I’m here to tell ya today – managing people does not have to be complicated…once you recognize and understand 1 simple human truth.
If you meet some basic, core human needs, people will willingly contribute (aka perform).
Managing is a Human Experience
For the moment, suspend your thinking of management as a role, having power or authority over people called employees.
Rather, just think of managing as a simple human experience.
Because ultimately…that’s exactly what it is. Clothed in titles, roles and responsibilities, being an employee, a manager or business owner is simply about having a human experience in a defined context.
When you look at being a manager through the lens of your own human experience and that of others, being effective – getting business and operational results – can be narrowed down to acknowledging and appropriately working with this simple human truth.
The Human Experience at Work
Don’t be shocked when I share this list. Don’t let the simplicity minimize the imperative value to helping you be a better manager, with more ease. In fact, feel free to use it as checklist to gauge where you or your direct reports might need improvement.
In the context of work, from a human perspective, here are what employees want to experience:
- Respectful connections with the core folks they work with – sense of camaraderie
- Feeling they are providing a meaningful contribution – what they’re doing matters to you, the team, the business – their presence matters
- Want to be fully engaged – connected to the work for a meaningful level of satisfaction- postively connected to the experience so they can give their best
- Want to develop – to improve and expand capabilities. It is a basic human desire – to grow.
- Feel appreciated – recognized for their contribution (which is distinctly different from being rewarded). You notice, you care, you appreciate the effort and contribution.
- A positive, pleasant safe environment to work – psychologically, physically and emotionally.
Another way of viewing this list is to see it as core human needs in the context of work and can be used to assess a team or company culture. Note: When I do “high level” consulting work, related to management and leadership issues, almost all issues can be narrowed down to this simple list.
Why This Matters
One of my greatest joys and most significant challenges is helping leaders see and care about the connection between human behavior and the business outcomes they want.
So if you look closely, you can see that if these are not met, it creates an opening for the less mature to develop negative attitudes and counterproductive behaviors… which will surely continually percolate and mostly likely blow up into something you don’t want.
It’s just so much easier to stay aware and actively ensure these needs are met…call it, if nothing else, preventative action.
My clients have discovered it only feels more complicated when these aren’t being met and unwanted issues are now present. Many managers feel at loss as to how to successfully deal with them…and receive little or no help in doing so.
If you are a manager, you are the first and frontline deliverer of this list. If you are a senior leader, you are responsible to ensure this is the experience of every team, department, business unit…etc.
Here’s a twist on how you can see managing => Ultimately, being a manager is about expressing your leadership and management through meeting the human needs of those you lead. And then…guess what…the actions, attitudes, behaviors, performance, contributions that produce the results you want will more readily flow.
Advisory Tip: Adopt this management mantra – “meet the human needs first and the rest will be easier to manage”.
What Does This Look Like Practically?
Well, here’s more good news – even this is not complicated. To practically meet the needs mentioned requires simple, intentional actions… and here they are. I’ve listed your action first and how it’s meeting the human need second.
1> Connect & communicate expectations consistently – I want to know the direction we’re going in and what targets to hit so I can feel good about my performance. (By the way, sporadic, periodic interaction with teams members..not only doesn’t meet human needs it’s ….well…not managing.)
2> Be truthful, candid and clear in your feedback – BS violates trust. I need confirmation I’ve achieved what I set out to and what you wanted me to…help me get it right with truth.
3> In your communication, confirm specific contributions to foster confidence, confirm competence and reinforce appreciation and value – I want to be confident I’m doing the right thing and that it matters and is appreciated.
4> Be a collaborative partner, not a parent – ask for input regarding what you as a leader/manager might be missing or how you can help or how anything can be improved.
5> Go beyond the individual – facilitate all of the above as a collective team experience to nurture camaraderie and sense of unified effort and purpose – a feeling of we’re all in this together so let’s help each other, encourages everyone to do better.
The above could be summarized this way:
Consistent communication that provides clarity and feeds confidence in a collaborative culture will maximize contribution.
Focus on the human need and you’ll be amazed at the potential and performance you’ll unlock! This is critical mindset shift – don’t look so much at the performance or behavior you want to fix, but look for what needs can be met that will then produce the performance/behavior you want.
| Resources |
Want to learn more about being a better manager of the human experience? Grab a copy of our executive/leadership briefing The Human Quotient: The Most Potent Force for Your Business Success. You can pick it up on Amazon.