Manage process, not people

It is almost impossible to go a day without hearing someone in a work environment talk about managing people.

It is somewhat normal considering we have been saying this for years.

When I hear this, I usually say no human being should manage another.

I would not want to be managed and I don’t want to manage someone else.

If you look up the word management, by most definitions, the word controlling will come up i.e. controlling people.

Do you really want to be controlled or control someone else?

It is very subtle yet the words we use matter.

I once heard a Human Resources (HR) advisor suggest to a supervisor that they need to manage a staff member more closely in the coming year.

I happened to come across that staff member and they mentioned to me that their supervisor told them they would have to be managed closer in the coming year.

I asked the staff how that was going, and the staff members started laughing out loud. She was planning on making it very difficult for her supervisor to manage her closely in the coming year.

That said, several years ago, a lot of HR professionals started moving away from saying managing people and started saying people managers.

I am not averse to this, yet I have come to prefer the phrase leading people myself.

Leading implies support, guidance, advice, counsel, all more positive leaning than controlling.

Management should be left to budgets, processes, procedures, assets, inventory, information technology, yet not people.

Leading people is much harder than managing processes or inventory.

People are messy, people are complicated, people have feelings, dreams, aspirations, they want to be listened to and heard, not controlled.

One of the most important things I learned during the pandemic was the value of choosing for oneself and being in control of one’s actions and destiny.

All the imposed limitations placed on us during the pandemic was debilitating and made be feel helpless and frustrated and even stressed as a result of not being in control of my own life.

If you are trying to manage people, don’t be surprised if they are frustrated and even stressed and as a result, they might not perform well.

This is likely the opposite of what you want in a position of leadership. I would hope you would want people to perform well.

At the end of the day, manage processes, don’t manage people and even better, lead.