Here’s a riddle: What’s your biggest asset, AND your biggest potential liability, yet doesn’t appear on your balance sheet?

Not exactly the Riddle of the Sphinx is it? The answer is, of course, your people.

Here are some of my observations, based on all the organizations I’ve seen at home and abroad, regardless of size or sector:

  • In general, you get the kind of people you expect.
  • Personality tests have slightly more use in management than astrology (I’m told by a Myers Briggs expert that this viewpoint is typical of an INTP. I’m also told by an astrologer that my scepticism is typical of a Virgo).
  • Don’t let problems with people fester. They rarely get better on their own, and the true bad actors are probably beyond redemption, at least in the space of one lifetime (if you do believe in reincarnation by the way, welcome back). 
  • Posters on the wall containing statements of values make zero difference to culture (although they might boost cynicism if they contrast with what your people are seeing in tolerated behaviours). Therefore:
  • Don’t tolerate people who violate your values just because their numbers are good. If you do, it is their behaviours that will determine your culture.
  • Some of your front-line and shopfloor employees know a lot of useful stuff about your business – stuff that can grow your top line, remove costs, increase efficiency and quality. Do you manage to tap into all that?
  • For all the talk of empowerment, some people just want a job…
  • But others want a career – and many talented people are held back when they don’t fit their manager’s often unconscious picture of what the right person looks like and what qualifications they ought to have. The result: wasted potential.
  • You can’t motivate people – they are already motivated (though what they are motivated to do may or may not coincide with your needs).
  • If they were enthusiastic when you hired them, but now they are lethargic or miserable, something has triggered that change. Better find out what. Hopefully it’s not you! (but if it is, you know what to change).

Andy’s Advice: How well do you and your managers reduce fear, increase fairness, increase accountability, refuse to turn a blind eye to behaviour which undermines the culture, and reward people whose performance and values represent the organization you want to create?

Resources to help

If you haven’t seen them already, here are the links:


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