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  • Thomas Bradbury

Confronting the CEO's Invisible Threat: Friction in the Workplace




Imagine a set of gears. Working together fluidly. Effortlessly producing energy and output. Experts study the gears to see how they work together, how fast they turn, how much power they turn with. These experts look at each interaction and they think through how effective each contact point is for that specific task or action as well as the actions that immediately follow.  

Just like the gears producing energy and output, the workplace is comprised of countless interactions. Interactions between people or between technology and people. Even between technologies. The business thrives when people and technology are having successful interactions. Frustrations are down, awareness and the joy of being successful are up. This is both a boost to the success of the business and to the people that work in the business. It’s a win-win.

But what happens when the interactions have friction? Friction will either cause less output or require more energy to produce that same output. And what’s evident everywhere I go is that there is friction in every single business. And CEOs know this. They know that there are areas of their business that can always be improved. And it’s in their personality to always strive for making things better.

Great CEOs don’t enjoy people always telling them how well things are going. Their instinct tells them that the people who are working for them, senior people, are looking at their job and their patch and describing only what they see. And it’s always neutral to positive. CEOs want and need to understand how these patches come together and interact. For the sake of the business and for the sake of the people. Successful companies have people that are working well in everyday interactions or in which sub-par interactions are actively being improved. They have faith that they will see friction minimized or removed.

So, if every business has friction, what are the great firms and CEOs doing about it? They are looking at the experiences that people have when they are doing their job. They are looking for those interactions between people or with technology that don’t work well and they are looking for people to identify these areas by shining a light on them. Because once they shine a light on them, the far majority of these friction points are easily dealt with. So many just need a common-sense approach to create and deploy a new mode of getting through that task or process. So, whether it’s a drop of common-sense or it’s a new cutting-edge solution, there’s betterment through this type of innovation.

So where do we start looking for friction in the business? You of course start by looking at the experiences people have within the three silos that comprise employee engagement; HR/IT & Corporate Real Estate. By addressing the internal friction that is caused by these three swim lanes looking at their own responsibilities and not across all of them along with the experience they create together you’ll have better answers for the CEO when the question is asked “How can we make the business better?”

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