People Issues Are the Same

The last four months have been a whirlwind for me. I have worked with or spoken to federal court administrators, municipal roads and public works supervisors, HR professionals across Caterpillar dealerships, managers at nuclear power generating facilities, managers of ENT practices, and HR professionals in private and government tourism organizations across the Caribbean. I have traveled to Miami, Nashville, Cambridge MD, Toronto, London Ontario, Tobago, and Timmins Ontario.

Here’s one thing I was reminded of: All these good folks from all these varied industries, locations, and managerial levels face essentially the same challenges when it comes to bringing out the best in people. They seek to attract, retain, and motivate staff. And they worry inordinately about the few employees who are falling short in their performance, especially those who are consistently below satisfactory but not so much so as to trigger a formal disciplinary process.

When members of each of these groups assembled for their meeting, course, or conference, they were relieved to learn that they were not the only manager to deal with this stuff. They were not odd or less capable. They were not alone!

I recall years ago being invited to speak to managers in a plumbing and heating organization. My client asked me a (test?) question, “How much do you know about this industry?” I replied, “Not very much and I am willing to familiarize myself with this before I speak to your group. But tell me, you have people in your industry, don’t you?” “Of course,” He responded. “Well,” I said, “I know something about managing people. I think I can help your group.”

Of course, managing administrators is different from leading staff in an art gallery which is different from supervising road crews. But, you know, in every case we are dealing with people. They bring to their job the same sorts of hopes, dreams, worries, fears, and jealousies.

And, above all, when they go home at the end of the day they ALL want to feel that what they did today made a difference…to someone, somewhere. We all want to matter.

Focus by Simon Sinek What I’m Reading

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

by Simon Sinek

I bought this book because of some strong recommendations from thought leaders I follow and because the author has built a reputation of provoking and stretching your thinking. The title comes from the practice in the US Marines where officers eat after the enlisted soldiers to model that leadership includes placing the needs of others ahead of your own.

I’m only a short way in so far but am enjoying it and am intrigued by several of his chapter titles: The Courage to Do the Right Thing, The Boomers All Grown Up, So Goes the Leader, So Goes the Culture, and So Goes the Culture, So Goes the Company.