People, Not Resources

I’ve got a bit of a rant in my head, though I sus­pect it makes me sound old. I can’t help but think about how the world has changed, though in fact, I don’t really know if it’s the world or me that’s changed.

I’m work­ing on a new project around reg­u­la­tory com­pli­ance in the health­care space. Just so hap­pens the topic’s on the front page of the NY Times Busi­ness sec­tion today. Arti­cle titled “Con­flicts on Heath Guide­line Panels”.

Suf­fice it to say, the gov­ern­ment is enforc­ing com­pli­ance with rules to pre­vent crony­ism in the health­care space. I applaud the attempt, it’s important.

How­ever, as we were going over the processes and rules around the project, an inter­est­ing thing came up.

Let’s say you’re hav­ing a health­care con­fer­ence in San Diego and you want an indus­try expert to speak. You have an expert in NYC, and you fly them to San Diego for the con­fer­ence. Part of the fee the health­care expert receives includes travel arrange­ments. And, for argument’s sake, let’s say the con­fer­ence is in Feb­ru­ary — a time when all NYers love to get some­where warm like San Diego for a few days.

The gov­ern­ment could find that com­pany in breach of com­pli­ance for using an expert from NY if there is an “equiv­a­lent expert” located in San Diego.

How do they define “equiv­a­lent expert”? By resume. There are de facto stan­dards around clas­si­fi­ca­tion — includ­ing items like num­ber of arti­cles pub­lished, or edu­ca­tion, or spe­cialty, etc.

This idea that two peo­ple with sim­i­lar qual­i­fi­ca­tions are inter­change­able pisses me off. Peo­ple are not “resources”, peo­ple are peo­ple. I know I can be hard to work with some­times. That said, I’ve devel­oped some fan­tas­tic work­ing rela­tion­ships over the years. And, as a pro­fes­sional I cul­ti­vate rela­tion­ships so that I can win busi­ness. So that I have a rep­u­ta­tion that puts me in play for the best projects out there.

It’s the rela­tion­ship that mat­ters. It’s the per­son. Their per­son­al­ity, their con­text, their actual expe­ri­ence that’s often built up over time and rep­re­sented as TRUST.

Sure, in my exam­ple it would be great if they had work­ing rela­tion­ships with two experts, who were both avail­able, and both inter­ested in the con­fer­ence — and they picked the one that min­i­mized travel costs for the event. How­ever, some­times it’s worth pay­ing just a lit­tle more to con­tinue to build a relationship.

What really burns me up about this, is that it’s so indica­tive of what’s going on in the cor­po­rate world too. The “com­pany” used to pro­vide a social infra­struc­ture to con­nect peo­ple around a com­mon pur­pose. We’d develop rela­tion­ships within the orga­ni­za­tion that help us do our jobs better.

There doesn’t seem to be as much of this as their used to be. I’ll share a story to illus­trate the point, just in case you’ve got your head in a hole and don’t see this. A friend used to be in man­age­ment at UPS. Every year, man­age­ment would run the Thanks­giv­ing turkey give-away. Employ­ees would stop by and pick up their hol­i­day turkey. Man­age­ment would chat with them, be able to put a face to the name, check in on how they’re doing.

To “save money” they don’t do that any­more. Now, peo­ple get a check in the mail. No more bond­ing. No more “feel­ing the pulse”. Same turkey. Less cost. Fewer con­nec­tions being built within the organization.

This is what’s killing sat­is­fac­tion at work. This is what’s killing the orga­ni­za­tion. We’ve turned peo­ple into resources, and totally deval­ued the “relationship”.

First rule of sales — “Peo­ple buy from peo­ple”. OK, maybe not the first rule, but it’s a rule. Peo­ple help peo­ple. Rela­tion­ship build­ing builds trust. Trust makes peo­ple go the extra mile. You never know when you’ll need it, but when you do, it sure is nice to have.

It’s impor­tant that the gov­ern­ment reg­u­late out crony­ism. On the other hand, it’s not as easy as it seems. And, I sus­pect we’re going to go in the wrong direc­tion for a bit, before we real­ize what we’ve lost. A shame really, because per­son­ally, I know I work much bet­ter when I like the peo­ple I’m work­ing with and I work hard to get to know them to build fun-combined-with-professional relationships.

Rela­tion­ships I have with peo­ple, not with resources.

My Brain. Your Inbox. Perfect Together.

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