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  • Writer's pictureMike Sedam

Change the Lens - Managing Capacity by Leading People

Complex industries depend on human beings for success. This conflicts with some policies and procedures that are written as if people are the problem. In reality, if we want to influence how people behave in an organization, we need to influence the capacities of that organization.

Capacities may include safety, collaboration, communication, customer service, marketing, or many other areas where people and resources are needed to accomplish a task. Capacity can be thought of as the ability to achieve a goal effectively. Think about your own organization and the capacities you may want to manage. There may be a few important ones you want to focus on.

Managing capacity can require both tangible and intangible resources. Many organizations tend to focus on tangible resources. Because they are tangible, they are also easier to measure. Spreadsheets, organizational charts, and inventories are all ways we can see and measure tangible resources. Although things such as money and equipment are important; mindsets, communication, and knowledge are also important, but may not get as much attention. Consideration of the intangible resources available in an organization is an important part of managing capacity.

In order to manage capacity, you need purpose. Purpose is not just having the will to get it done, but exists at the intersection where your will meets conditions of the environment you are in. We are not looking at using a structure to manage capacity, it’s much too easy to just add a couple of positions, or throw more money at an issue. The real change, the true building of capacity occurs when it is behavioral. That means it is people-oriented. We need relationships and we need an understanding of the identities that drive us. In order to do this, we can think about social markets versus monetary markets.

Social rewards can provide people with a more powerful motivating force. If you can provide employees (workers, supervisors, managers, etc.) with intrinsic motivation, capacity can grow. Things such as self-esteem, feeling accepted as a valuable member of the organization, being looked at as someone who can contribute to solving organizational issues, and meeting the expectations of peers are all ways that social rewards can increase capacity. Simply changing the lens through which view others can help us find ways to build capacity. People are the answer, they are not problems to be solved.

Using relationships to build capacity is an important concept because human beings seek interactions with others and are driven by a need for self-esteem. People are social animals that are driven by a need to be accepted and find safety in belonging to groups. People identify with groups and if we can motivate people by helping them maintain a positive social identity, we can build capacity. And capacity allows us people to be adaptable problem-solvers.

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