People, Not Resources
Posted on November 3, 2011
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.