Organizations fascinate me. I have been fortunate to have worked in different types of industries over my career ranging from professional services to manufacturing to restaurants. Each of them has had a unique culture and an varying impact on how I practice HR. One thing that has been in common though isn’t a positive attribute, and that is EVERYONE wants to control other people.
This isn’t a rant about how organizations are still predominantly a Theory X laboratory where people are expected to shut up and do what is being said. That is unfortunately true. However, this is much more basic. We think that if we can make sure everything is in line, then people will perform at a maximum level because we will have eliminated variability.
Controlling people is a myth. It is something that companies, and especially HR, need to recognize and change. Whenever leadership seeks to control employees either through archaic policies and procedures, or through stringent cultures, they actually limit what employees will do. We write and strive for people to bring 100% of themselves to the workplace, but ONLY if it fits our norms and structures.
I think that “structure” has it’s place in organizations, but not how most people define it. I feel that structure should build broad parameters for people to be expressive, creative and perform. We spend so much time measuring, correcting and fixing people through our current structures in HR. We don’t encourage people to thrive. We expect them to conform.
It’s time for us to realize that controlling people is a myth. People, by their nature are different and diverse. Instead of thinking that this is challenging or difficulte, we should embract it !! It is great to set expectations, but allow your employees the chance to move, change, build, destroy and reinvent their work regardless of their role.
I try to practice this approach and it is freeing for people while also being very upsetting for others. When you work with people who demand absolutes and black/white answers on all instances involving people, you have a problem. It’s intriguing to me that the people who want absolutes only want them when it doesn’t apply to them personally. When it “hits home” they want the same latitude that they see you practicing with others.
Here’s a different approach . . .
Why don’t you have people “contribute” vs. trying to “control” them?
If you set up an environment where people can add their contribution, you have a better chance to see what people really bring to their jobs. It is a completely different expectation than I see given to folks. Now, this isn’t a job description with a purpose, focus and the 10 essential things for someone to succeed. It’s a way to be daily intentional to expect the best from somebody in what they do.
Make the change. Stop controlling and start contributing. It works !!