The People Principles
Let’s admit it already: Every workplace is fundamentally about people. Sure, we need information systems and technology and supply chains and metrics. Improvement in these areas is a good thing. But these are the inanimate aspects of work. The real heart and mind of every organization are found in its people. People are what differentiates organizations from one another, how they think, act, treat fellow employees and customers, etc.
If you truly want to bring out the best in people, you need to take action, whatever your role in the organization. Consider the following ideas and think about how you would rate yourself on each one as a manager.
1. Think HOW, not what
Assignments and deadlines keep us focused on the work itself — sometimes so much that we lose sight of the people who do the work. Maintain a wider perspective. Instead of asking people what they’re doing, ask them HOW they’re doing.
2. Don’t say, ask
You THINK you know the right approach or the right answer, and maybe you do. But if you want to engage and empower people, skip the statements and start asking questions. Go from “here’s what I think” to “what do YOU think?”
3. Work it out now
When conflicts arise, letting them simmer is easier in the short term — but destructive in the long term. Unless you’re fond of grudges and hurt feelings, start resolving today’s conflicts today.
4. Just say thanks
There’s no need for fancy awards and rewards — because there’s no substitute for simple, sincere appreciation. Make a habit of putting your gratitude into words.
5. Take action inclusively
A bias for action is a good thing. But the action should be done WITH people and not to them or despite them. If you’re going to implement anything that affects anyone, gather a group of co-creators.
6. Turn up the differences
A workplace full of do-as-you’re-told clones would be so easy to manage. And so boring. And so pathetically unsuccessful. Look for and leverage those precious differences in yourself and your colleagues. As long as you have meaningful goals in common, you’ll achieve uncommon success.
7. Tell stories
If you want to shape the workplace culture, become a raging gossip of good news. Look for real-life examples of employees serving each other and their customers. Then tell those stories over and over.
8. Engage people back…LISTEN
When someone tries to engage you in conversation, be conscious of your reaction. In a hectic work environment, it’s easy to be dismissive. Listening to someone is the greatest respect you can offer an individual. Take the time to open your ears — and your mind and heart.
9. Show your emotions
You’re not a robot or a potted plant. If you’re thrilled, angry, enthused, confused, curious, whatever, let it show in a constructive way. It’s more than okay to be human.
10. Be the real you
We’ve all met people who are one way one day — then someone else the next. It’s no fun for anyone, including the chameleon. Get to know yourself, and remain true. Everyone will benefit.
These 10 ways to build a people-centered workplace are time tested, and are keys to unleashing human potential in organizations. More importantly, make a concerted effort to adopt some of these in the next few days and weeks and I guarantee you will start seeing a noticeable difference.