by Paula on June 15, 2012

I have always been a strong advocate of looking beyond a person’s job title, race, religion, clothes and seeing the heart, soul, life experience, laughter, hurt and what makes that person tick. This means that you could stand me in front of 10 accountants and I don’t see 10 accountants, I see 10 individuals – some with families, some confident, some shy, some experienced, some passionate about finance and some who do it just for a job and are dreaming about getting out on their mountain bike at the weekend.

People are complicated but that’s what makes them special.

In your business you don’t have a sales person, a marketing person, an administrator – you have a Tracey, a Susan, a Daniel and a Graham. Each unique, each bringing a whole life of experience and attitude to the role, and it’s this that makes managing and incentivising those people a challenge.

I want to share with you a story I used in a recent meeting:

I described a good friend of mine:

She is a Clinical Applications specialist for a large health care company. She is responsible for the training of all staff on CT scanners within oncology departments worldwide. She travels extensively, running training courses for 3-5 days aswell as attending up to 5 international user conferences a year.  A typical week would be fly out Sunday evening, check in to hotel.  Start training in hospital on Monday morning very often not in English!  Wednesday evening taking customers out for dinner.  Thursday evening fly home.  Friday work from home completing paper work and answering customer queries. Prepare for following week or drive to Head Office to test software for new release and meet with collegues go out for dinner with collegues drive home.

I asked the people in the meeting to visualise this person. I then described another good friend:

She runs a small business making cupcakes. Her day involves getting up and getting children ready for school. She comes home, answers emails, bakes any orders then maybe makes a trip to Costco or meets friend for coffee. Mid afternoon she collects children from school and drops off cakes at cafe on way to after school activity. After children are put to bed she checks her emails and bakes cupcakes for following day.

I again asked the team to visualise this person.

I then revealed that this is actually the same person just at different times in their life.

Not shocking in itself, in fact a perfectly natural life change for many Mums. What’s notable though is the perception people have of the individual based purely on what they do as a day job.

  • Who is working for you, with you, around you?
  • What box have you put them in based on the label they wear on their shirt?
  • What could you gain by looking beyond that and seeing the colourful, interesting and engaging person underneath?

Given there is so much we fail to recognise when we see people it’s no surprise that Managers feel frustrated when what they thought was motivating fails to engage some staff. Or that people don’t react in the way we’d expect when we are approaching them as if they are a product that will react in the same way that another person with the same job title did.

If there are breakdowns in communications between your team members or management, if people are not acting in the way you’d hoped and you feel unable to engage them or understand them, there can be great value in having someone else involved to hear things and look at things differently. Then help you make a plan to bring out the best in your people.

If you feel you would benefit from this in your organisation, do get in touch and I’ll gladly see if I can help.



Zoe walker June 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I really enjoyed your blog very valid points as always, glad to be of use :-)

paula June 18, 2012 at 9:38 am

Thanks Zoe – your story makes a really valid point – thanks for letting me share it.

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