People, profit or process?  To decide one over the other is a lot like the question of which came first – the chicken or the egg.  What does come first?  A focus on people, clear business goals that result in profit or process to execute the strategy?  Maybe there is no real “first” in this scenario, rather a need for the harmony of all three. 

When you make a choice for one over the other, you may be creating an imbalance that will ultimately affect the health of your business. 

Too much focus on people, forsaking the other two, may create an organization with fuzzy edges.  There are good feelings, great congeniality but at the risk of meaningful results. The boomerang is often a clamp down.  Forget Thirsty Thursday, ditch the ping-pong table and let’s get back to write ups. 

Too much focus on profit and goals may cause managers to make shortcuts with the people and lose the heart and engagement in the business. The boomerang on this is that the company loses full focus and top salaries often get inflated and performance bonuses can be gamed.  Trust is destroyed. 

A myopic focus on process may bog an organization down with minute attention to the screws and widgets, removing the eye from the business vision and the people executing on the vision.  Boomerang is that logic rules, analysis is king resulting in diminished risk-taking, constructive conflict or innovation. 

We need all three P’s. 

People enjoying joyful, crisp, engaged execution in a favorable environment where people feel welcome and content.  Because people are valued, coached and know what is expected, there is a willingness to participate in the process and celebrate the profit/goals. 

Profit begs the question, “why are you in business if you are not making money?”.  Profit is the result of a sound business strategy, stewardship of resources, clear execution that considers that people need to deliver on the strategy and use processes to do so.  Willing people executing the business according to the rules of engagement – sweet! 

Process is the necessary glue that moves people into meaningful action to deliver profitable results.  When you can define your core processes and your operational processes, you create the safety of the “how-to”.  People who feel that stability are better able to be trained and more willing to achieve expectations with accountability. 

What’s A Leader to Do? 

  • Make sure that you are transparent as to your business goals and financial targets.  Yes, even profit targets.   
  • Develop processes alongside your team (that’s what they’ve been doing in the Lean movement for years) and provide the necessary training.   
  • Be clear in your expectations with your people and then offer them coaching, direction and encouragement to achieve their results.   
  • Of course, all along the way you will be living as a true leader, providing guidance, inspiration, feedback and direction.  You will be listening and paying attention and then making your tweaks to all three P’s along the way. 

This happy blend of the three P’s, when paid attention to, delivers great results for all sizes and kinds of businesses. 

Enjoy the balance and the benefits of honoring people, processes and profits! 

Mary Pat Knight, CEO of Leaders Inspired, is a Transformation Strategist, Speaker, Facilitator, and Coach committed to leadership and emotional intelligence in the workplace. She is known for cutting through corporate drama to create laser focus for powerful business and personal results for her clients. 

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