Investing in people vs. managing resources.

One of the most important Digital culture standards to me is “people not resources”.

As Head of Product for DWP one of the key parts of my job is hiring and allocating the right people to the right product teams. It would be easy to say my role was for a large part about resource management. But a number of conversations this week have reaffirmed that 'managing resources' is no part of what I do.

Having multidisciplinary teams made up of lots of individuals with different job titles and skills means nothing if they’re the wrong people, or if those people can’t work together. We have to be able to support and encourage our people by recognising their strengths, their weakness and their passions and make sure we are (as much as possible) putting them into teams where they can flourish. We have to help them be their best by building teams around them where they can come together on common ground to build a team identify and culture. We have to empower them to bring their wholeselves to work, and that will only happen when we create the culture and teams for them where they feel comfortable doing so.

This means we have to know our people well, we have to see them for themselves, know what it is they bring to the table, know how they work, what they want out of their role/their career etc. We have to see them as people, not just a resource.

And that means we as Leaders have to be adaptive. We can’t treat everyone the same. We can’t build each team as if it were made out of Lego sets. As our people are different, so must our teams be. The strongest teams are often those we have empowered to organise themselves and work in the way that best suits them, with minimum outside disruption. If we try to build each team from the top down to look the same without recognising the needs of our people as individuals, that’s when teams fail to deliver, and when we as Leaders fail our teams and our people.

This is why standards and principles are important. Within Government we have 18 Digital standards to help us deliver the right things in the right way, and we have to support, empower and trust our teams to follow those standards.

But we equally as Leaders have to hold ourselves up to things like the Digital culture standards and always be looking for ways we can improve our Leadership styles to best support our people, and the first step to doing that is recognising we are not resource managers, because a person is never 'just' a resource.

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