The human factor in the company: is it dangerous?

    Initially, the concept of the human factor came into the world from military affairs and aviation - we all know examples of its influence on the course of events in world history. But more and more often, the vague wording “yes this is the human factor” is blamed on the shoals in business. Data leak? Human factor. Error in the tender? Human factor. Has the software dropped on the production client? Well, it is generally always a human factor. We decided to go deep into the problem and understand what this phenomenon is, how it affects business and management, and what can be done to reduce the influence of the human factor. Well, do not go with the flow, writing off everything on some abstract entity. In general, let's talk about human exams.

    In each of them the human factor invisibly lives: it is impossible mini, there will be a decollete; you can’t fish, there’s going to be a dog, the director got frozen, well, etc.

    Note For those who are not in development: exception is not a mistake , it is an exceptional case of work in the program, an unexpected deviation.

    Where does the human factor come from and why is it important?

    Any mistake is worth the company profits, resources (human, temporary, production - yes any) and, of course, nerves. Quality, security, IT infrastructure, reputation - an incomplete list of vulnerable aspects that could significantly affect the switched off switch, a bug in the software, errors in Excel tables (except jokes, for example, during a tender or calculation of profitability of a tariff, product, etc. ). One human mistake - and the processes, projects and the whole months of work go to waste. But, as you know, it is human nature to err and sooner or later he will be mistaken. So, all that remains is to learn how to minimize the influence of the human factor. Let's estimate what can be done?

    For example, to exclude people from the process - the total automation of all that is possible. Great idea, and it would seem we, as developersCRM-systems and other software for business automation should drown just for it and paint posts for five as cool as robots are injected, a happy person, profit is coming, etc. But precisely because we are experienced automators (17 years in the IT business, 11 years in CRM), we will never say that.

    In fact, the human factor, no matter how beautifully it is called, is just an ordinary organizational risk that needs to be laid when developing strategies and setting goals. Simply put, there must be some kind of incident response scheme and protection from the main types of human errors, which, by the way, can be as unintentional (hurt the button with a shoulder, stumbled and pulled the wire, threw all customers with an open mail address into the mailing list, made a mistake addressee, left a briefcase with documents and a flash drive in a cafe), and malicious (hacking, theft, data mining, hunting teams to a new location, etc.).
    So, the human factor cost NASA $ 165.6 million. In 1999, a team of engineers creating software for the Mars Climate Orbiter orbiter was unable to convert units of measure from the English to metric. The data in the control system was confused, and the spacecraft was lost in space.

    Another story. A British clinic that treats patients with HIV in 2015 flew a £ 180,000 fine as a result of a 100% human error. The fact is that the newsletter was sent to 781 patients, and in the “To whom” field there were all 781 addresses and first names. Thus, recipients were able to easily find out who else has HIV.

    Human factor - translation difficulties and wild find of top of issue
    Когда мы пишем статьи, всегда стараемся посмотреть зарубежные источники на предмет исследований и крупных примеров из жизни известных корпораций. В этот раз мы ввели в поиск «human factor», но получили немного не то, что ожидали: больше о человек ориентированных компаниях и о коллективном влиянии, которое сотрудники оказывают на успешность компании. Оказалось, что нам был нужен термин «human reliability» (надёжность), и это очень правильное определение. Кстати, сравните:

    Ну и вот, увы, русскоязычный бред  по запросу «человеческий фактор в бизнесе». Мы не стали гуглить эти векторы дальше, потом репутацию поисковых запросов не отмоешь, погуглили автора «концепции», вот думаем, как всё это развидеть. (Осторожно, ссылка может травмировать психику и вызвать неудержимый ржач).

    All human factors can be classified according to different criteria, but we suggest two.

    The first classification, by degree of intent, is the most common, covering all other groups in two blocks.

    1. Unintentional errors - situations that occur regardless of the employee's desire to perform the wrong action. Usually they arise by chance or due to the influence of a third party, but nevertheless this does not mean that the employee’s guilt is not there: a factor of inattention, negligence, misunderstanding, etc. plays a role.
      Example. Several years ago, when putting the decimal separator into a Russian comma in the Google Adwords interface, the number was taken as a whole, a dot was needed (now this bug has been processed and a warning appears). The advertising manager bet on a top word of $ 23.7, which Google processed as $ 237. Overnight more than $ 25,000 was “eaten”, at that time about 800 thousand rubles. Who is guilty? It seems to want to blame Google. But why didn't the employee look at the bid after applying it? What punishment should be?
    2. Deliberate mistakes - the influence of the human factor, due to malicious intent or poor-quality performance of duties. This includes all offenses against security, labor discipline, conflicts, theft, etc. In these cases, the person has a fault, a motive, an awareness of the action, and he, as a rule, has a clear idea of ​​what will happen if he finds an error. Or he knows for sure that his laziness, negligence, misunderstanding will sooner or later lead to an error.

