Are your people cogs in a wheel?

Employees are still worried about losing their job. Teams are stretched to fit a mountain of work unrealistically paced and planned. The pressure to perform, produce, ship is ratcheted up a notch or two. What we have is a revving up of output-energy that cannot be sustained.

The outcome: people will fail. Projects will fail. People will burn out.

As a leader your response to these failures is vital. Punish people for failure and watch the pressure-cooker combust. Watch talented employees leave. Watch profits calcify. Watch progress become mediocre.

Without a doubt the pressure to perform, excel, grab market share is topic du jour in boardrooms. Let us not forget that performance, excellence, new products and services are not possible without the talents of people.

Your people are not replaceable cogs in a mechanistic wheel. They are not easily replaceable in today’s job market.

In this era, we need leaders who take to heart the importance of creating an environment of optimism, of possibility. We need leaders who value people first. In such an environment people’s talents and ideas are revealed, applied and shared. Second and third chances are available. Organizations chances of thriving are greater. Period.

Contents of this post original appeared in Shawn’s previous blog, Achieved Strategies.

Art by Crucio

Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of Switch and Shift. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

  • Peter Borner


    I am seeing exactly this situation at the moment. Pressure is on and is being ratcheted up Handling it wrong could so easily lead to a staff retention problem. Fortunately, we have a great team and we pride ourselves in being open, honest and forgiving. Let’s hope that is enough!

    Great post, as usual. I love reading your work.


  • Alan Kay

    As I always say, people are the last frontier of organizational sustainability, growth and productivity. We had the industrial revolution, the technology revolution and now we have the people revolution. Good leadership, strategic alignment and culture are the way forward. Wither our organizations need to be more innovative, productive, etc., etc., success will come from constantly enhancing the capabilities of the people.

  • Al Smith

    Love this Shawn. Short and to the point. I agree totally. “We need leaders who value people first” sums it up. I am actually working on my next post, which is very similar.

    Thanks again for all you do. Take CARE.


  • Shawn Murphy

    Hi Peter,
    We’re anticipating another wave of workforce impacts for our government clients. Unfortunately I think it will get worse before better. And what you point out is exactly what I hope managers do in these scenarios: build on your team’s strengths and make sure they know how valued they are. It may not always be enough, but it can be the start of making it so.

    I appreciate you support, too. It’s great to meet like-minded people from around the globe isn’t it?!


  • Shawn Murphy

    We’re eager to read it, Al. Be well.

  • Shawn Murphy

    I always look forward to reading your comments. They’re always thoughtful. I’ve signed up to help the people revolution. I know you have also.

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    There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

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