Depersonalized Structure for Your Employees

Working as a psychologist and business management consultant, there is no question that people need structure to successfully accomplish their goals.  But structure must be as carefully implemented as the support side of the equation.  Let me explain.

People can actually like rules, guidelines, requirements and goals when they are done in a particular way.  In my earlier posts on the need to nurture staff I stated that people are incredibly sensitive to rejection.  Rejection through the experience of personal criticism and failure are primary worries for people at work. Management can buffer worries about rejection by offering structure implemented in a supportive and depersonalized manner.

You see, the policies and procedures, and the ultimate outcomes of the organization are not personal.  They need to be achieved because they are there; because they constitute the purpose of the organization. It is not because the staff isn’t important that the goals must be accomplished.  And people can easily understand this.

Consequently you apply structure universally and in an impersonal, across-the-board manner for optimal effect.  When the rules apply to everyone, people accept them—even if the rules require them to change their behavior pretty dramatically. The rules constitute the way business is conducted.

Of course, management has the critical role of reviewing the performance of its employees.  Most importantly, this is not a personal judgment, but a review of how closely the employee met the requirements of their role in the organization. The review attempts to clarify the needs of the role and performance criteria attached to it.

Employees have a difficult time not personalizing this process.  They tend to equate comments about their performance with their actual personal value as a human being.  Your job becomes separating the performance from the person.

Having the structure be depersonalized allows management to really get behind their people with maximal support.  The message becomes, “How can we help you achieve your goals for the company and be successful here?”  Management cares for people because they want their workers to be successful – for themselves and the company.

Tom DeMaio, PhD

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