And everyone around you.
That’s a SCIENTIFIC FACT.
This summary of the findings of 72 studies shows how workplace stress results in physical symptoms.
The number one cause of sickness is….Organisational constraints, or,
“the aspects of a workplace environment that stop you getting your job done. It could include things like not having the time, materials or the authority to reach the goals that have been set for you.”
These are system conditions. The things in work that hinder the ability of people to get the job done, including:
- the way things are structured
- how the work has been designed
- the way people are paid and rewarded
- the measures used
- policies and procedures
- the culture and climate, i.e. informal and unstated way things really happen, never found in any written down policy or procedure.
None of these are in the control of staff. They are caused by the way work is managed. But staff suffer actual physical illness because of this. To find out where these constraints are and how they affect work you need to follow a trail of clues like a bloodhound, finding out what happens when a customer encounters your system.
Whatever the nature of your system if you follow the trail of a case or a product or service along through your system you will see exactly how your system delivers a service. As in the below picture, staple yourself to a piece of work and see where you are taken.
When you follow cases or services or products through your system you start to build up a picture of how your work is ACTUALLY structured. It won’t be like any process chart you have. It will be messy, work will flow backwards as well as forwards. It might sit alongside other pieces of work in big piles waiting for months at a time. And what are the cause of this sickness? Not bad people, not lazy people. Not staff who don’t pay attention. Not even lack of resources, i.e. money.
The reason your system is sick is the way management think about work. They don’t want you sick, far from it. These are people, and people who want you fit, healthy and at work. But they have assumptions about work, how it works, and the people in the work. Not knowledge, assumptions. Assumptions like it is betterquickerfastercheaperbestpractice to split work into chunks, place them in queues and have different people attend to portions of work. Rather like a car on a factory production line, no single person builds the car. Or helps the the old lady who asks for help getting washed in the morning. Instead there are individuals who attend to one tiny part of it, the interior of the glove-box for the car, or assessing the old ladies needs on the other.
These assumptions about the design of work are not tested, they are implemented.
These assumptions become part of the work, the way the system is designed. They haven’t been tested, they have been put in place. They make services worse and more expensive.
If you agree, don’t take my word for it, go and check your own work.
If you disagree, go and check your own work.
No-one can tell you, only you can find out.
Follow a case or a customer through your system to find out how well it can actually meet and solve the customers problem, listen to customer demand and find out how much is being caused by your system failing its customers.
You will find that what management think about work shapes the system they put in place, by design or inadvertently, and whatever this system will perform like, will be the performance of the system.
Good thinking will produce good systems, poor thinking will produce poor ones.
Thinking shapes the system which shapes the performance.
The number one cause of physical illness in work, is also the number one cause of poor performance. Change the thinking, the system changes, the performance changes.
Change the system from one that staff have to fight against to get the work done to one that helps them, and staff will be healthier as they will be working in a system that support them.
Command and control makes services sick and staff sick.
Systems thinking makes services better and staff healthier! If you aren’t convinced, and there is no reason why you should be, give it a try and experiment. Don’t take anybodies word for it. Look in your own work, get knowledge and experiment.
Keep systems thinking and have a lovely day!
NB The photo at the top is
stolenborrowed from a real blog actually about sickness and health, http://haventhadadreaminalongtime.blogspot.com/ Thanks in advance for allowing me to stealborrow it.