[Skip to content]

FM World logo
Text Size: A A A
20 February 2019
View the latest issue of FM
Sign up to Facilitate Daily >
FM World daily e-newsletter logo


The human factor

7 September 2015 

The world is really all about relationships – how different species relate to each other and within each species and all that, blogs John Bowen.


It’s what we call the balance of nature. It affects so much of what we do and vice versa, because on a macro level we have the matter of the environment and on a micro level we have our business and personal relationships.


Unless we adopt the role of hermit we are going to interact with other humans, and even a hermit has to interact with nature, and perhaps with other creatures that they will encounter. So in many ways the starting point is how we relate to people. In every business we are going to have to deal with that, so it sometimes surprises me when we sit around in meetings discussing process and numbers and all of the fine things that occupy us as business people and yet we rarely mention that human factor.


Our organisations exist to serve people; private enterprise usually to sell to people, public sector to serve the people, third sector to support people and so on.


Organisations exist because they deliver a need or a want, and fail when they cease to do so satisfactorily. So why is it that in so many levels of management we seem to forget that what we do is about the people we serve and those that we employ?


Customer first? Well if you put your employees first, treat them well and nurture them, then they will most likely treat your customers well too.


Of course we need to have processes to support our organisations, and these have become more important as the world has become more regulated, but there is an aspect of these processes that is often overlooked; they are not one-sided.


For a process to work there is the person who is carrying it out and there is the person for whom it is being carried out. Think about this a little because it is one of the common problems in every organisation. What often happens is that the process ends up being designed for the maximum convenience of one side of that equation at the expense of the other, especially when the interaction is remote. Just try ringing a call centre or conducting an online transaction and you will probably see what I mean.


Put the people first and apply some tolerance and understanding to both what you want and what the other person wants, and if your processes allow that then you will go a long way towards success.


Tolerance and understanding play a part in how we interact with our environment too, because much of what we do in the way of damage started out as ignorance; we didn’t know that some of the advances we were making were causing damage.


How we react later when we do know that we have a problem is a different issue, but it is about that relationship. Just as we are often selfish in our approach to process, so we are also selfish in our approach to the world around us. Things are fine as long as they are convenient to us, but we can be very difficult if someone wants us to give up something that we like just because it might mean that a species somewhere becomes extinct or, ultimately, that the planet will cease to support us at some point. 


John Bowen is an FM consultant