    The second classification, important precisely for the goals and objectives of the business, development, production — that is, the commercial sphere — is a grouping by reason-cause. Let's set two eternal questions: who is to blame and what to do.

    Who is guilty?

    Professional mistakes - a group of mistakes that an employee makes in his / her own activities. Their origins may lie in overconfidence (did not test their code), in poor learning, in lack of understanding of the subject (novice hesitates to ask and mess), in blurring the eyes (the engineer looks for an error in the drawings, relying on a previously flawless colleague), chance, and so on. d.

    What to do?

    • Establish work rules, common standards (for example, code style) that will be implemented by everyone in the company.
    • Conduct periodic training, presentation of the work of different departments and products, discuss innovations at meetings. The professional level of employees should not stop on the day of the conclusion of the employment contract, it must grow.
    • Redistribute tasks between employees, so as not to reduce the level of attention to detail.
    • Fighting micromanagement - the desire of individual employees to control all processes, and even better to do all the work. For example, we set tasks for employees in our RegionSoft CRM and they always know exactly what they should do and at what time.

    Who is guilty?

    Material or other benefit - situations in which the human factor is triggered by the deliberate actions of a person who wants to get profit. Accident here as a rule is excluded, all actions are thought out, the employee has a plan to achieve his goal. This is the same group of situations, for the exclusion of which it is necessary to take actions to prevent violations.
    An example from life is simple, complex and impressive in terms of deci…stupidity. Software company. All programmers, DevOps and system administrators are confused about security, because a major nuisance happened a few years ago: the code of the three products was completely stolen by the employee, and the Russian court did not render much assistance to the plaintiff, all the wording was vague, it was a fine. The employee insolently made small changes and became a competitor. Accordingly, having burnt on milk, the whole company began to blow on the water. Everything was fine until a new marketing marketer-seoshnik arrived, with a good understanding. He noticed that a senior marketer, a woman over 40, scattered and unorganized, looks at the keyboard in the morning and afternoon. In the next dinner he looked there. I think everyone guessed what was written on the table with a marker? He logged into the account, merged all customers and the same day he quit on probation (without working off). I think why he got settled, where he went and where he still works, everyone guessed too ...

    What to do?

    • Eliminate unhindered and uncontrolled employee access to sensitive data. And here, despite our example, IT professionals are simpler - the code is usually well protected by software and protected by patent law, which is not true of commercial information. Yes, we all sign a piece of paper about a trade secret, but this does not prevent hundreds of managers from leaving the company and withdrawing their client base from Excel or the cloud. A desktop CRM system (for example, RegionSoft CRM) seems to be a more reliable solution due to the reliable distribution of access rights, physical protection capabilities, the private client mechanism and total logging of upload, generation and printing of reports (including client lists).
    • Checking employees at the time of hiring - as a rule, an experienced worker with a “criminal talent” has certainly already inherited somewhere, and this trace can be found. If there is nothing criminal, it is possible, for example, to reveal a novice’s cooperation with competitors.
    • Evaluate abrupt changes in employee behavior — as a rule, a security breach has its motivation and is prepared in advance. Usually, the head of the department can identify such markers at an early stage: special attention to suddenly long ill employees who quit, those who suddenly change their behavioral patterns (for example, cool to a senior manager and suddenly become a bosom friend).

    Who is guilty?

    Psycho-emotional state of an employee- a huge and complex group, about which they most often speak of the “human factor” and with which they work less often. If an employee drastically changes his mood, experiences life difficulties or grief, he may turn out to be a useless worker who will make mistakes (less often, he will be striving to burn out with a super efficient machine that implements the task after task). In any case, the final outcome is mistakes, burnout and abandoned work. This is usually blamed on weakness in one case or workaholism in another, but few people think that a person in such states is under the influence of physiological processes (if lost, rude, changes mood and tupit - the limbic system won, if rushing as super reasonable robot performer - hi prefrontal cortex).

    What to do?

