Staff Are Not Resources or Widgets

In his book Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If They're Real People, Rodd Wagner explains that staff are not "assets," "resources," "FTEs," or "widgets." They are individuals, each with their own needs and fears, and if you want them to give you their best, you need to treat them with respect. He calls this foundation "the reciprocal employee." Show your staff caring and loyalty and get that and more back.

Rodd then goes into his 12 new rules. I've only gotten through the first two so far: get inside their heads and remove their fears. You need to understand each person's needs and fears, allay them and their concern about job security, and they will reward you with full engagement and productivity.

I am a big believer in treating everyone with respect so I am really enjoying reading all the science behind what I always knew to be the right thing to do and business common sense. Two stories Rodd relays to demonstrate this really stuck out.

Apparently power makes it more challenging for people to empathize with others. Rodd explains how all humans have mirror neurons that allow us to feel with others and even taste what we see others drinking. When a study was done with two groups of people, one group was asked to remember an instance where they were in power; the other was asked to remember an instance when someone had power over them. Both groups then watched a video of a hand squeezing a ball. The group that remembered being powerless mirrored the action within the video more strongly than the group that remembered their power. So if power mutes our ability to mirror and empathize, those in power need to be aware of this and take extra measures to reconnect with their staff. 

The second story shows that not only is it possible for those in power to truly care, but the positive impact this can have.

When Hewlett-Packard was suffering during the recession of 1970, Bill Hewlett found out that some of his managers were laying people off to cut costs. Not only did he put a stop to this, but he and all senior staff were given every other Friday off along with a 10% salary reduction. This allowed them to reduce enough cost without letting anyone go and ensured the burden of the recession was distributed across all levels. Their staff's gratitude and loyalty lasted two years for this one action.

I don't think we need a book—or a study—to explain reciprocity to us. Just think about how you feel when disrespected and how likely you are to go out of your way for that person. Now think of someone who took the time to truly listen and show they care. Wouldn't you give extra to that person, even without being asked? And wouldn't you rather work for that type of person and company?

No comments:

Post a Comment