Ok, so what if we would treat people like they were resources? It’s not a silly thought!
Last week I spoke at an Agile + HR meetup to talk about Daniël Pink‘s research on motivation. First question I asked was if anybody heard about Pink’s research by means of the books or maybe his video. Just a couple of people! And these were all HR professionals.
So the quiz I planned, for which I was a little scared it might come across a little ridiculous, panned out. I showed them pictures of resources and humans, and let the crowd decide which of the two was shown on the screen. So the “beamer” was easy. The “money” too. But once I got to the picture of a worker in front of an assembly line, it got a little harder! Because only then we might consider people to be resources. Because they only perform one task all day. In most cases (not all!) not the most sophisticated work. In which a typical motivation scheme (reward good behavior and punish bad behavior) works just fine.
This motivation scheme (2.0 as Dan Pink calls it) is still the most used scheme in organisations today. We reward the top performers with a big cash bonus. However, money is not the reason people are passionate about their work. They need other incentives.
I was at the office today and started talking about this event I was last week. I told my colleague I was surprised HR professionals are not familiarized with Pink’s work to begin with. And we started wondering what if we started to really treat people as if they were resources.
If our office furniture breaks down, we have nice yellow post-its to stick on them saying something like: “I’m broke, but reported the problem”. The other option is: “I’m fixed, please remove this sticker”…
We imagined riding people around on their chairs, replacing them for another resource, wondering if it would yield the same result. Not to mention the look on the face of their colleagues. Or putting a sticker to their face saying their broken and in need of repair! Hilarious!
It is hilarious indeed, but a lot of us still do it on a daily basis. In the company I work in we’re beyond that fase fortunately, however sometimes I still hear people talking about needing “resources” when they’re talking about their colleagues…
And of course we shouldn’t be too strikt, because the term HR emerges from the times where a lot of the work we did was mechanical, assembly lines in factories (the industrial revolution) etc.
But the more creative or jobs become, the more passion we need for our work. No wonder Netflix has a “CTO”. No, “T” does not stand for “Technical”, but it represents…”Talent”!
Cherish the talents in your organisation and treat them as such! Read Dan Pink people! And while you’re at it, start using Agile as a way to improve on your old habits.