    • First and foremost rule: if an employee has a grief, trouble (divorce, death, illness of a loved one, some short-term stress (bad tests, for example)) do not drive him home and do not force him to work. Indicate to him that for some time he may work a little less or, if he chooses, not to work for several days without financial losses. So the worker himself will choose: he wants to forget his job and get the support of his colleagues or close for three days at home and relive everything alone.
    • Do not escalate the situation if a sudden conflict arises - gently move away from the topic, check that colleagues do not offend a person during stress.
    • If a person has noticeably decreased performance, temporarily exclude him from important business processes, entrust the routine work. Explain that this is a temporary measure.
    • The team must necessarily transmit to the employee in a stressful situation, that he is needed, important, and everyone is waiting for him back into service.

    Seems easy? In fact, sometimes being a person is the hardest.

    Who is guilty?

    Employee's physical condition- Another very serious group that causes the influence of the human factor on business. On the one hand, we all know how bad it is to think of a runny nose, sore throat and fever, so the solution lies on the surface: he took sick leave and returned to working capacity. But there are conditions when a person is not ready to take sick leave or he is not even fit for him - for example, prolonged back pain. He has become accustomed to them, but to minimize pain, he takes indomethacin, which can reduce attention and cause unpleasant drowsiness. Honestly, it is very difficult to code or calculate a financial plan in this state. In addition to such situations, there may be chronic diseases, organic problems with the senses, pregnancy, etc. Moreover, the cause of almost all these problems and conditions can be just work.

    What to do?

    • Pay for sick leave and do not use them as an element of blackmail.
    • Provide employees of voluntary medical insurance and motivate them to undergo examination and treatment in the right amount (do not confuse with stupid and unpleasant professional examinations, which somehow could get through to commercial companies).
    • Adjust the vacation schedule taking into account the needs and abilities of the person ( for example, a guy who practices diving in Egypt does not have a rest in July, and a girl who is having a rest with children at a dacha in the Nizhny Novgorod region, vacation in a short hot time is critical ).
    • Expel carriers of ARD and ARVI to be ill at home - let them carry out their tasks remotely. Nowadays, there are fewer and fewer posts that require a strict presence in the office - for example, a sales person or a logistician can work in the RegionSoft CRM system from home, taking advantage of all the advantages: telephony, base, call recording, mail, etc.

    Who is guilty?

    General interpersonal relationships have a tangible effect on work. Friendship and enmity of employees and departments, friendly relations between the manager and the subordinate, favoritism, separation of employees for some non-professional reasons are a scourge of modern offices, especially in small and medium businesses. Employees can take revenge, dirty things, or vice versa, work for envy (and hatred) to everyone only because of dislike or love for their colleagues. Under these conditions, there are errors in work, imbalances in the quality of project management, business processes are violated, in which the interpersonal factor cannot be laid.

    What to do?

    You can write a whole essay about friendship at work, conflicts, types of interactions. But this is definitely not within the framework of an overloaded topic. Universal advice: work, communicate, build a corporate culture on the ideology of a common goal, freedom and responsibility.

    Who is guilty?

    Interpersonal relationships associated with family and attraction. This is the most terrible group of situations that can lead a company to serious personnel, intellectual and reputational losses. Even we will not talk about it - we give an example.
    Example. The girl got a job in the company, the DevOps presenter fell in love with her, on which almost all builds for 4 countries of the world (including the USA) hung. The girl was not very deep in her mind, and the guy undertook to come to her and do her job for her - to write mailings and letters in English. Remarks from colleagues passed by the ears. Gradually, customers began to increase tickets for the bugs of installation and support, the number of unclosed tasks in Jira reached the general. He thought for a long time what to do, but eventually fired the girl with an excellent payout. After 2 weeks and 1 day the guy left, having cleaned ALL virtual women at parting. The office was recovering for a month, hired a new one for three months. Losses were on average about 30,000 dollars. Now they are husband and wife, advice and love, of course, but ... a little expensive office love rose, in general. You say the office itself is to blame What closed so many processes on one person? Of course. Again, the human factor.
    What to do?

    This is too scrupulous a situation to advise something. Definitely not worth taking on the work of relatives (although here they can argue with us), so as not to incur personnel losses. Well, and probably, you need to broadcast in love, that the office is not a den and not a family nest, but a workplace. Sometimes pretty tough.

    Who is guilty?

