Data, materials, and resources can be managed, directed and controlled. That is because they are all things: unmoving until we choose to move them.
People however, as you probably have noticed, have minds of their own. They bring their own unique set of wants, needs, and experiences to any situation. Other people can play havoc with your plans for accomplishing objectives. People are not neat or easy to control. People are messy.
If you could accomplish your business objectives and goals without other people, you just might. However, many of us need others to accomplish organizational, and departmental objectives and professional and personal goals.
Often, the tasks as well as the changes that need to be implemented are important to the very survival and success of your organization. All the talk about “helping people cope with change” and ‘manage through transition’ may strike a boss as needless, not to mention messy. It’s possible that many view the role of management as that of one who tells people what to do, and then they do it. Although it may seem like people used to do just that, today simple, unquestioning compliance is seen less frequently.
Tom Peters said that we must thrive on chaos but few employees (and few managers) are interested in such an exhaustive routine. And, there seems to be no tolerance for any margin for error. Mishandling situations can result in a loss of profit, customers, reputation, and an increase in turnover, litigation, and complaints.
Some folks steer clear of these sort of challenges and difficulties because the people side of things is not their strong suit. You may be one of those people who is better at the functional tasks – getting out the product, delivering the service, providing the professional assistance — than you are at managing the people who do those things. It may be that you do not have the skills, the time, the patience, or the training to be a psychologist, a counselor or a coach. You don’t want to get into all that messy personal stuff. You just want to get the results.
I sympathize. After several years of working with all kinds or people at every organizational level, I remain convinced that you simply cannot get the results you are after without getting into the ”personal, messy” stuff. Results may depend on getting people to stop doing things the old way and start doing things a new way. It’s highly unlikely at you will be able to do those things impersonally and expect much success.
You do not need a degree in psychology to manage people well. You are already using basic psychology every time you try to guess a motive, figure out a tactful way to handle a difficult situation, or find a way to communicate effectively.
Assisting people to change behavior, get the desired results, or see the value of giving up an old way of doing things is not it easy; it’s essential. Working with others requires an ability to get a bit messy.