I'm sure that for any leader, you often experience those 'people challenges'. You've worked out how to fix your IT systems and you've fixed most of your processes. But you just can't seem to 'fix' your staff. Let's be honest, what use is the latest IT system and good process when all you get is resistance and squabbling from your employees? Although people are complicated, we all have similar needs.
Maslow worked it out years ago when he introduced the five basic needs: physiological, security, social, esteem, self-actualisation. We can fulfil these needs in a range of ways, but many can be fulfilled at work. For example, we work to pay our bills, buy food and provide shelter (physiological / security), interact with others (social), attain satisfaction in what we do and possibly further develop (esteem), and ultimately reach self-actualisation (the best we can be).
It's those great leaders that help those around them reach their ultimate goal and self-actualisation. They often do simple things, like aligning their employee's strengths to work tasks and further developing them; maintaining work flexibility; pulling up poor behaviour quickly and appropriately; and so on. I often ask managers the 'miracle question', "A miracle happened over night, while you were sleeping, and you didn't know about it. The miracle fixed all your 'people problems'. When you get to work, how do you know that the miracle occurred?" Often the response is "It would be a nicer environment and feel less tense", "Bob would say 'hi' in the mornings", "staff wouldn't resist change", "everyone smiles".
Sometimes we get so caught up in what we don't like, that we overlook what we'd want to see differently. Ask yourself, what miracle do you want to see take place in 2012? Are there certain needs you should provide people with to attain this miracle? Remember, as Maslow said "There are no perfect human beings". And we know that same behaviour gives same results. Don't be afraid to change in 2012.
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