    Force majeure- this is already a real business risk, within which there is a human factor due to the fact that all people behave differently in extreme conditions. This may include technological disasters, industry problems, economic crisis, currency risk, etc. Inside this group there are situations in which you always need to act as coolly as possible and try to preserve a minimally viable business, debug and restructure processes based on the realities that have arisen.

    What to do?

    • Do not create a panic: collect employees, order pizza and beer / lemonade and tell us what is happening and what is the true scale of the problem, suggest your solutions and take an interest in the employees' vision.
    • Do not initiate reduction to the last.
    • Prevent rumors and speculation, be open, post information on the portal, do mailings, arrange small strategic meetings - almost like a ship captain. Just a little storm :-)
    • Rebuild business processes. By the way, they are much easier to rebuild if they are automated — for example, processes are created in a CRM system . You just need to make changes to the process itself or create a new one and launch it.

    Crime and Punishment

    So something happened. The head tells the customer that error, sorry, but then you need to do something - at least so that this story does not happen again.

    Companies prefer post-reaction and it is much easier for them to report on the costs of business than to motivate to invest in risk prevention. It is necessary to proceed not from the position of a person’s weakness, but from their position of his reliability and reasonable strength. But until the realization of these things has come to business (even we, automators, a company that puts itself and others on the rails of working closely with software, do not declare that we have overcome the human factor), it is worthwhile to attend to other things related to postreaction .

    The first one is sanctions for violations. This is a very subtle point. If you punish an employee disproportionately and inadequately with his mistake and, most importantly, its motives and reasons, two degrees of misunderstanding may arise: either you will be considered weak and there will be an illusion of permissiveness, or you will overplay the stick and lose an employee. What measures can be taken? (Of course, in case it is not a deliberate violation, but a real random influence of the human factor).

    • To punish the guilty materially, for example, to lower the premium. This is not the best option, because, firstly, it is difficult to assess the proportionality of the blame and the premium share (well, for example, how much to deduct from the premium of the one that overslept the Google rate?), Secondly, this is quite a demonstrative and little motivating punishment which would rather cause resentment than repentance and the growth of skill.
    • To conduct training on the basis of the made mistake, if it is required, is a more attractive and useful option. But this should not be some kind of demonstrative form, but individual work: an explanation of the rules of safety face to face with an explanation of possible problems, training on topics where gaps have arisen. In general, the company should always have a person (or several) who can ask questions and get a qualified answer. If among employees the mentoring relationship does not add up, the project manager, head of department, and manager must assume responsibility.
    • Discussing mistakes and leveling a teamwork strategy is a less annoying way. If the problems caused by the human factor are not critical, you can fix them and analyze them at the end of the week or month - then you’ll get not a debriefing, but a calm and productive brainstorming.
    • Create such systems and approaches within the company in order to avoid mistakes and reduce risks. As you saw in the typology of risks, many of them can be avoided by automating business processes, centralized data storage, security management, etc. Additional possibilities for minimizing risks are provided by instructions, regulations, reminders - and from this process you can make something interesting and even fun, and not boring boring folios on the corporate portal.
    • Work out aspects of non-material motivation of employees. If an employee is tied to the company not only with money, but also with an interesting project, a healthy and comfortable climate in the team, he will appreciate his place and be involved in tasks with great attention and the desire to make cool.
    • Applying disciplinary action is the worst that can happen. Dismiss, send to unpaid leave for three days, demotion, connect the working time control system, ask to transfer to another department, write a silent report to the general, so that the guilty person gets a whipping out "on the carpet" and is humbled - that's what you should forget , if you aspire to work in a company, and not in torture. This is especially true of middle managers who like to assert themselves on the mistakes of colleagues.

    Everyone can make a mistake, and this is absolutely normal. Moreover, the absence of errors is a sure sign of a lack of work. Another thing, as far as the error is malicious, unprofitable, in which time it is reproduced by the same person. The human factor was, is and will be even then when work will be as automated as possible. He must be remembered and be prepared for him. Therefore, do not forget that nothing human is alien to any of your employees, and the most important human factor is man himself. Delegate, trust, build a person oriented company and be alert. It saves a lot of money and nerves.

    imageWe have a New Year's campaign for all the software developed by our team, so if anyone needs a powerful desktop and functional RegionSoft CRM with a discount of up to 15% , seize the moment, there are extra buns.
    PPS: Finishing this article, we realized that this is just a gallop across Europe, and the theme of the human factor in management and business is so relevant for the IT industry that it is worth developing. We will list in the survey approximate topics and will gradually reveal them as the magnitude of interest.

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