Fix the Workplace not the People

How many times do you find yourself locked in mortal combat with someone trying to change you?

It’s as if n-o-t-h-i-n-g is good enough.

Those cryptic comments premised on the idea of ‘feedback’ are nothing more than a slight on your ability.

“Don’t take this personally, but …”.

I spent many years trying to conform.

I felt I was forever tilting at windmills. There was always something that wasn’t q-u-i-t-e right.

None of us are perfect, but how many times did I hear mention of the workplace being the issue or, better still, the people in charge?


The workplace is where we are supposed to do our best work. Where we distil down all our learning, our motivation for the work and generate a predictable (profitable) result.

But what of the workplace? Does it truly enable us to bring everything to bear on making sure that we are successful?

Cubicle slave.

Mind-numbing tedium.

Lack of feedback.

A total lack of transparency about what is really going on.

A place bereft of leadership.

Management that is premised on keeping quiet and behaving yourself.


Sucking up seems more likely to Win you (Un)genuine friends.

At what point will firms realise that their people only have so much give?

Right now your people are ensnared by virtue of the (poor) economic situation and the lack of opportunity elsewhere, but it won’t take many green shoots to see a whole slew of people rise up, take a stand and head for the wide open door called “Exit to a Better Workplace”.

Servant leadership is one thing but fixing what is wrong should be your number one priority. Dare you send round a survey asking what seven things your staff would change.  You might be surprised at the response (or perhaps not!).

For me, bringing a sense of fun, thinking holistically about the well-being of everyone and making sure that you give regular and meaningful feedback (saying “Thank You” would be massive step in the right direction) would be an excellent start. Of course, the money counts for a lot now but, that being so, what about a bonus system that rewards people ‘on the spot’ and isn’t dependent on a set of contrived criteria? Or just a small gift or a hand-written note.

Appreciation is so powerful.

But lest not forget that the ‘workplace’ is fundamentally a people paradigm. It is not fixed by memo from Human Resources or an email that is as cold as ice. It requires people to people contact. It means understanding people before you can fix the place that they want to work within. And most of all it requires you care.

Lay down your preconceptions and go to work on the organisation. Accept that it is broke but with patience and passion you can change the hearts, minds and attitude of the people who serve it so brilliantly.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *