“It’s the people, stupid”

We all know the politician’s favourite line (think it was Bill Clinton who said it most powerfully in recent times) – “It’s the economy, stupid”.  The mendacity of our democracies is that simple and horrid truth – the swing voters (the only ones with power to create change) swing most fervently on who they trust to handle the economy well.


(Stand out from the crowd – please everyone around you!)   – photo from my friends at Glasstap 

It is becoming more and more clear to me that a simple truth is absolutely core to all organisational success.  You can have the best widget, the most powerful and efficient systems, the most outlandishly modern equipment, suppliers, resources and customers who pay on time.  And it can all be laid completely to waste by the people

If you handle people badly – not listening, telling them what to do, not involving them, treating them as cost centres, giving them no space for input or development – then expect to fail.

Luckily, the converse is true.  Treat your colleagues and your team members like you would prefer to be treated yourself, and you will not go far wrong.

And a quick story for managers and directors.  A few years ago, a milk round delivery company asked their top performers what motivated them most.  They were about to go franchised, so wanted to use this criterion as a way of getting the right people on board.  After 2 hours, the top few said, “We cannot tell you what motivates us best – just what annoys us the most.  It is when senior management do not tackle those people who are not pulling their weight”.

Sometimes handling bad news well and tackling the thorny issues can be the most powerful thing you can do.  That’s why you get paid more.  Anyone can manage good news.  Good managers and leaders handle bad news well.

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