CAS 2015 – I’m a person, not a resource by David Fernández González

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David Fernández, Scrum master & Software engineer, gave a really excellent and wonderful speech about the eternal dilemma of the resource vs person topic when it comes to the contractual relationship of your own self and your professional skills with your employer and the people that are part of it.

“I dream of changing the world”. What a sentence, huh? When we can say this with an optimistic and inspired perspective is when we’re challenging our comfort zone and feel able to actually do it.

So, are you a person and not a resource? No, you’re not. To your employer, you are above everything else, a resource. That is the basic relationship you established the moment you signed the contract.

Whenever we say things like this is how things are done here or we don’t have enough resources to do this, we’re basically doing exactly the opposite of being inspired. But when we are, we are being a person, and becoming better resources because of that. And there’s good news, we’ve all been “a person” since long before we started our professional lives.

And you are, as a person, the who actually make your company grow. Therefore, your company should focus in developing the people that work for them. The company builds the people, then the people build the business. By developing the people’s confidence and trust on a human and two-way street basis, the company invests dramatically in what’s indeed its biggest asset. And this trust can be based in three pillars:

Freedom:

Heterogeneity, fellowship, leadership and interconnection. Techniques like pair programming encourage this fellowship feeling, and will avoid the Bus factor: remove completely the dependency of a specific person in case a bus runs over them. Of course, this is just an exaggerated and hilarious way to refer to it, but we really mean things like annual leave, sick absence, etc. Some people might think pair programming leads to anarchy, but it actually creates many leaders. Leaving specific tasks to the experts in the subject is, effectively, a big mistake in the long term. An absolute fact is that multifunctional and self-managed teams is always the best solution. Teams should complete each gap with their respective talents.

Laszlo Bock, SVP of operations at Google, said people with talent would go to companies that would give them more freedom (and of course, the company would decide whether they want to keep them). And by the way, Google also names his HR department People management.

Of course, recruitment is KEY to choose the right people and needs to have special attention from the employer.

Motivation:

Goals, development, communication and investment. The person needs to be motivated right from the start and keep this initial motivation and create engaged employers.

On one hand, we have to explain clearly what the goals of the organization are, and how the success of the organization contributes to their own. Seeing the real use of the work we do always contributes to boosting up motivation. On the other hand, a personal development plan is extremely important to seal that trust, and most importantly, listen to the employee and understand what the person wants to do in the long term, not forcing them to go to paths they don’t want to walk.

Last but not least, and like Henry Ford said, the only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is NOT training them and having them stay. By not training employees, the company will be the only one that will be affected in the end.

Engaged employees need to be given goals, self-development, avoid feeling stuck. Realistic and honest feedback is extremely important as well. Constant and frequent. Also, invest in their development. By not doing this this, they will eventually leave.

Then we come to the salary issue. Everyone works for money. That is a fact. A good professional will always want to earn the more the better… but not at every cost. There’s the concept of emotional salary that, once covered, that extra amount will not add up anything else. If an employee has its basic needs covered, giving this person more money at the expense of their time will be of no use. Money isn’t worth it if you don’t have time to enjoy it.

Happiness:

It is the journey that counts, not the destination.

Jonathan Haidt.

We have to be happy on an everyday basis. We have to smile and just by doing this we make a huge difference. We need to conciliate our professional life with our personal one. The person that lives outside the office is also the person who lives inside it, and there’s no way to separate this.

I am I and my circumstances.

Jose Ortega y Gasset.

Flexibility, open schedules, working from home are very important elements. The opposite to this would be the extreme office presence, employees sitting at their desks just for the sake of giving a false impression of working more. Long coffee breaks. Long lunch breaks… all to fake a sense of productivity that does not exist, or just to please their bosses. Productivity isn’t about working hours; it is about working more pleasantly. People who work long won’t make everyone see they are working more; it’ll reflect everyone else work less.

Above this all, we need to have kindness into account. “Hello”, “Please”, “Excuse me”, “See you” and “Thanks” used regularly with a smile make a HUGE difference in the working environment. And funnily enough, this is something we always try to teach our children but we tend not to use it ourselves.

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Freedom + Motivation + Happiness = Confidence. This is the trust the company needs to build with the employee. But also knowing that trust and excess of trust sometimes has a blurry border. An excess of trust can lead to assumptions that can be dangerous and this also needs control. Tricky but doable.

We might be resources. But we can be far more than that. Only by applying the best practices on trust between company and employee and working as human beings we can reach that inspiring sentence about changing the world.

As usual, the whole speech is available in Youtube… in perfect Spanish. Worth having a look if you understand it!.

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