Unlocking the value of people

As a friend of mine recently started working for Automattic my attention has been refocused on the importance of people within organisations. Its more than the superficial discussions about whether we call people “human resources” or “people”.  What is required is a fundamental shift in thinking of how we view the people we need in our teams.

More and more I’m made aware of a sub-culture that is developing in companies; companies that really care about their people.  The primary method this can be measured by is how much (or more accurately how little) they try control their people.  The manifestations can be seen in a wide array of “policies” such as remote teams, open working hours, respecting of personal and family time, and the valuing of personal needs. And the result you may ask? Happy, hard-working employees that are uber-evangelists of their companies. Sounds like a win-win to me.

These companies are placing a high value on excellence and skills required to perform roles, as well as an extremely high value on cultural fit.  These companies are recruiting a person, not a role. They are consciously taking the time and effort to ensure that every person they hire is going to add a forward momentum to their existing ethos.  I guess the most appropriate metaphor here is that of making scrambled eggs, it simply takes 1 off egg to spoil the whole batch; so take your time adding each egg.

I love the way that Automattic re-name their roles to describe the core function they are looking to fulfil. I think that the guys at Method were spot on when the created a “complex” interview process to see who the person is that they are interviewing through a case-study approach.

A key resource I keep falling back on is the great talk/book by Dan Pink – Drive, where Dan proposes that one of the major people management areas we are failing in is that of outdated motivators. Typically these motivators are all about financial incentives, that Dan notes, do little for most of the knowledge work that is performed today. Our outlook and implementation of these motivators will give us a good evaluation of how we truly view our employees.


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