we tend to focus on things we can measure. And the capacity of human beings is immeasurable. Maybe that’s why so many business leaders fail to focus on their people when they sit down to create a strategic plan.
But think about this: all the things you measure – from top-line sales to bottom line profits, and everything in between – are a natural byproduct of human performance. And for humans to perform at their highest capacity you must focus on what they need to create those results.
Being People-Focused Means Investing in Your Energy Source
Think about your business like an old-fashioned water pump. The goal is to access water, right? And your business is a structure designed for accessing that water. But no improvement you can make to the business, better strategy, better tactics, better marketing, none of that's going to bring up more water if the people who need to power the pump don’t have the energy or motivation to make it happen.
To improve your results, you have to invest time, energy, and yes, money, in meeting the needs of the people who make that pump work.
Being People-Focused Means Understanding Human Needs
When we talk about focusing on the humans in our organization, we usually think about two things: incentives and nurture. But neither of those strategies will help you build or harness human energy if you aren’t providing for what I call The 6 Facets of Human Needs™: clarity, connection, contribution, consideration, challenge, and confidence.
In fact, incentive programs and nurturing activities can actually be counterproductive if you aren’t meeting these basic human needs for the people on your team. But when you focus on meeting these needs you’ll find that tactics like bonuses and bonding are exponentially more effective.
Being People-Focused Means Exponential and Sustainable Results
The bottom line is that we can’t expect long-term results by using the stick of goals and deadlines or the carrot of incentives and rewards. Both of those tactics will get an initial surge of energy, which on paper might look like success. Inevitably that energy soon fizzles out and you have to up the ante. And when you up the ante on either the stick or the carrot you end up with burnout and dysfunction.
However, when your results strategy is truly people-focused, when you’re making sure people have clarity, that they feel connected to the company and to each other, that they are able to contribute in meaningful ways, that they are considered to be significant, that they are engaged and challenged, and that they have confidence in themselves you can harness the energy while avoiding burnout and dysfunction.
No matter how you measure your results, they are only a byproduct of human energy. The bottom line is that every business runs on people power, how are you investing in and harnessing the power in your business?