How to solve the people vs system problem?
Managers often assume that most of the organisational problems that occur, are the people. Employees often state the most of the organisational problems that occur, are the systems.This leads us to the question of what is most important, the people or the system? The resounding answer is both!
In any organisation we find there are lots of systems – formal, as well as informal. Systems are a good thing. Systems are the structures that our work is framed within. Without them we have confusion, disorder, and chaos.
However, systems are only as good as the people who make them, and apply them.
We need to have the right systems in place for the people to be at their best, to support and enhance their performance, satisfaction in their role and have high levels of productivity. If we lose sight of the people, we have already lost! Many organisations seem to have forgotten this important fact!
People are the key asset in any organisation and need to be considered the most valuable part. Without them we have no companies, no clients, no employers, no employees. Without focusing on the people, we lose the human touch, the emotional distinction of humanity and the fun factor.
When we encounter problems within organisations whether it is with performance, quality, or productivity – who is held responsible? The people or the system? We can either “blame” the system or the people!
We either step back and say – the system needs fixing and nothing will change until it does, or we blame the person closest to the problem. This is called fundamental attribution error – when we over emphasise the personal characteristics or individual’s disposition and ignore the situational system factors; i.e. we blame the people not the system.
If we wait until the system changes and step into feeling disempowered then we are relegating any responsibility we have as humanity to make a difference. We are saying that we have no control over anything, not even ourselves. Yet this is precisely what we can control – We can control the controllables, ourselves.
We can put our hand up and call something out, we can decline to be part of something that is not aligned with our values, we can stand up for justice and equity within any workplace if we unite together as people. Instead of abrogating any responsibility for the situation or the harmful behaviours of others, we can make a stand by speaking up, creating alliances for good, to create a change in the system.
We need to recognise that the system is only as good as the people who put it in place. The system is only as good as the people operating it. The system is only as good as the highlighted mistakes, near misses and failures that result from working within the system.
So, to the people – Here is your call to action:
- Keep your eyes and ears open
- Be present and notice any near misses, failures, faults, or harmful behaviours
- Do not sweep them under the mat or ignore them
- Do not just look for someone to blame
- Acknowledge and embrace mistakes as feedback demanding action
- Identify and call out harmful behaviours
- Highlight and openly discuss mistakes at all levels
Yes, this takes courage, but the ramifications of how this can “fix” the system is HUGE! If we work in an open and authentic environment then we will not be quick to point the finger, blame and shame others, or promote ourselves as the ‘victim’. We will support each other with openness, honesty with the aim of getting the best out of each person, within the system.
Authentic Leaders believe and work from the basis that people will do amazing things when given the right tools, the appropriate environment and the supportive systems to create positive, open, and accountable work-place cultures. They make it a priority to recognise and build people’s innate strengths within whatever system they are in, to champion the unique individuals within the team.
It is both the people and the system that must be created in a way that each person can flourish. To enhance productivity, cultivate a culture of excellence and support a way forward for both the organisations and the individuals, to work symbiotically together.
We all need to continue to grow and develop – What is your step of bravery that you will do this week?