The Human Factor


Businesses that don’t under the value of their human capital resources are in error.  In spite of the power of technology and automation, it takes people power to make business operations work.  Failing to understand this reality will leave an organization vulnerable to their competition. This week we will cover human factor buy-in, the last element in socio-technical systems.  

Organizations must shift their paradigm to viewing workers as more than mechanical parts for their organizational objectives. Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, maintain that managers have a responsibility to effectively oversee their human resources which includes the people involved in the creation and distribution of goods and services. [1] Given this reality, the ability of managers to leverage their talent is crucial.  

Talent management is the process through which employers anticipate and meet the needs for human capital.[2]  Peter Cappelli, author of Talent Management, explains how mismanaging employees in organizations is problematic for an organization’s sustainable success:  “The failures in talent management includes mismatches between  supply and demand on the one hand, having too many employees, leading to layoffs and restructuring, and on the other hand, having too little talent, leading to talent shortage. [3] 

In the United States, talent management miscues fall into the following categories:  (a) Do Nothing Mode – makes no attempt to anticipate human resource needs and develops no plans for addressing them and (b) Reactive Mode – relies on outside hiring to meet human capital needs, but this approach has begun to fail now that the surplus of management talent has eroded.

Trust is the cornerstone of any meaningful relationships in organizations.  Yet, many employees do not trust their organizations due to the lack of employment security in most companies.  According to a USA Today poll, nearly half of those interviewed said that corporations can be trusted only a little, or not at all, when it involves looking out for the best interest of employees.[4] 

Michael Hackman and Craig Johnson, authors of Leadership: A Communication Perspectives, argue that a leader’s credibility is directly related to the quality of his relationship with followers.[5] Marios Katsioloudes, a researcher specializing in Socio-technical analysis, explains that as profitability of mechanization increases, the importance of technology is implied while there is a devaluation of the workers. U.S. businesses cannot point to the lack of employee performance on a global front for mismanagement errors.[6]

Japan, a long-time benchmark for American companies, is being defeated by American employees; today, the average U.S. worker puts in 36 more hours per year than Japanese workers (1,825 vs. 1,789). 

Over the last two decades, balancing work and home life have been difficult since Americans have added 200 hours to their annual work schedule.[7] Employees want to be valued. 

Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of The Human Equation, acknowledges that organization success is directly related to implementation, and this capacity comes from the workers, how they are treated, their skills, and their efforts as it relates to the organization.[8] 

Leaders should see followers as more than mechanical parts for their organizational objectives. Managers assume that giving employees new technology is enough to keep them happy. Likewise, leaders should view followers as a vital component of the socio-technical system. 

Discuss the concept of human factor buy-in for today’s organizations.

 © 2013 by Daryl D. Green                                    


[1] Contemporary Management by Gareth Jones and Jennifer George

[2] Talent Management by Peter Cappelli

[3] Talent Management by Peter Cappelli

[4] “Leading others while supporting organizational values” by Daryl D. Green

[5] Leadership: A Communication Perspectives by Michael Hackman and Craig Johnson

[6] “Leading others while supporting organizational values” by Daryl D. Green

[7] “Leading others while supporting organizational values” by Daryl D. Green

[8] The Human Equation by Jeffrey Pfeffer


Capping Mediocre Performance


Today’s organizations carry a desire to promote the concepts of high performance teams.  Yet, few managers are willing to put in the work to make this happen. According to Merriam-Webster Online, mediocre is defined as ‘of moderate or low quality, value, ability, or performance.’ The concept of mediocre is synonymous with being average or ordinary.  What individual worth his salt wants to be called mediocre? 

Employers know how to deal with troublemakers in the organization or poor performers.  However, how does an organization get rid of a person who is average?  Who is willing only to do enough to keep his or her job?  Perhaps, mediocre performance is generated by the lack of trust among workers.  In 2010, a Right Management study of over 4,000 employees in the U.S. showed a problem with employee trust in in their organization.

Over 57% occasionally trusted their managers to make the right decisions.  In fact, three quarters of all employees surveys had a low trust factor toward their managers.  Why should they trust their supervisors?

Today’s American workers are one of the most effective workforces across the global when the gauge is high productivity.  These workers are often greeted with deflating wages and threats of outsourcing of their jobs or company layoffs. Lee Ozley, management advisor, has been watching mediocre performance over the years as a consultant for businesses.  He has been amazed at how senior managers allow mediocre performance to continue in their organizations: “When I then get to know some of the ‘mediocre’ performers, it is not too difficult to determine what they believe to be the perception of the boss regarding their performance.”

Why don’t bosses care enough about their colleagues to ‘tell it like it is?’ Even organizations with fairly sophisticated performance appraisal systems seem to have the same problem – people simply don’t know where they stand. How can an employee be expected to continuously improve if their boss won’t level with them?” Therefore, setting expectations and having a method to ensure compliance is critical.

Richard Daft, author of Management, argues the importance of management involvement in creating higher performance: “All managers have to pay attention to costs, but severe cost cutting to improve efficiency can sometimes hurt organizational effectiveness. The ultimate responsibility of managers is to achieve high performance….” 

However, some organizations fail to understand that people are not like other resources. People can think and make different choices. Companies attempted to put their evaluations of their performance on autopilot with little regard of the individual employees. 

Yet, Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, argue that any performance appraisal should include meaningful feedback to employees:  “For the appraisal and feedback component of a human resource management system to encourage and motivate high performance, managers must provide their subordinates with feedback.”  However, employees are not fool with concerns by managers.  Organizations need to build an engaging corporate culture that stimulates outstanding achievement instead of cynical employees who have mediocre performance. 

Discuss the concept of mediocre employee performance in organizations.

 © 2013 by Daryl D. Green                                    


Sustaining Gratitude in Society

Sadly, many folks are too busy running the rat race to say, “Thank you.”  I remember sitting in a Sunday School class of young students during my college experience at Southern University.

I remember one student saying how ungrateful he had been toward his parents.  I also felt guilty.  My parents bought me my first car while I was in high school; most students did not have cars. 

I had envisioned receiving a brand new car.  Well, I didn’t. I got an old 1973 Dodge Charger.  I was disappointed.  But, I fell in love with that old car which I later called “The New Wave Cruise mobile.”  My car was far more dependable than most automobiles. 

I remember never having said “thank you” for my car – I had also taken my parents for granted.  Our society doesn’t teach us that being appreciative is a virtue.  This article examines the importance developing a spirit of gratitude as a competitive advantage toward employability.

Organizations should incorporate gratitude into their corporate culture.  Managers and workers would operate differently.  This attribute is all about character. Gratitude can be defined as the quality of being thankful; it is a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.  In the fast pace of industrial living, people aren’t saying “thank you” to anyone. Most people feel they deserve any kind act done for them.  

In fact, a selfish society creates a generation of ungrateful children.  Consequently, our children grow up with this huge expectation of social pampering. 

Why else would a) waiters expect tips without good service, b) students expect good grades without the effort, and c) couples want great relationships without any communication.  All of these unrealistic expectations make “thank you” less important. 

As the economy continues to spiral downward, organizations attempt to differentiate themselves from the competition. It starts with the greatest asset…people! High performing organizations understand this critical point! Badly run organizations don’t!

When you show someone some gratitude after they assist you, that individual will likely continue to help or do more for you. However, if you are ungrateful, many times people will not do any more for you. Businesses are no exception.  Showcasing a spirit of gratitude can be very rewarding and can assist in transforming an organization’s competitive advantage.

Discuss your personal experiences on this topic.

© 2011 by Daryl D. Green