Analytical 3: Give Them What They Want

29 July, 2016


When you’re hired by a company the role we end up doing often changes. How do we balance what needs to be done with giving people what they want to do.

Transcript available
[Music] Everything can be improved, iterated and refined. If you don't think that's true, maybe you haven't analysed it enough. Calculated choices, carefully considered, absolutely analytical. Analytical is part of the Engineered Network. our shows including this one, head over to our Patreon page and for other great shows, visit today. Give them what they want. No, I'm not talking about the media, mass media. I think that was out of a 007 movie. Yeah, it was too, wasn't it? Yes, give them what they want. That's what James Bond said. Anyway, never mind that. Give them what they want. When you've got people working for you and you have have to set their tasks. It's a difficult line to walk. The business has a basic set of needs and requirements, things that need to be delivered. The individuals in it, well they have things that they like to do, things that they want to do. What I found is that there is one universal truth. Everybody wants to decide what they get to work on. They want to have some control. People think that rising higher in an organization means that you get more control over what you want to do, but it's just not true. The Venn diagram that overlaps, I have a thing for Venn diagrams, I need to get over that, never mind. The Venn diagram that overlaps between what people want and what the business needs is the ideal place to be in that overlap if you can achieve that. Now how easy or how hard that is depends on the individual in the position of authority, But ultimately, it also lies with the individual's perception of reality and what they're prepared to accept. It's impossible to know if people are happy or unhappy, or at least not for sure, unless you can crawl inside their head, which may not be a good idea even if it was possible, because people hide things from you and from others for all sorts of reasons, good reasons and bad reasons. If you spend your entire time as a manager trying to figure out what someone wants from a job and trying to give that to them to stop them from leaving, to keep them engaged, then you'll either annoy the other people in the group that see that as preferential treatment or they'll just leave anyway no matter what you do. Because people will leave no matter what you do because they've just decided, "Oh, they want to go and live in another city," or they just don't like the coffee in the basement or whatever. they've met someone on the internet from the other side of the world and they want to move around the world. They're getting bored and they just don't want to work at that company anymore. There's all sorts of reasons, a million reasons probably if you add them all up. And even then, there's probably more than that. So, if we think about it, then when people join an organisation, there's, I suppose, there's sort of an implied contract of sorts, an expectation about the kind of work that that person's going to be doing when they're working for the company How many times I've joined an organization and I was told "John, you're gonna be doing one thing, this specific thing, you'll be working for this person and you'll be doing this stuff, whatever this stuff might be, that's what you're gonna be doing" And I'm like, "Yep, got it, fantastic, love it" But the fact is that I end up doing something completely different I'm imagining that a lot of people go through this based on people I've spoken to over my life. It certainly seems to be pretty typical behaviour. You get hired to do one thing, you end up doing something completely different. And for the longest time, I would blame those organisations. And when I say blame, I mean varying degrees of frustration, but you know, I'd be saying, "Well, you know, shake your fist. Come on. This isn't what I signed up for, right? It's not what I signed up for. I want a refund." Whatever. So, you know, I blame those organisations or even the individuals that hired me, you know, like when you hired me, you said I'd do this, you know, but somehow that they had done me wrong by not giving me what they said they were going to. So, I would blame them. But they really didn't do anything wrong because I've come to see that jobs evolve, companies evolve and people obviously evolve. but the moment that they selected me for the job, and this is the moment, perhaps even going further back, the moment that they decided to put an advertisement to attract attention, to get people to submit resumes for that job. From the point at which that happened, the point of conception of I need another person in the group, in the organisation, to them actually getting you on board. In most remoderate to large organisations can be many, many months. And my record is five months. So, you know, that can be quite a while. And the moment that they select you for that job, they probably had the right intention about what you would work on and what you'd be doing, the sorts of stuff they had in mind for you. But as time passes, jobs evolve and roles and projects change and people have no option but to change with it. Having done this for a while now, all I really personally want to do is to have a positive impact on an organization, to try and move it forward, try and make it better, fix things that are broken wherever I can and hopefully not break things in the process. I can never give anyone exactly what they want because I don't think anyone can. No organization can. Not even one that you would choose to run yourself. It's a lie. It pretends that the perfection and if not perfection, maybe complete control is possible Entropy tells you though that you're wasting your time There's no such thing as complete control There's no such thing as perfection You can't get what you want Not exactly, there'll always be some element that you don't like If any manager gives me a chance to make things better, then I'll take it And if I ever give others that work for me a chance to make things better, their attempt to follow through is all I really ever ask for. If we accept that whatever tasks we're given, however, whatever mindset we're hired for is an evolutionary thing, then we can't blame the organisation. We can't blame the people that run it, that organise it, that try it, that give us these jobs. I mean, they're paying us to do a job. They have the right to set the task. They have the right to manage the task as they see fit. If they're our manager, then that's what they're being asked to do by the company. So, we should do as we're directed, if we can. If it's not what you want to do, I suppose, then you need to go somewhere else. But generally, I don't think that there's any cause for blame. Obviously, if you're in a management role and you've got people working for you, then you need to be mindful of the fact that you need to try and meet some of the expectations wherever you can but sometimes you just can't, no matter what you do, the organisation needs to have done what the organisation needs to have done, I mean you need to deliver and you need people that are going to help you to deliver if it's possible, try and understand what people want and try and give it to them if it's possible but sometimes it just isn't We talk about how having a good fit or a bad fit for a role for a job good fits and bad fits, you know, it's a good way of thinking about it It doesn't mean that the person that you've brought on or has come into this role is actually bad at that role It doesn't mean that they're bad in the organisation, it doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with them specifically, there isn't, perhaps, probably not All that they need to do is to do to their best of their ability the task that is set before them. And I suppose as a manager, all I try to do is to give people a job that I believe that they are capable of doing. And if I get it wrong, I'll fall on my sword and I will, you know, reset expectations and give them something else to do. But if you're not challenging your staff, if you're not challenging yourself to try and make it better and more engaging, then you're not doing your job and you're not doing anyone any favours. So, in the end, like all things, it's a balance. You can only give what you can give and you can only direct where the organization is going. You can only provide so much. What we really just need to be is flexible, engaged, and helpful as a whole. But if people, I suppose conversely, if they aren't some or most of those things, if they they aren't flexible, engaged or helpful, or even if it's just one of those things that they're not, well, maybe they need to find somewhere else to work and to play. And when people like that come up to me and say, it's time to move on, I'm not upset. Even if they're upset, it's fine, because sometimes they're just not a good fit. And sometimes people need to realise before they hand in their resignations, before they They say, "I'm done." Ask the question, "Did the organization fail them, or did they fail themselves?" It's an interesting one. If you're enjoying Analytical and you want to support the show, you can. Like one of our backers, Chris Stone. He and many others are patrons of the show via Patreon. You can find it at or one word. If you'd like to contribute something, anything at all, it's very much appreciated. Accept nothing, question everything. It's always a good time to analyze something. I'm John Chidjie. Thanks so much for listening. (upbeat music) [Music]
Duration 10 minutes and 52 seconds Direct Download

Show Notes

Links of potential interest:

Premium supporters have access to high-quality, early released episodes with a full back-catalogues of previous episodes


John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.