For years I’ve been banging on about the unnecessary complexity of the modern workplace. And whilst it is reassuring to hear more and more people talk about the need to make things simpler and, “more human”, I’m more concerned than ever that we just don’t understand what that means.
It means doing less – which probably means smaller teams and lower budgets.
It means stopping – which probably means losing elements of perceived control.
It means thinking differently – which probably means losing people.
It means a new alignment – which means creating a new purpose.
And this is why it is easier for people to stand on conference stages, write articles or sell services, than it is to achieve as a practitioner. Because these changes go directly to the heart of the way in which we operate and have operated for years. They go to the heart of everything we have been taught is right and told to value.
In many ways, the world of “management” is very like the world of diet, health and wellbeing. Full of fads and initiatives that are layered on top of one another, each promising to be the answer, when deep down we know that the problem itself is one that never used to exist – until we created it ourselves.
We celebrate the ditching of the performance review – when that is simply a symptom of a problem that we created. The desire to differentiate and measure individuals within a group.
We champion the need for candidate and employee experience – presenting the treatment of people with dignity and respect as revolutionary or new.
Understanding the solution, means looking beyond the symptoms to the root causes. In the same way that faddy diets don’t deal with obesity and can instead contribute to the problem. We need to take a systemic and focused approach that recognises the multiple complex drivers, that recognises our contribution to them and starts to unpick and unwind, rather than layer on top.
To put it simply, we are the problem and we are also the solution; but only if we choose to change.