Five Things that Connect Being Human and Businesses
Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: (singing). This is Write Your Own Story: Three Keys to Rise and Thrive in Life and Business. I'm your host, Rebecca Fleetwood Hession. Hey, it's Rebecca. How's your day going? Guess what? I'm recording this on December the 8th, and my audiobook just hit Amazon. Ah, I'm so excited. One of my favorite parts of the process for this book was recording the audiobook. I don't know, it was just fun. So that's my excitement for today. It's not at all what the episode is about, but I wanted to share with you, my excitement, because we're humans. We're not machines here to produce. We are beautiful humans. And humans have emotion, which is what I'm here to talk about. Business is human. Let's just let that sink in for a minute. Don't just gloss over it like it's just some Instagram post that you're scrolling past. I want to dig into what that really means, because, "Well, sure, business is human. People go to work. It's about people, blah, blah, blah." Hold on. The needs of humans and the needs of the business are very different. So humans, our needs are personal, emotional, and social. The needs of the business are to control, measure, and optimize. So both of those needs are crucial, but they need to be knitted together, and that's where things get a little wonky a lot of times. If you listen to the episode that I did a couple weeks ago about the money- making model of a business, I go back and I do a little bit of a history lesson about the shift from the agricultural age when we were all working together in a community, which was very human- focused because we needed to keep each other alive, quite frankly, into the industrial age model of work where we separated everything out so that we could control, measure, and optimize. But that control measure, optimize as the primary way we do business isn't going to work anymore. So what it's been in the last decade or so is we tried to put the people thing back into the business. It was this control, measure, optimize thing and we were like, "We've got to pay more attention to the people. Oh, we'll add a culture team. We'll put a foosball table in the break room." We tried to bolt on taking care of human needs, but we didn't fundamentally change the way that we saw work and did work. And so, that's not going to work anymore. It's mediocre at best. What we're in now is what I call the age of humanity, where we need the business model, control, measure, optimize goals, systems, processes, expectations, but we need to be very in tune with the humans and our human psychology, our human needs, which are personal, emotional, and social. And this last three years has put everything in perspective about our human needs. It's no longer optional. We've had it. It's not an option for us to build companies that don't honor our human needs. So we've never been in this place before, where the cultural expectations are at an all- time high. And when I say cultural expectations, because the people, the employees, at all levels have higher expectations about their human needs than they've ever had before. Before it used to be like, " Oh, I'll just suck it up and try harder." And no, that's not going to work, coupled with the economic bullshit that we're dealing with right now. And so, we've got money challenges and human needs and expectations are higher than they've ever been. And when we have money challenges, what happens is it exposes a lot of the flaws in the organization's structure, in leadership. Everything just gets harder. One of the ladies, I explained it this morning to, a client, is it's you're in a boat on a lake. Have you ever been boating? Let's talk about boating in December and everything's going great. You're tooling along, you can go fast. And then, a drought comes along and the water line starts to reduce. And as the water line goes down, it starts to expose that in the water there are trees and logs and big rocks that we didn't see before because the water level was so high we were just zooming past them. And now that the water level is low, these are a threat. You can't just zoom across the lake when the water's low. You've got to watch for the logs and watch for the rocks because any of them can have catastrophic damage to your vessel, to the boat. So it's not just about are, "Are going to have a good day? Did we bring the right snacks and beer and sunscreen?" It's like, " Are we going to make it across the water?" And so, this economic situation in tandem with the needs of the humans being so high is why things are just so damn hard right now. And let me also say, and I'm pretty sure I've said this on the show before. I say it a lot to clients, is We've been in this evolution of human needs increasing even before 2020. So the World Health Organization put burnout as an occupational phenomenon, I think it was in 2018 or 2019. So it was already like, "Oh hey, raising my hand, burnout." And then we got to 2020 and that was just gas on the fire. So we went into survival mode, which is a huge traumatic experience on our brains and bodies. And then, we come out of that. So we went burnout, trauma, we come out of that, and you saw the Great Resignation, because people just said, "I can't do this anymore." And then, you heard Quiet Quitting. So all of this is a continuum. They're not individual things. These aren't new things. They are a result of us not knitting together the human needs and the business needs in a really intentional way, which has to be done now. There's no other options if your organization is going to be successful. So I'm really seeing the response from leaders right now to this challenge fits in with psychology, the fight, flight, or freeze or fawn response. There's the leaders that are responding with fight, and those are the leaders who are going all in on control. They're like, " Get back to the office. We're going to put email trackers on so we know if you're actually working or not." And they are just, " Get everything under control." The flight leaders are like Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting, check out. They're going to go be a coach or work at the local university. They're just done. And unfortunately, a lot of the people that are done have been women, because they also were in charge of school and taking care of all the things at home, and it was just more trouble than it was worth. So we lost millions of women in the workforce over the last few years. The freeze leaders are just kind of like, " I'm just going to see what everybody else does. I'm going to lay low. I'm going to try to just keep this thing rolling and wait to see what somebody else does that works." And none of those are great options. None of those are move things forward options. And