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(Associated Press, 1964)

In our last article, we mentioned the idea of putting more effort into your people over your processes. Today I’m here to explore these two integral components in any organization, and the way these two ends of the rope push and pull at each other.

Let’s use the example of a basketball team and you, the decision-maker, are the head coach. Your people are your coaching staff, your players, athletic trainers, etc. Basically, any physical human being that is playing for your team or supporting your team is a part of this ‘people’ category. (I know this seems like I’m just holding your hand and stringing you along for the ride with some common sense ideas, but bear with me.) Your processes are the things peripheral to or actions from your people. For our intents and purposes with the basketball team, this breaks down to practices, workouts, team nutrition, recovery plans, team-building exercises, and so forth. Both your people and your processes work together to produce an output; in our case, the team’s performance come game-time that results in either a win or a loss.

Of course, the end goal of any organization is to maximize the output, and few organizations, if any, do the job of balancing the attention and priority they put on both their processes and people. So then comes the question processes or people?

While there is a current shift in today’s world where these attentions are going, the standard model of most organizations is to focus on the process: harder practices, after work hours in the office, attempts at ramping up production; all this is done in the name of getting a higher output. The logic here makes sense, but the trap is not realizing that processes don’t have many limiting parameters, but people do. So if your people cannot match the demands of your processes, all is for naught. Furthermore, processes can indeed put the fire under the bottoms of your people, but couldn’t the inverse also be true? If your people are well-taken care of and of sound spirit, they’ll perform more efficiently, right?

Let’s return back to the basketball example. One of your best players, Joe Smith, is complaining about slight pains in his knee. You see him in practice and in the workout room and come to the conclusion that though he says he’s feeling pains, it isn’t very noticeably affecting his performance. So you decide to prioritize your process instead of your person, push him in practice, and put him in the game because you don’t want to miss out on his output. Turns out, this wear and tear makes his injury even worse and now his minor injury turns into a major one; Joe Smith is out for the season. If you had focused on the initial report from Joe that things weren’t at 100% and let him take some time to recuperate, even if it meant going from 90 back to 100, that small investment of time means that, in the long run, Joe is still in commission.

Now, as a former head coach myself, I recognize that most coaches do listen to their athletes and think about proper rest to ensure the longevity and health of their players, but there are leaders in both the athletic and corporate arenas that don’t bother to focus on their people. At Profile, you know what side of the line we stand on: people all the way. The conversations we, as leaders, can have with our employees can be as critical as figuring out if someone’s metaphorical ‘knee’ is hurting. Letting these issues get worse can mean poor productivity or, at the worst, that employee leaving.

The thing is, processes, for the most part, are stable. You as a leader know what needs to get done and how it should get done. What’s more crucial is having the right people who see eye-to-eye with you and can also produce this process. Assessments, like the ones we have at Profile, allow a more in-depth look at what factors your people need to have covered so that the processes at your organization run smoothly. After all, a bent wheel only rolls so far.

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