Human beings not human doings - what’s your management choice?

By Mark LeBusque. Published at Nov 9, 2020, in Features

"I am a human being, not a human doing.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

How can you fully embrace the human element that has helped your business survive through a very challenging time?

Going back to business as usual is no longer an option. You must think of it now and forever as business unusual.

What if I told you there was a way to be human, to throw the transactional KPI’s out for a period of time and focus on human behaviour as the driver of business success?

Would you laugh at me like many did and say that what I was talking about was all warm and fuzzy stuff that can’t be measured?

I want to let you in on a little experiment I ran that proved to me and others that the craziness of focussing on weekly KPI’s can be replaced by building an awareness on four human behaviours:

  1. Thankfulness
  2. Helpfulness
  3. Care
  4. Fun

I called it Humannovation.

The idea that we are human beings before human doings and by creating an awareness on how we choose to be our “doing” will be more powerful and productive. If we focus on this over a period of three months, then magic will happen as humans are allowed to be human in the workplace.

Are you still shaking your head at the ridiculousness of my approach?

Read on.

Imagine if this approach led to targets being exceeded by 200% two years running and it all started with being human and not what was on your ‘to-do’ list?

Got you interested now?

It all comes down to the environment that you create as a manager in giving humans the permission to turn up with a focus on the way they behave towards each other. It doesn’t need to be about the corporate buzzwords like collaboration, co-creation and innovation that tend to turn most humans off these days.

It should be more about how humans feel when they experience a significant shot of oxytocin after they have:

  • Helped someone solve a problem
  • Been helped by someone to solve a problem
  • Cared for someone by "checking in" and asking if they were OK
  • Had some good old-fashioned fun
  • Thanked someone who helped them
  • Received thanks from someone they helped

There was no KPI sheet for this at the time, instead we focussed on what I call the Two-A’s -

Awareness and Adjustment.

By simply heightening the awareness of the importance of these four behaviours over time what then happens is an adjustment in the way we interact with each other. Engagement becomes more meaningful and efficiency and productivity increases due to the lack of a perceived or real need to complete with each other to win on the KPI sheet.

In fact, the KPIs looked after themselves without a need for me or my team to be constantly checking in on them.

There’s a big role that the manager plays here to allow for such a different approach to business success. Firstly, it takes courage to be different and secondly, it takes a level of resilience to hold your nerve and encourage a mindset that we are human beings before human doings.

If you created the environment of the cut and thrust of hitting your revenue numbers or reducing costs, meeting expectations of your manager, or your manager’s manager, as well as the shareholder, perhaps that environment didn’t create space for being human.

I’d suggest more than likely you were in survival mode, hoping that each week you would meet or exceed those KPI’s so you didn’t have a target on your back. Just doing what you could to survive. After all, KPI’s are king and what you can’t measure you can’t manage, right?

Hardly human no matter how many times you heard things like, “our people are our most important asset”.

You see we didn’t need a pandemic to become more human. We were human beings before the pandemic and we will be long after we’ve learned to live with or eradicate it.

All it takes is some courage to put aside the traditional transactional KPI measures for a period of time and allow humans to be human. Encourage these four simple behaviours of thankfulness, helpfulness, care and fun, and watch your humans and the business results flourish.

That’s when your business can move from surviving to thriving by embracing Humannovation or #beingbeforedoing

What are you waiting for?


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