lean, teamwork

The fear for human cooperation

What does man holds back to achieve an effective human cooperation? Do we really sufficiently take into account the human factor and the removal of fear, or do we lose ourselves in superb technological solutions developed by our leading experts, which then get bogged down in good intentions?

The success of an enterprise depends in the first place is with it’s employees. From shop floor to management. People in the organization are the unifying factor, and without them, procedures, processes and resources have no relevance. It is curious that many organizations in the event of problems, usually escape into technological solutions and the human factor, with all its emotions, gets little attention. This in spite of all publications and seminars in the field of Human Development. It’s hard to deal with something so elusive in the organization, such as human emotions.

Fear has different manifestations. It can be broadly classified as the fear of damage to the physical condition of the person, such as fear of violence. Second, the fear of damage to personal dignity and integrity. This dignity may be affected as a person for his environment “fails”. A worker in a highly competitive environment, will do everything possible to prevent errors. That will lead to better performance but will also hide encourage to hide his failure. Hiding failure is made more difficult when the employee must work with others. Mistakes are visible par excellence. For an employee who is not performing optimally, not exactly an attractive prospect.

“A sample from an organisation in the food industry. The organisation in question had to do with much loss in efficiency at its production lines. A lot of waste, disruption and downtime. Production reports were often incomplete and the summary of the financial figures were confusing. The responsible manager had a very complex way of calculation. Attempts on my part to understand the figures, resulted in a huge mess of data and refusal of management to get the figures clear. The fear was evident. The manager was not in control of his organization. And, in its efforts to resist critics from the parent company, the organisation was fenced with complex calculations and a deluge of data. The deadlock was finally broken by offering a number of unsolicited solutions that I had forwarded to the Manager, so that on his initiative this could be presented to the parent company. I avoided that he suffered loss of face. Which was his primal fear “

On the other hand, an employee who performs very well, will be reluctant to share his success. The fear of disappearing into the crowd and thus losing its profile in a competitive environment is not attractive. Especially when others have the ability to match his level or even exceed. Nobody wants to lose face and certainly not to a group. There will be a stalemate. For this reason, it is not advisable to put together a group that only estaat from top experts. Provide differentiation and specialization. [1]

There is also something called the fear of the territory. People are often urged to prove their added value as a person, but also for their function. Few are brave enough to say: Erase my function as it obsolete. People continually add new dimensions to their work, so that the value of the function is maintained. But is it really value for the company?

“The purchase employee at an international manufacturer of printers, had an impressive spreadsheet with all the information from the long-term prognosis for purchase and specified by region and country. To update the spreadsheet was a full-time job. The strange thing was that most of the information also was recorded in SAP. Were not the reports in SAP enough? These reports were different in layout, but it contained the same information. After some time it became clear that the knowledge and experience with SAP on this particular employee remained underdeveloped. The spreadsheet was from the pre-SAP era and was due to the introduction of SAP unnecessary. With it the value of the employee. Since no one had really had an eye for the employee was able to maintain this unrealistic value. “

The spreadsheet clearly represented another fear among people. The fear of losing control. Because the environment in which we operate, is increasingly complex and we have less information on the trends, people tend to incorporate more checks whether those controls are effective. “Man would rather prefer a fake check, then there is no control.” In the book “Notables” [2] PhD. J. Geurts, beautifully described this emotional reflex based on American research in this area.

“The organization had a monthly financial reporting from about 30 to 50 pages. Both the employees and the management spent a lot of time on their part on the report. Many spreadsheets, charts, and more bits of text with a lot of explanation. With the increase in workload and the customer base, the report was expanded. The monthly management meetings took over the whole day. It was unclear where the organization went to [vision] while the customer dissatisfaction stadily started to grow . There was simply no time for customer issues due to the huge internal administrative pressure. The management forgot to recalibrate its controls and to determine what the real leverage is based on a clear vision and customer oriented goals. “

The fear of the collaboration in our society and within performance-driven organizations is not as strange as it seems. Risk aversion is part of human nature and demonstrated in feelings of fear. The culture of performance-oriented organization, management styles, performance orientation, etc, contributes to this. It suppresses the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit among employees while taking risks and the probability of failure is a need for an organization to continue to develop and innovate.

The success of the collaboration will be determined less by technical solutions, but rather by the acceptance of this attitude. Behavior is essential to changing circumstances. [3] We are to busy with implementing new techniques then facing the real challenge of human behavior. The technical models that we use, clearly show the benefits, but we tend to forget that the human being is a subjective and instinctive act, which is not easily conform to the models used.

The importance of the quality of management becomes apparent when it comes to making the connection between the models. The profit emerge from the models are not always perceived as such by the employees. Their agenda, which is at least as important, it is often another. It is often forgotten. Managers and executives must realize that, even though they can be an expert in their field. Management is a skill that is not controlled by anyone. “Anyone can drive a nail into a piece of wood, but not everyone is a carpenter”

Rita Levi-Montalcini [4], almost prophetic statement about the necessity of taking risks and the need for it to innovate and solve problems:

I have become persuaded that, in scientific research, neither the degree of one’s intelligence, nor the ability to carry out one’s task with thoroughness and precision are factors essential to personal success and fulfillment. More important for the attaining of both ends are total dedication and a tendency to underestimate difficulties, which causes one to tackle problems that other, more critical  and acute persons instead opt to avoid”

1] http://www.managersonline.nl/nieuws/8586/prestatiebeloning-verslechtert-prestaties.html
2] “Kopstukken”. Auteur. Jeroen Geurts. ISBN: 9789055946655. 1e editie. Neurologic approach of human behavior
3] Definition of madness:”Continuing to manage the business as you have always managed it, and believing that somehow, mysteriously, things will change and improve.”
4] Rita Levi-Montalcini. Italian neuro scientist. Winner Nobelprice Fysiology of Medicine