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People Are Not Cogs in a Machine

Submitted by  on March 9th, 2011

Recognize This: Individuals bring much more to your workplace than their skill or ability.

In a recent post on Fistful of Talent, Josh Letourneau related the story of Bob. An average, some might even say “mediocre,” employee with no stand-out defining elements of his performance that raised a red-flag when he handed in his resignation. The HR pro figured she’d just replace Bob with a similarly skilled employee.

As Josh points out, the HR pro is missing the key trigger here. Bob is not a cog in a machine that can be switched out. Bob’s connections – his interactions with others, his conversations, his relationships – that’s what made Bob a valuable contribution to the organization. If you insist on the “machine” metaphor, losing Bob would be more equivalent to removing both the Bob “cog” and all the surrounding gears, springs and connecting wires.

Work today is more about the networks we interact in, the people we interact with as we transact business. When we lose an employee, either through actual leaving the workplace or just disengagement in the work, we lose all they bring with their networks and interactions on a daily basis.

Let’s stop looking at our employees as parts in a machine that can be easily replaced and start noticing them for what they are – important elements to how we all work who are fundamentally caring, feeling beings who need appreciation for their work and validation that what they do has meaning.

Where you work today are you seen as a cog in a machine or important contributor within a much wider network?

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