People: The Most Critical Variable in the Equation

Every quarter, Flycast Partners publishes a newsletter spotlighting our recent webinars and blogs, announcing upcoming events, and providing a closer look into our company culture. Normally, I am asked to participate with an article revolving around something non-IT related, topics like mentoring, leading, and building teams to execute at highly proficient levels. Considering my past contributions, I realize I have overlooked the principle element consistent across all these subjects: people.

In today’s business environments, the focus is on profits and loss, strategies, product lines, market niches, marketing personas, and other items defining a successful business entity, but I think there are more times than not that we forget that people comprise the most critical variable in the equation. In many different types of business, leadership has a tendency to view all their valuable resources, including people, as interchangeable as the parts of a machine. If this is the case, with resources/people as the input, one can be removed and another can be inserted without disturbing the overarching process or impacting the desired outcome.

In some instances, replacement in this manner may be the solution, but I would argue this mentality is not always a key to success. Often, it can be detrimental to the organization.

People are unique. Each has their own voice and personal drivers like financial gain, recognition, or quality of life. Not to mention, to motivate themselves to execute at a specific level, they have needs, wants, and goals. From an operational standpoint, it is imperative to prepare teammates for success, putting them in situations where their personal drivers can be beneficial, their uniqueness harnessed as an asset.

It is in this context I center the following example. In late September, a horrible hurricane hit Florida, causing mass destruction in its path. As an organization with over a third of its staff in areas forecasted to be in this path, we began to prepare for the hurricane early in the week, prioritizing our Flycast teammates.

Assessing the potential impact, we did our best to establish an optimal accountability and support mechanism possible in this instance. We reviewed our inclement weather plan, met with each teammate who might be impacted, set up daily check-in procedures, and established a Teams channel for everyone to discuss anything and everything related to the hurricane. As it approached landfall, leadership had meetings to discuss the impact and the welfare of people and families during preparation, time of the actual hurricane, and recovery, I mention this not to tout our plan, but as a reminder that with little warning there is a need within business to abruptly shift attention to the unexpected, the unforecastable, to large obstacles not anticipated, discussed, or budgeted for months ago when thinking about the challenges of the oncoming year or devising quarterly strategies.

Focusing on the safety of each teammate and their family members, not profits and losses, our recommendation was to leave the area and move inland. Still, there is something inherently unique about people. Each personality will assess the moment from their own perspective, and in most cases, this is not consistent from teammate to teammate.

We had teammates dealing with their first hurricane, asking what to do, and there were those with multiple hurricane seasons under their belts, responding with bravado, “I will ride it out like Lieutenant Dan in Forest Gump.” Many had checklists with well-thought-out arrangements, while others had plans that were simply reactionary, but each was unique to the individual, with safety and comfort the core themes. There were no correct answers, only individual perspectives on an impending catastrophic event.

That is what makes the understanding of people so important in business. As an enterprise, we had an action plan, but the teammates as individuals had their own as well, and they were steadfast in executing them based on what they felt was most relevant at the specific time.

How had they assessed the pros and cons of staying? What factors weighed one course from the other? What resources were at their disposal?

As the hurricane progressed across Florida, Flycast could ensure all managers knew the whereabouts and conditions of their team members.

Businesses cannot feasibly acquiesce to every need or want from each individual employee. Still, I think the more we understand the importance of each contributing member of the organization, including their personal drivers, the more effective a team can become, ultimately resulting in higher performance levels. Morale would be greater, individual motivation would be stronger, personal initiative would be present, and overall employee satisfaction would be improved. Our team was extremely fortunate and had a minimal impact during the hurricane, but each teammate understood our willingness to put them first.

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