so, what I am designing for my clients is, " What is the move forward?" One, it's going to take a mindset that says, " I can't just look at the textbooks of leadership of what worked in the past, because that's not where we are." So the mindset is, " I'm willing to reflect and connect and create something to move forward." So this mindset of creating something versus copying something or living off of the habits and the patterns that worked before, we're in creation mode. We're creating what works, moving forward. And there are five things that are important in this age of humanity to knit together the human needs, which are personal, emotional, and social and the business needs, to control, measure, and optimize. And I'm going to go through those quick today, and I'm going to really hone in on one of them in particular in terms of things that you can do, whether you are the CEO, whatever role that you play, it doesn't matter where you sit in the organization. I'm going to give you some things today for you to be the leader that you need in the organization and be an influence in that way. So here are the five things. You ready? The first one is, we need to create an environment that is safe, and not just physically safe, psychologically safe. What does that mean? Psychologically safe means, " I feel like I can be myself. I can make mistakes. I can ask questions. I can challenge things if I don't understand." That's part of it. But it's also about, " Do I really know what my job is? What are the real rules of engagement? Not just what's written in a handbook, but how do we interact with each other? What do I do if I have questions? Who can I trust? What do you expect from me? How am I evaluated? What are the goals here? Am I playing a winnable game?" All of those basic aspects of work play into whether someone feels safe or not. And when you hire really talented people and you don't give them the rules of the game, they can't feel safe to bring their best. It's like if you took a bunch of basketball players that were really talented and you put them out on the court together, but you didn't tell them what the rules were or who played what position, they're not going to bring their best game. They're too busy trying to figure out how it all works. The same happens at work. So if the rules are different, depending on who you report to or whether it's the first quarter or the fourth quarter, literally, if things change so much that people just feel like they don't ever really know what's expected or what the rules are, that's going to be tough. So we're going to come back and look at safe. That's number one. That's the foundation. If you're building a house, that's the foundation. You've got to get that part right. The second thing is for people to feel seen. So there's safe, second is seen. When you come into an organization, you've had a life before you got there, you have a life when you get there, and you have hopes and dreams probably for a future after that job. To be seen as a whole person is an important part of honoring someone's human needs. You have a life outside of that job, especially if you have family and you're trying to coordinate things. And eight o'clock meetings completely disrupt everything at home, and we're no longer willing to deal with a lot of that crap. So being seen, for leaders to look at the team and look at the individuals and know who they are, not just call them by they're CSRs or they're ADMs or whatever, the acronym that you've created, but they're human beings, individual human beings with an entire life outside of this work that comes to the job every day. An easy example of this that I don't see people taking nearly enough advantage of is when somebody comes to an organization, we put them into a role, but we don't necessarily talk about or investigate enough about, " What did you do before you got here? What are some of the skills and experiences and gifts and talents that you have from your previous roles that we might be able to enjoy in the broader context of what we need here in the organization? What are your hopes, dreams, aspirations? Are you taking classes in something? Is there something you're really interested in that we could tap into?" So we get really pigeonholed into, " Well this is their job," but we have to see them as a whole person that had a story before they got there and is going to have a story after they leave. And it takes a special kind of leader and manager to do that, to move out of just the control, measure, optimize aspect of the work and see people as a whole person. So the third thing is to feel heard. So the deepest human needs are to be seen and heard. And so, once we go safe, seen, heard is, " Where do I go if I have ideas? What if I have problems? What if I don't agree with what's happening? What if I have a challenge? Is this an environment where I can be free to speak my mind? Am I going to have the opportunity to do so? If I'm not all that courageous in being able to exert myself, is they're going to be an environment and a manager that's going to come and ask for my opinion and ask for how I'm feeling about things and do I have any challenges?" And as a regular conversation, not as a semi- annual performance review. Oh, dear God. On the regular, are we having conversations? There are organizations that still don't have one- on- one meetings, that managers and leaders aren't having regular one- on- one meetings. There's a good place to start. People need to feel safe, seen, heard. The fourth one is inspired. But you notice that I didn't start with inspired, because until we feel safe, until we know where we are in this organization, " Do I belong here?" being inspired doesn't hit us like it we think it does until we get those basic needs met. But then, we want to be inspired. We want to know, " Where's this organization going? What problems are we solving? Who do we serve?" Getting people to understand that it's not just the daily work, it's for a greater purpose. So it doesn't even need to be that, " Hey, we've got this inspiring vision of captivating growth" in some way. It could just be articulating who you serve and why it matters to those customers, whoever they are, and telling the human story about the work. " Inspire me by showing me how my work matters. Inspire me by showing me how this organization is impacting other humans," because that's what our hearts and our brains and our souls are craving is, " Does this matter above and beyond the weekly meeting and my paycheck?" And being able to share those stories and articulate that all the way down to how their role matters and how you serve other humans is a big part of inspiration, which means managers and leaders in your organization have to like people. And that sounds silly, but you can think of people