The Desires of People in the Modern Workplace

So what do people really want?  How can we lead organizations which best cater to their needs?  How do we bring the human back into human resources?  If they were machines it would be easy; electricity, oil, or a fresh load of printer paper would suffice.  Machines come with manuals which tell us exactly what they require to operate at peak performance.  People are far more complex.  While it may take only a few moments to read and understand an owner’s manual to see how a machine works our attempt to understand our people is an endeavor requiring more of our personal time and attention.  It’s different for everyone.  Where we miss it is that we too often take the operators manual approach to people or believe that a standard approach will have the same effect on everyone.  In my 27 years in the Army I served in a variety of different environments during peacetime and war.  I encountered people from all corners of our country and the world.  In some environments with some people I nailed it, meaning I got the person and the environment right, in others I failed to understand and I struggled.  My failures boiled down to this very thing: I attempted to see the environment or the person through my own lens instead of theirs.  Over my 27 year journey, I tried to develop a list of desires which I believe transcended each of these environments and cultures.  I tried to find some commonalities which I could apply as a baseline wherever I served.  I like to simplify things.  Not wanting to overthink this I narrowed it down to this short collection of desires outlined below which I could use like I would a vehicle dashboard to examine my own organization to see if I and my leaders were getting it right.  I used my

·         Fulfillment

·         Autonomy

·         Praise & Recognition

·         Safety

·         Discipline

·         Growth


experience from the different environments I served in along with my Army leadership training and education.I reflected on the leaders I had served with and the climates they established, both good and bad.In my tours in Afghanistan I encountered the poorest society I had ever experienced.It was a defining moment for me as a leader. Want more? Pick up a copy of “It’s Personal, Not Personnel, Leadership Lessons for the Battlefield and the Boardroom”

Rob Campbell