The trouble with people, it is often said, is that they’re people…
…and this is a sentiment we fully understand.
The old adage that you should ‘never work with children and animals’ does, at times, feel like it needs extending with the phrase ‘or anyone else at all….’
Why is this though?
Is it because all business minded people are self centred, narcissistic, egotistical perfectionists who are unable to work collaboratively with other people, delegate effectively or take any form of advice?
Or is it all everyone else’s fault?
You’ll be pleased to hear that the answer to each of these questions is ‘no’, for the most part anyway.
What is certain though, is that business people like you, do usually set high standards that they tend to automatically expect others to be capable of meeting.
This is why business owners and entrepreneurs are famous for working long hours, and taking very few (if any) days off.
Being a workaholic is all well and good for some people, but for most of us, it gets in the way of the things we started out in business for in the first place.
Things like family. Things like friends. Things like pursuing passions and just living life!
What do all these ‘things’ have in common? They involve people!
Well, every single person who works for you, with you, or who you work for and with, has the same balance to find. Their motivations and situations are likely to be different from person to person, but whatever they are, they are still motivations and situations that matter to them.
What matters to your people needs to matter to you.
Culture. Ethos. Environment.
These are all buzz words that are thrown about as businesses and workplaces try to show an appreciation of the people that work there. The idea of ‘worker bees’ has been thrown out of the window in this part of the world, replaced with employee games rooms, gym memberships and free coffee from the coffee machine.
‘Work’ has never felt and looked less like ‘work’ than it does today, in many parts of the business world, and that is a sign of the times. A sign that people are beginning to be recognised for the roles they play in keeping an organisation, a business, a company – in tip top shape.
So, go on then, think about it. How do you look after your ‘people?’
Be they employees, suppliers, partners, investors, customers. They’re all people that you come into contact with, and they all, every single one of them, matter.
If they don’t, they should.
Let’s look at an example of one very high profile business, where an understanding of how ‘people matter’, and the impact this has upon success, is easy to identify.
Manchester United. A name that is known the world over as one of the world’s greatest football teams, and one of the world’s most successful businesses. A surprising source for a story of how ‘people matter’ you might think, but bear with us.
When Sir Alex Ferguson handed the baton over to his successor, David Moyes, in June 2013, he trusted his fellow Scotsman to hit the ground running, such was the platform he’d spent over 25 years setting up.
The key to this successful platform? Absolute faith in the people who work there, from the tea lady to the first team captain. That’s what Ferguson had spent years working hard on. The backroom staff, the chefs, the physiotherapists, the stewards even. All people in their own right, all with a job to do to enable the team, the club, and the business, to perform at the top of their capabilities.
So, why didn’t it work for David Moyes at Man Utd? And if you’re not into football, we’ll just tell you that it plain didn’t work out for him…
Well, one of the reasons has to be that he failed to understand the people that he would rely on to ensure success.
And that’s people at every level, again, from the captain through to the tea lady.
In his early days at the club, there was dressing room unrest, with Champion League winning Rio Ferdinand expressing his disapproval at being made to watch analysis videos of players who were nowhere near his own ability. Leaks such as ‘what has he ever won?’ soon started to sneak into the papers, and Moyes failed to see that this wasn’t arrogance, but his own misjudgement of the people he was now working with. What mattered to those Manchester United players? Being the best. Reaching the highest of the high. And to them, their new manager wasn’t setting the bar high enough. Failure to understand people, number 1.
Failure to understand people number 2, was probably an even bigger mistake on Moyes’ part...
Whereas under Ferguson’s quarter of a century rein, players were encouraged to converse and become familiar with every member of the club’s staff, from the cleaners to the coaches, under Moyes, a new hard line of football focused attitudes began to emerge. It was reported that Moyes asked his players to not waste time talking to the staff behind the scenes at the training ground and on match days, because this would take away their concentration on the task at hand, winning games of football, but this was a grave error of judgement, as his tenure would evidence.
No more ‘good mornings’ in the corridor or ‘how’s the family?’ in the cafeteria.
We could understand the change, had the team he inherited been an unsuccessful one. Then maybe there would have been some cause to change the way relationships were managed. But this wasn’t the case. The team Moyes inherited were the most successful in the Premier League era, and that team stretches further back than the eleven millionaires on the pitch.
Failure to understand people number 3, the perfect hat trick for David Moyes, was in his removal of people from key positions. People like Mike Phelan, who had been an ‘on and off’ but nonetheless a huge part of United’s successes down the years. Keeping him in place as assistant manager would have made the most sense. He knew the ins and outs of the club, what made a difference on the day to day, what mattered to the people there.
However, like several other key figures, he was gone and replaced by Moyes’ own people.
So, what do we conclude from all of this?
Don’t give David Moyes a vacant manager’s job?
No, of course not, he has been incredibly successful elsewhere, in his own right.
Rather, we should learn from this that no matter who you are, and no matter the size of the organisation, business or company, it is of paramount importance that you realise, beyond all reasonable doubt, that people matter. All of the people matter.
What matters to them, matters to you.
If you get that right, then what matters to you will matter to them, and that’s a real winning formula. Just ask Sir Alex Ferguson, he knows a thing or two about success.