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.
So what does a 17th century English poet have to say about the modern American workplace? Plenty.
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.
I’ve been traveling a lot these last two weeks: Visiting New York City and then speaking in Toronto, Los Angeles, and the Pacific Northwest. And everywhere I go I can’t help but talk about The “L” Word. I bring up The “L” Word during informal conversations meeting people on the plane, in pubs and restaurants, on the train, at conferences. I’ll talk about it anywhere.
“So all this talk about eliminating fear from the workplace is great, but wait a minute," you may ask, "Can’t a little fear be a good thing?”
“After all, I seem to perform better when I’m on edge and working under pressure!”
“A healthy dose of fear wakes me up and makes me sharper.”
So what about that? Can threats and fear actually be useful? Should we really aim to eliminate ALL fears?
We have a lot to talk about! If we are going to really dig in to a conversation about something as apparently bold and controversial as moving from fear to safety by decreasing indifference and increasing love at work, then we’ll need a shared understanding of some basic concepts. ... To get us started, these next few blog posts will explore what fear is, why it is important, when it is good and bad, and what to do about it when it’s bad.