Structure and Support for Your Employees

Based on the People Side of Business, you have been hearing from me about the critical need to provide support for your employees.  You have heard how people are not entirely rational beings, that they need nurturance, a family-like atmosphere, and an opportunity for growth and development.

But support is only half the equation. As a critical complement to support, people also need structure.  What do I mean by the term structure?

Structure is the framework of rules and processes necessary to accomplish the goals of your organization. It includes that boring policy and procedure manual people hate to put together.  Structure provides clarity about performance and necessary outcomes. Structure provides rewards and consequences for behavior. You see, taking care of people requires not only that they are nurtured, but that they understand the rules of the game and are rewarded for playing it well.

An organization without structure is disorganized and does not meet its goals.  It lacks clarity of purpose, efficient processes, and necessary outcomes.  Everyone in the organization should understand that they are there to meet the targeted outcomes, and that they will be held accountable to them.

Too many leaders and managers in business think that the notion of accountability and structure is in opposition to that of support and nurturance. From an organizational point of view, structure serves the same goals as support. Boundaries liberate as well as limit. When staff members are clear about limits, they know the arena in which they are free to act, explore, and become creative. Clarity of structure helps people become more secure and autonomous in their roles.  And autonomous people are free to apply their best emotional and rational thinking to solving organizational problems. In fact, a safe and supportive environment can only exist when an organization provides clear limits and accountability.

The need for structure is the fifth principle of the People Side of Business.

More about structure in my coming blogs.

Tom DeMaio, PhD

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