People in the workplace – why getting it right helps…a simple view.

Many thousands (millions?) of words have been written and published about commercial success and “getting it right” in the workplace…factors that affect it, how to achieve it and so on. This is not by any means a lame attempt at a success manual, or a focus on one of those factors to explain a theory. It’s just a cautionary note regarding one of the factors that affects the delicately balanced workplace equation.

Many things drive a business forward towards commercial success, including the following:

  • Ensuring products and services offered are fit for purpose and of sufficient quality, and meet the client brief
  • Employ the right people for the job, and invest in their training, so they can help with the above
  • Ensure those people have the right kit to work with and a suitable environment* to work in
  • Ensure those people are welcomed into the team and continue to feel included to feel part of the effort

* This and what makes it up could be a lengthy essay in itself!

There are of course many other things that affect commercial success and drive it forwards, but the points noted above are amongst those at the core. In a workplace utopia they’d all work together in seamless harmony, but sadly getting the balance right can be tricky.

I have worked in places where the “company culture” is prized above all other things. People are employed and subsequently promoted if they fit an existing template; If two candidates present for the same vacancy, one more suited in ability and experience, and another in personality / public-facing persona, the latter would get the job. This has been something I’ve seen on a few occasions since moving back to my native Bristol area from the London area. Staff tend to be either younger and early in their career, or older and have been with the company for a long time – frequently, there are very few in between (and often those “in between” don’t stay very long). My experience of working in London was a lot less affected by so-called company culture, and people bought into a work ethic above all other things. Arguably a more impersonal / large corporate thing possibly.

Another culture-related issue in the workplace is the close-knit team, far more apparent with smaller firms. In theory, admirable. As a long-time player of team sports I can honestly say the camaraderie brought about by closeness with teammates is fantastic…and with the right people it could be too in the workplace. Commercial success often brings with it the need for expansion, and I have worked in places where this has happened rapidly. New people coming into the business often feel a little isolated, witnessing first hand the closeness of existing employees and team members, and feel isolated a little as a result. This is especially so at present, where covid-19 has had people working from home, and then they start returning to the workplace and are reunited in person with esteemed colleagues. Some may say the onus is on the “newbies” to join in, but it never hurts for them to be invited. That’s definitely a two-way street.

In conclusion, people are definitely very important to the workplace…getting the rights ones in the right place, with the right support. Workplace culture and values are important too, but we shouldn’t lose sight of individuals amongst that as it could mean losing out on a valuable contribution skill-set wise. To those who feel they may be lost in a culture cloud, or feeling like an outsider in a close-knit team I say this: At your absolute best you won’t be good enough for the wrong people. But at your worst, you’ll still be worth it to the right ones. Remember that. Keep holding on.

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