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Making the Business Case for People

Over the years I have worked with many organizations, corporations and associations that choose to make the business case for their decisions. Typically, that means evaluating the impact on the bottom line, assessing a return on investment or determining whether the decision will further advance the financial position of the organization. It usually implies that you take the people out of the decisions. It can suggest that it is more logical or sound decision-making when you do not use the people within the organization as a factor to make decisions. While making decisions for an organization that are financially sound is a key element to being successful, I would argue you are missing the most vital component to any workplace, the people.

The people doing the work are key to executing the mission, vision and strategic plan of any organization. Removing the staff or team members from any decision-making process removes the heart from the work. The impact on and thoughts of the staff needs to be evaluated in any decision as it will ultimately have an impact on the bottom line. Not considering their perspectives can impact productivity and even staff turnover. This ultimately impacts any organizations bottom line and can result in lost revenue.

So how can an organization put the people back into the decision-making process? Consider these tactics below to engage the people side of your organization into any decision-making process.

Strategically and consistently get staff feedback

  • Use surveys, as well as face to face (or video) team and individual meetings. Provide multiple modalities for feedback to engage in varying levels of comfort for staff.

Involve people at all levels in the decision-making process.

  • Engage each team member for their unique perspective regardless of position or responsibilities.

Ask important questions about what the impact will be on them.

  • What challenges are they experiencing?
  • What strengths do they possess that the organization can leverage towards success?
  • What ways will a proposed policy impact your work? (paying particular attention to how equitably or inequitably policies impact your staff)
  • What ways will this policy impact you personally? (paying particular attention to how equitably or inequitably policies impact your staff)
  • What improvements would they suggest?
  • What do they like or dislike about a proposed plan?

Be transparent about decisions.

  • Let staff know what decisions team members can have feedback on and those they cannot. Some decisions will need to be made by a leadership team, just be clear about what those are. Team members will likely appreciate the honesty and will lean into the decisions they can provide meaningful feedback on.

Provide clients or consumers a way to connect meaningfully with the people who make up our organizations.

  • Consumers often do not just choose organizations to support join or purchase from based on products or services, but also based on their relationships with staff or team members.

You might wonder where the customer perspective fits into all this. From my experience organizations are accustomed to considering the customer in their decision making. They see the direct relationship to their bottom line. Often times the customer perspective takes precedence over the people working within the organization. The idea of “the customer is always right” insinuates that their opinion and perspective is more valued than that of the people working within any given organization or business. In our current environment, customers value more than ever how organizations treat their employees. Thus, considering your employees and the impact decisions have on them matters to your consumer as well.

Overall, the important piece is adding the people into your decision-making process in as many ways possible. The people ARE your organization. They are who carries forward the work and implements the plans. Without considering them, you are missing the full picture.

Consider this your challenge today. Reject traditional thinking that somehow factoring in the people doing the work will cloud your decision or result in one that does not accomplish the overall goal. Now more than ever we need to connect to the human side of our work and the people that make up our organization. Considering all aspects of how decisions impact them, equitably and inequitably. Consider making the business case for the people. Without that we are missing the heart of our organizations and the ripple effect can be great. What can you do today to make your business case for your people?

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