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  • Writer's pictureSimon Jones

Putting People First

How to build a ‘people’ focused (and productive) team!

Your people make things happen - without them you can't hit your business goals. Putting them first, nurturing them, will only make them more willing and able to work for you, unlocking the potential for your business to become more successful AND in turn attracting more talent as a result. Add resilience to the mix and those people can better adapt to adverse situations, manage stress and retain motivation, enabling organisations to better manage change.

Here are few things I hold fast to when it comes to putting people first and getting the results I need.

Use your emotional intelligence

I know from experience that in times of extreme business distress the key to calming a situation is building and placing trust in your people. And the leaders who can show emotional intelligence are the ones that will come to the fore.

DO Factor in ‘human’ time into your interaction with your work colleagues and team. Create trust and openness in the relationship so people can feel comfortable to tell you if there are issues or concerns so that you can talk about how to solve them in a practical and constructive way.


It could be they need some coaching/counselling/advice, time off with the family. Try to illustrate and get them to focus on the good (there is always a lot) and that you genuinely care about them. It may sound like I am being too much with the kid gloves here, but we are human and we react well to kindness, they feel better, you build up trust and a collaborative working relationship which is such a worthwhile thing to do. This does not need to impact the delivery timelines of the job at hand but the more hands on deck, working together, will result in a greater chance of success.

DON’T be confrontational and surprise, even when delivering unwelcome news – always acknowledge when a situation is difficult but show that ‘we are all in this together’.


  • Don’t lay blame – fine you have to highlight mistakes to fix them but don’t make it personal… and don’t forget to highlight the positives just as much.

  • Go to speak to colleagues - pull up a chair (phone them) and explain tasks or decisions personally – its better than an email (that’s just a follow up).

  • Explain the WHY - I am a big fan of describing why we are doing things, irrespective of level. It allows for; respect, context and maybe they have a better idea.

  • Be human. I find it is helpful that colleagues see your humanity, your “real”-ness and note that its normal to feel and be human. Don’t forget the opposite of stress/fear is trust and passion.

Recognise Burnout

There’s a lot of conventional advice that puts the onus on the employee to “self-treat” to remedy burnout. But a lot of the time, burnout is a product of the organisation, not the person. The person is so worn down and stressed out they are in no position to call for help… and although they may be swan like while paddling furiously to deliver what you need they are going to drown at some point. In my opinion a business can only run at turnaround/ transformation full speed for 15-18months – then staff leave or worst fall over. That’s about now from when the pandemic first hit!


  • Lose bullsh!t deadlines and prioritise workload – not everything is needed NOW and requires 20-hour days. It is just not sustainable. It is up to senior management to be able to make the call on what is a real priority and what can really be ‘done tomorrow’ or not done at all.

  • Encourage flexible working so that it can support peoples home life – if they like early starts or late finishes, or working from home rather doing the commute, then let them find a pattern that is productive for them but still supports the wider team delivery.

  • Council senior stakeholders – both professionally and gently, to try not to take the issues/worries home

  • Encourage people to take their time off to relax and rejuvenate

  • Celebrate the wins however small and call out all (And make sure it is ALL) those that contributed.

  • Is that meeting necessary? And do all those people need to be in it? While people are in meetings, they are not thinking about how something should be done, and they are definitely not doing… thinking & doing is what delivers results.

Build Resilience

Resilience in a work environment means people can better adapt to adverse situations, manage stress and retain motivation, enabling organisations to better manage change.

Take from the options suggestion above, work with your HR team but be smart with your employee support: not one fits all approach

  • If the pandemic has had a financial impact on your employees, then address this?

  • If tech is a challenge, fix it

  • If they have suffered loss or ill health, acknowledge it

Stop your team from just ‘being there’ and engage them to want to be there… even enjoy coming to work… and see how much more productive they are as a result.

To understand more about how bringing interim management in to help turnaround and transform your business please drop Simon an email


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