“Software is just a tool to help accomplish something for people – many programmers never understood that. Keep your eyes on the delivered value, and don’t over focus on the specifics of the tools”, wrote John Carmack on Twitter.
For those of you who don’t know him, Carmack is an American computer programmer and video game developer who has made innovations in computer graphics and more recently in artificial intelligence. He is like a legend in the field.
The important thing about what he said is something that could be applied to almost anything: we need to focus on delivering value independently of our business. Especially if our business is managing people.
What is value?
Marketers say that customers’ purchasing decisions are based on two criteria: the benefits of a particular product or service and its price. The greater the benefit to a particular customer, the greater the perceived value and the most the customer would be willing to pay for that product or service. In other words, the customer will be more motivated to buy.
Delivering value is not about vague benefits, but about observable features that are built after understanding customer preferences and needs at a certain level of detail. It also involves some market research and systematic listening.
Knowing what customers want enables a company to divide potential buyers into groups of customers who want or need more or less the same benefits. Thus, perceived value depends on each customer or customer segment.
Therefore, in a highly competitive environment, delivering value should be at the core of any successful business strategy.
Does it apply to management?
Talent is a scarce resource, and therefore something for that organizations compete for. The ability of both the organization and the manager to create a compelling value proposition for the employee becomes essential if they are to attract, develop, and retain talented people.
Some managers have many tools at their disposal. In most of the cases, they have been trained to feedback, build teams, set SMART goals or communicate effectively. And yet, managers often fail to add value to their people because they don’t know them.
Managers are responsible for much more than providing jobs and making decisions. They are responsible for the growth and well-being of their employees, in addition to creating a good working environment.
In this value journey, managers must understand what employees want most.
According to recent studies, they want more flexibility in their workspace; more autonomy and ownership in the decision-making process; more diversity in roles, skills and knowledge in the teams; and more learning opportunities to help them grow.
So beyond the tools, the question is how to create an environment where everyone can find value. Managers should be facilitators of talent growth.