Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > Put people at the heart of what you are doing

Put people at the heart of what you are doing

It’s all about the people. Not the first time I’ve covered this, nor will it be the last, but a few things have drawn me back to this subject. First off sorting out a problem for a client where things had bogged down into an email war. This must be the modern equivalent of trench warfare; you dig into your position and hurl stuff at the other party who is equally well dug in on their side. No-one wins. After two weeks of cyber missives flying back and forth the problem was solved in 45 minutes face to face working around the table.

The next day came another example of the power of people. A client has a supplier problem where legal people are involved on both sides, but half an hour on the phone has seen the first progress for about 10 days. Once again you get things moving when people start to talk and work with each other.

Humans are social animals and we like to congregate of our own accord, but we also have the problem in some countries, the UK being one, where we are all thrown together because there are so many of us in a small space and are forced to get along. Making it easy for us to do what we need to do helps remove some of the frustrations that cause problems between people. If the roads are not clogged we don’t get road rage, for example.

And that brings me on to the role of facilities management people. We have our definitions of FM, and they are fair enough, but since I’ve been involved in FM I’ve seen the role as one of facilitation to a large degree. The make it easy for the people in the building to do what they come there for. When you go to work there are lots of little things that can act like a handful of sand in the gearbox; no one grain will break it, but the combined effect will be to wear it out quickly. Problems at work have the same effect. The copier won’t work, the lift is out of order again, the car park is always flooded (see last week’s Musing) and so on.

All of these distract people from doing what they are there to do and make them less productive. Amongst other things FM sorts all of that out. It’s people working with and for each other gives you team work and synergy, the sum of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

The buildings and the technology are just tools. If no-one uses them they will just sit there and crumble away eventually, but they are created by people. It’s people that have the great ideas to move things forward and it’s other people that have the skills to translate the ideas into physical reality. So why do we so often forget that it is people that will have to use what we create?

All too often I see projects where there is some glorious aim in mind, but none of it gives much thought to the people that will have to work with or around it. New shiny technology is bought and deployed without any real thought of the people who it will be inflicted on. How many new buildings have I spent the first year on just making them user friendly?

People power is huge (just look at Egypt right now) so make it work. Put human interaction at the heart of what you do and you won’t go too far wrong.

  1. February 7, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Nicely put John. I see the same thing with business people who make presentations on technical subjects like accountancy or law. They get lost in the detail and forget about the human element here. Dealing with a big problem with HMRC has a huge impact on those worrying about it (the boss can rest easy, he/she’s in a better mood now) and the law largely exists because of issues between human beings and their emotional drivers. Telling those stories from the human perspective (by all means throw in some detail to add structure, background) makes them more powerful for the audience and helps the speaker re-connect with their core purpose.

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