Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Damn It Jim, I'm a Doctor, Not a Mechanic"

People are not machines! We’ve read it many times in leadership books. But just for shites and giggles, lets think like that for a moment. With a machine, you use it as it was designed to be used in accordance with its operating manual. But to effectively use it for a long period you would also have to include maintaining it in good condition (well lubricated, fueled or powered, overhauled, parts replaced when worn, etc).

You know that if we continued to use the machine and never properly cared for it, the machine would degrade steadily over time and eventually suffer some misfortune which would render it useless. Right? So you have to include routine preventive and corrective maintenance in order to "maintain" the machine in the best operating condition. The better we maintain it, the better its output. No rocket science here.

So really, are people any different than machines?

To be successful at maintaining machinery or a function like operations, you must thoroughly understand that machine or function, how it works and what it needs. Is it any different for managing people? Nah, not really.

You need to “maintain” your employees by keeping up high morale. You need to provide them a strong sense of ownership for their work and create an environment where they can use their full potential and creativity. Your employees need to be kept productive, motivated and committed in their work?

There’s one pretty significant difference between machines and people. People have a brain! They have the capability of deciding what, when, and how they should do something before actually doing it. Thinking this way would suggest that managing people is more about maintaining their natural abilities rather than just “using” them.

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