We live in a reactive world…

seprator
28July 2017
Katherine Woods

Katherine Woods

Partner
This post is authored by Katherine Woods, Partner. Full bio →
Katherine Woods
  • We don’t put a warning signs on a road until there have been accidents.
  • We don’t provide legal support for women in domestic abuse situations until they are in desperate situations.
  • We don’t take mental health seriously until someone is unable to function.

…Why do we need crisis to prove something is wrong!?

These might seem dramatic examples but the same patterns often occur in the workplace
We often don’t truly care for people until they resign or threaten to sue or become unable to function.

The Need to Humanise

The need to humanise our workplaces, communities and organisations has never been more necessary than now. As we approach the era where AI will replace many mundane human tasks, it feels even more important to dial up what humans are really capable of, and excel at.

One of the issues is that we don’t see our organisations as human systems. The dominant mental model is of an industrial machine, with people as components, who can be moved and replaced, and injected with knowledge so they do what is needed.

If we think about our organisations as living human systems, then we need to think about people differently. The trouble with people is that they are complex and sometimes messy. But they are also amazing. Amazing at being able to work together, to come up with new, creative solutions.

This is the potential power that resides in most organisations, often untapped, because it requires us to create workplaces where people can bring their whole selves to work. ‘People are our greatest asset’ might be plastered on the walls of many corporate offices, but the reality is that most workplaces are not safe spaces for people to bring their whole selves into.

And yet, when we leave our personal lives at home or in the car park, we leave part of our humanity behind, which stops us really bringing our full potential to our work.

Test How Human is Your Workplace?.. Really.

You may be reading this thinking that your organisation does care about people. So test this by thinking about what happens in the ‘rub’, when times are tough where do we go?

  • Do we keep people development as a top priority?
  • Do we prioritise travel budgets to allow people to meet face to face?
  • Do we keep investing in the communities and causes we care about, things that make our hearts sing?

I know I have fallen into this trap… assuming that if we work harder, or smarter, we can achieve more as a business. And yet, when I have attended to things that feed the human soul, and dealt with the human conflicts in my business, it has unleashed powerful performance. To work this way we have to believe that, if people flourish our businesses will.

Margaret Wheatley in her book, “Finding our Way: Leadership for Uncertain Times” says:

“In organisations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles and positions.”

“Whatever your personal beliefs and experiences, I invite you to consider that we need a new worldview to navigate this chaotic time. We cannot hope to make sense using our old maps. It won’t help to dust them off or reprint them in bold colors. The more we rely on them, the more disoriented we become. They cause us to focus on the wrong things and blind us to what’s significant. Using them, we will journey only to greater chaos.”

This article by Gustavo Tanaka highlights the level of change going on around us every day and explores some of the implications for how we think about and behave in our workplaces: Something extraordinary is happening…

If you have a hunch that something in your business is just not working, and are interested in trying something different before your hunch is proven right, in a crisis… call us

  • Humanising our workplaces is big business… I just got back from CoreNet’s real estate conference. Companies are just beginning to create board level “heads of Employee Experience”, bringing together Real Estate, Facilities Management, HR and IT. The aim is a more mindful approach to experience-design and execution. AECOM and HSBC have fascinating data on measuring cognitive changes when the physical, digital and behavioural environments are improved to be empmloyee-centric. Exciting times…

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