People are an organization’s competitive engine. They are the reason an organization succeeds or fails, and yet, we all too often shove them into roles where they don’t fit and ask them to keep quiet and do as we say.
We build structures that repeatedly ask people to be someone other than who they are so they can be managed, so they can do well on their next performance review, and so they can improve their chances of getting a raise or a promotion.
When we do that, we don’t talk about the important things in meetings. The loudest voices win. The best ideas don’t rise to the top. People hold back for fear of standing out for the wrong reasons. We succumb to tactics that breed success at human expense. Missed opportunities abound.
And it adds up.
We may not notice it at first, but there are natural consequences and they will be borne at some point by our organizations. We may do our best to mitigate, delay, or even cover up the human and eventual organizational cost, but there is no denying it.
The questions then are simple.
Are we building the types of organizations and cultures that thrive because they take advantage of opportunities when they arise? Are we working to make sure that our people get to do what they do best? Are we succeeding because of, and with our people, our greatest opportunity?
And if we’re not…
Will we ever be able to compete with those that do?