Employees are People First, Task-doers Second
Want the best employees possible? Who doesn’t? If that’s really what you want, then you might want to focus more upon your people, versus the tasks they're assigned. Every ounce of heart you give towards their development, happiness and fulfillment, will grow and be available to your customers. Your customers will thank you.
Imagine, your people choose to be excellent and do amazing things. They’re focused on improving before you find their mistakes. Your strength of heart gets multiplied to the Nth power through the number of your employees. To make this happen you must find how you can lead and care for your people, in your genuine way that is natural to you.
YOU are a Bigger Impact than Processes
You and the leaders of your organization are the key elements of your work environment. Not sure about that? Well, the majority people still quit their bosses; not the company they worked for. By your presence, caring, actions and inactions, you determine whether your people naturally commit their hearts to taking care of each other and your customers, rather than taking care of themselves at the expense of each other and your customers. Processes you impose don't make people care. And, more often than not, managers use them to control behavior rather than inspire it.
Think about it this way. Would you want your employee to walk up to one of your customers and say, “we have processes and were going to make sure the tasks are done?” At first thought, that might seem ok, but... or, would you rather have that employee walk up to your customer and say, “we’re going to take care of you?” Of course, their actions have to back up their words.
As a customer, I always want to hear the latter. It falls in line with the two business reads that I always make: one, do the company’s people care about me and my needs or problems; two, are the company's people competent and can they take care of me. In simple terms, it’s do they have the will & skill? When they do, I feel like a safe and valued customer. When they don’t I’m always second-guessing.
Think about how your employees would like you to walk up to them? Do your words and actions inspire them to feel like a safe and valued employee?
Self-preservation Trumps Duty every time
Do you focus primarily on the tasks to be done when you walk up to your employees? If so, you’ve been letting them know they’re expendable in the pursuit of completing the tasks. That is, if they do their tasks, they get their pay, if they don’t, then they don’t. While this is inevitably the financial base for any employment relationship, because otherwise, duh! no delivery ensures you’ll go out of business. But, this approach misses the motivational mark by a mile and sets the work environment up for distracted focus, diminished effort, less cooperation and reduced innovation.
The resulting duress from "only the tasks matter," prevents your people from feeling psychologically safe and valued. In that simple equation, it's fail and be fired (not be able to eat, pay rent, etc... lose their economic legs.) Hey, remember Maslow's hierarchy? Imagine doing this to your kids. You say to them, "You have to run over there and if you fall while running, I'm going to cut off your legs," and then follow through with it. You would never do that, well, I hope not! Instead, you'd encourage, enthuse and empower them and they'd become fumazing runners.
Without encouragement, enthusiasm and empowerment, they're going to focus on avoiding the pain instead of working towards the gain. (Ok, that might've been a corny rhyme.) The natural outcome of this, those very tasks that were the primary focus when talking to your employees, well, they surely don't get done any better. Why? Your people are too busy taking care of themselves first, and often at the expense of each other, and ultimately, at the expense of your customers. Our brains simply respond to environments, even those with low unsafe levels, by going into flight/fight. In this state, our brains follow the most used neuropathways, limit their availability and when they’re accessible, and change its chemistry to that which is suboptimal for high functioning teamwork and confidence.
I’ll go out on a short limb here, and suggest that you wouldn’t want your customers addressed in a fashion that doesn’t instill the feeling of confidence. At the end of the day, it’s how the customer feels about your company that keeps them your customer. The same is true for how you address your employees. How your people feel keeps them as your great employees!
It’s a safe estimate that 70% of owners or managers primarily address employees about their tasks and in a rudimentary manner. That’s the disengaged percent of employees who wish they had a different job, or that they were in the Bahamas while they're at their cubes. Are you part of the 30% or 70%? Think in relation to yourself, and be honest about it.
When you've been stressed by, or are angry at, frustrated by, or hate working with, or, for someone, and you see or hear them, are you still positive and optimistic in solving the problem or doing the task? Or, do you get derailed with, "Oh God... I don't even want to see or hear them..."
Emotional Safety is a Feeling- Inspired by You & Your Leaders
How safe and valued do you think your employees feel? And, what are the chances of them passing on that feeling of being safe and valued to your customer?
We all function best when we feel safe and have trust with each other. We're kinda hardwired this way. The key ingredient for developing safety and trust- love. If that’s too mushy for you, then how about showing your people that you give-a-sh!# about them, like as in, more than you care about the tasks.
It all starts with you.
In your people’s work environment, they have YOU in common. What kind of environmental influence are you?
If your primary focus is on the tasks, then your influence is about leverage and the coercion of pay to get tasks done. If you focus on the care for your people’s development, happiness and fulfillment, then you influence by inspiring. By the way, the leaders that do this are much more productive and successful. Yeah, they get more tasks done with fewer mistakes and at a higher degree of excellence. Be the steadfast caring leader that inspires high standards of excellence instead of causing the distraction of self preservation.
Adding it all up:
HEart Based LEading
- Treat your employees as people instead of task-doers
- You and your leaders are the biggest influences in your organization's environment
- You care for your people and they care for each other, you and your customers
- Focus on people first and tasks second - People get tasks done, tasks don't get people done
- Tasks before people prevents your people from feeling psychologically safe and valued
- Employee self preservation resulting from a task focus environment, distracts them from high performance
- Your presence, actions & inactions determine whether your people naturally commit their hearts to taking care of each other and your customers, or take care of themselves (it's biology)
- Emotionally safe people work for each other, you, and your customers - unsafe people work for themselves
- It's how your people feel keeps them as your great employees
- People respond better to love than they do to coercion and consequence
- Leaders that develop and inspire happiness in their employees have teams that get more tasks done with less mistakes & higher excellence
Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you found this article helpful, please share it. I’d really appreciate that.
Have a great day and keep making our work world a more productive and better place. Paul