in your organization right now that would be super happy if they never had to have another conversation at work again. That's not going to work. That's not going to work. Managers and leaders need to like people and be willing to have courageous conversations, inspiring conversations. That's a part of the deal. The fifth thing that we need to bring together, human needs and business needs, is for everyone to feel supported, so safe, seen, heard, inspired, and supported. Supported is there's always going to be some stuff that isn't going well. Supported means, " I'm going to get resolution to some of these challenges. We're going to get the resources that we need." One way to think about this is an organization is a lot like a relay track team. Every department has their leg of the race, but the most important part of a relay track team is the handoff, how the work moves from one department to another. So supported means somebody's paying attention to the handoff as much as they are the individual departments and how the work flows, how the money- making model flows, and how the communication flows through the organization. " Am I being supported that my work doesn't get so frustrating that it just takes away any satisfaction that I had?" If the work gets too complicated, too frustrating, it will have a huge drain on people's engagement, their sense of satisfaction. And I wouldn't say the work needs to be easy. In fact, studies show that people will rise up and like a challenge. But that stuff that just makes it frustratingly hard, multiple levels of approval, and, " I can't get what I need when I need it and it slows me down," that stuff, that all fits under the category of being supported. Okay. So that's the case: safe, seen, heard, inspired, and supported. So what does that mean for you today? Remember, we're all about ditching permission and waiting for somebody else to do the right thing. We're about writing our own story around here. So what can you do today to help lead in this age of humanity from whatever role that you have? Ask yourself, "What are the things that make you feel safe at work?" Really sit and think about that and then go do those things. Some of the basic things that are pretty universal are be a great listener and create that space for people to feel seen and heard. We're all leaders in some ways, so we can model that kind of behavior. But look around your work team and just ask yourself, " What do we need to feel safe?" And then go and do those things. It will surprise you how some of those things are far simpler than you think. Ask questions. And it doesn't have to be just from your work group. Go and learn some of the other departments, " What's going on with them? How are they doing?" Get to know the other parts of the relay track team in your organization. And remember that safety and uncertainty are part of the same deal. Uncertainty, and I've talked about this a lot on the podcast, our brains are wired to always try to fill in the blanks of the story. " What's going to happen next?" So in order for us to feel safe, we have to have some degree of certainty. We have to have some understanding of how things are going to be handled. And so, in order to create an environment where people feel safe is to create an environment with clarity. " Here's the expectations. Here are the goals. Here are the rules of the game." All of those things gives people, " Okay. I know what we're doing here." And clarity comes with the need for context, " And here's why it matters. Here's how we got to this situation. Here's the context of things." And those are two questions just to always have in your back pocket as you're trying to create more psychological safety in your organization. " Can I get some more clarity? Could I get some more context?" Asking those two very simple questions can uncover a lot to help people feel more safe. Another thing to create safety is use really basic language. My rule of thumb is if you can't explain it to a seventh grader and have them understand, it's not clear enough. We don't need a bunch of corporate speak. Acronyms are terrible. Because think about when a new person comes into an organization and you start talking about the ESPs, SRCs, XYZs. A new person who is already feeling uncertain, trying to figure out where they fit in this organization and how to do their job, now needs a secret decoder ring to even figure out what y'all are talking about. So it's best just to leave the acronyms by the wayside and talk in full words, full sentences to make sure that everybody's on the same page. Another thing is to talk in metaphors and stories. I used the boat example earlier. If you're trying to communicate something, it's always best to find some everyday common way to describe that with a metaphor or a story. So then, you're not dependent on people understanding the business or the industry. If they can understand the metaphor and the story, then they can translate it to what you're trying to communicate or describe. So I always ask yourself, " What's a story or a metaphor that would help explain these things?" So that's what you can do. You can go out and create more clarity, context, help build an environment where people feel more safe. And you know what? This applies at home, too. This isn't just at work. This applies in all human relationships. So I hope you'll take something away from this today that you can use. And then, I hope you message me and tell me how you used it, because nothing lights my hair on fire more than that, than hearing from you and knowing how things are going. And if you really want to dig in and are looking for some coaching, I'm your girl. All right. I hope you make it a great day. Love you, mean it. ( singing) Thanks for listening to this episode. I would love it if you would leave a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts, and then go to wethrive. live. First thing you'll see is a place to drop your email and join the movement. I'll send you tools that you can use to thrive in life and business. ( singing) Hey y'all, fun fact. If you like the music for the podcast, that is actually my son, Cameron Hession. And I would love it if you would go to Spotify and iTunes and follow him and download some of his other music. My personal favorite is TV Land.
The needs of a business and the needs of a human are very different. Over the past ten years, we have tried to implement the idea that business is human, but have we been doing it well? In this episode, Rebecca looks at the needs of humans and companies separately and guides us to connect the two in a meaningful way. In a time of high cultural expectations, quiet quitting, and burnout, let's put people's needs back into the business the right way. Listen now.
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