Almost six months ago, I broke my ankle. It was a serious injury, and I was told that I should not expect to return to normal for at least six months. As I approach this healing milestone, I have been reflecting on my broken ankle experience. I was surprised by the kindness I received from people I don’t know all that well, or even at all. I am heartened—really heartened—that so many people went out of their way to help me in my time of need.
Arguably one of the most difficult issues we face as a nation is race. We struggle to talk about these challenges, and we struggle even more to work through them effectively. So I was surprised to learn abut a team at the Department of Enterprise Services who had a risky and potentially difficult discussion about race and implicit bias that was effective, respectful and team strengthening. I wanted to learn more…
I had the chance to hear Michaela Beals and Josh Calvert present the content of this post at a Results Review to Washington State Governor Jay Inslee along with state agency leaders. I was impressed by the way they connected the State's Employee Engagement Survey results with practical insights into human motivation and an effective human-centered workplace. Thanks to Michaela and Josh for sharing their work here with the community of A Human Workplace. -Renée
People are struggling in most workplaces with disengagement, poor well-being, lack of diversity and inclusion, burnout, conflict, bullying and harassment, unethical behavior, poor performance, challenges to creativity, and lack of problem solving.
So what the heck are we doing to ourselves? And wouldn’t it make sense to do something else?
It’s hard to concentrate on writing tonight. You see, I’m excited…and nervous. Tomorrow morning more than eighty public servants are gathering from all over government to explore empathy and diversity at the June Human Workplace Meet Up in Olympia.
I’m thrilled and can’t wait to have this conversation with this caring community. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being anxious too. After all the subject of diversity is a challenging one and taps in to some of our most difficult and long-standing social issues.
This week we lost people who we mostly knew through their work and the impact they had on our lives. Kate Spade’s work clothed us beautifully and gave us self-expression, color, and design in the form of useful objects we enjoyed both practically and aesthetically. Anthony Bourdain’s work inspired us to discover the world and ourselves by meeting people in their neighborhoods, tribes, and homes exploring rituals, traditions, and creativity of food and much more.
Human beings have a natural inclination to categorize and sort in order to make sense of the world. But all our sorting can get out of hand. Especially when it comes to lean.
Every day in many of our organizations and teams, something besides people is considered most important. And when any of those other things take center stage, the consequences are usually not so good for people.
A few weeks ago, some 30 public servants gathered in Olympia to explore the question, "What does it really mean to be human-centered?" What follows is a summary of their advice for leaders and teams for how to put humanity at the center of our work ... with a few illustrations thrown in for good measure.
When you begin to advocate for a more human-centered workplace, you will probably hear a variety of reactions. Some people will be supportive while others will be confused, worried, or skeptical. A supportive reaction certainly feels better. But the other reactions are just as legitimate. And they are important, especially if we are going to practice what we preach and, you know, respect all the humans we work with. Let’s consider some possible reactions and how to respond in ways that are consistent with our human-centered values.
Hayley’s life had not been easy. Difficult pregnancies, a child with cancer, and her sister’s death had caused people in her life including work to gather around to support her in all kinds of ways. So when I asked her to tell me a story about a time when she felt loved at work, she had many examples.
But the story she told me in my research was, by comparison, silly and minor in her estimation. Still, it is the one she chose to share and speaks to the lasting positive impact a leader can have and the unexpected goodness that can come back to that leader in return.
Providing social services to the most vulnerable people in society is a very human endeavor. People often choose this field because they are compassionate and motivated to care for others. But social services can be some of the most physically and emotionally demanding but lowest paid work there is. This makes Carol’s story an especially heart-warming Love Story About Work.
Whenever I talk with people about the need to eliminate fear and indifference and increase love and safety in the workplace someone inevitably brings up the question of accountability. And when they do, others nod their heads in agreement and concern.
We are really, really worried about accountability.
Workplace fear is an all too common experience. Talk to almost anyone willing to be candid and they can tell you about a time, either past or present, of harmful fear at work. Those with fears in the past may still experience a kind of post traumatic stress disorder over it.
Others are not experiencing POST traumatic stress disorder.For others, the workplace is traumatic NOW. Right now, currently, all-the-time traumatic.