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MP900442941-man-and-womenHuman at Work web-posts have been running here since 2011. But does Humanity at Work also bring corporate success? Let’s see how it can make that difference in performance.
Targets or People? This unspoken statement manifests in actual conflict in work-cultures and also smaller teams. It’s either, keep to ‘TARGET-driven’ principles OR ‘PEOPLE-driven’ principles. But, are these two mutually exclusive?

In spite of HR support in organisations, bullying, intimidation, sleights, impatience, manipulation and dishonesty remain rampantly present. The evidence is from extraordinary access to real issues of executives, including very senior, managers, including BLUE-CHIP internationals. When coaching teams, we collect profiles of the issues that executives are experiencing. The results are surprising. In one of the worst cases, 63% of executives faced ‘difficult & challenging behaviour‘ for which they sought professional coaching. Most of these issues were due to ‘someone senior’ (66%), peers (25%) and ‘junior staff’ (9%). Remember that the worst organisations do not procure coaching – we are seeing the better organisations!

In this same example, almost 50% of the executives were coached for ‘insecurity/confidence issue preventing pro-activity‘.

The results suggest this: If we exhibit inhuman, anti-social behaviours to colleagues, then they may become insecure, lack confidence and exhibit less pro-activity.

In the same company, 38% of the team brought their ‘stress’ issue for coaching, further evidence for poor corporate performance.

While these results are very poor, we are seeing, right now, situations in which intimidation and anti-social behaviours (including belittling and aggression) are affecting the well-being of senior executives and necessarily, the performance of both the individual and the organisation.
Part of the answer may be to explode the myth that at work we have to bring a harder ‘persona’ into the work-place. Such exhibitions of toughness and carelessness with colleagues show one thing; emotional inadequacy. Much more needs to be done to weed these people out during the recruitment phase and, much more remains to be done about those who are in-company, who need remedial attention.

Targets+People Focus AND Corporate Performance

Can we have target-focus AND people-focus for high productivity? Clearly, I believe that we can and there are models for that. As part of my research for ‘Self-coaching Leadership – Simple Steps from Manager to Leader‘ (Wiley), we contacted a number of international organisations. What have the most ‘human’ organisations done, whilst remaining highly competitive AND financially successful? Typical examples include these:

  • Focus on a small number of key-performance indicators
  • Build business plans and objectives from the coal-face (not top-down)
  • Drive for targets
  • State behaviours positively (use ‘do’ language, not ‘do not’ language)
  • Attend to the holistic needs of the work-force.

How does attending to people-needs manifest in performing companies? The theme is about helping staff to be at work by relieving them of competing issues (like running a home and family). An example from Malvern, PA., is having a laundry and dry-cleaning service that collects and returns at the work-place. Or a white-goods service arrangement where keys are collected and returned at work. Here are other examples:

  • Coaching resource
  • Canteen for staff & family (including children), from early morning to mid-evening
  • Creche
  • Bring your dog to work (provided work colleagues in your work-area do not object)
  • Flexible working hours

Some workers have their breakfast with their families at work when it is more efficient to do so. Ditto supper, when the partner may bring the kids in, so they eat together before bed-time. If you do not have to go out to do your dry-cleaning, you save time. If you can spend time with your family in the work environment, you can stay around longer.

And the effect? Working attendance tends to go up. (By itself this does not mean much as working attendance increase often leads to no further productivity and sometimes, less)! But in our experience, productivity goes up with working attendance. Stress-levels go down.

In-company ‘people-focus’ spews out to customers and stakeholders, improving customer-experience. Yes, you can have a productive and competitive business AND take better care of your people. This philosophy is mirrored in the facilitative-coaching ethos, ‘Well-being and performance of the individual’. It’s the human-at-work approach! It is also the coaching-leader way to manage.

© Angus McLeod, 2014


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