Updated: Jun 17
As soon as some people put on their work clothes every morning, it is as if the door to their emotions slams firmly shut. Numbers, profit, strategy, logic – they believe that if it makes “sense”, then it must be the answer. If you allow your emotions to cloud the issue, this will never lead to the optimal result. Emotions cannot be trusted in the workplace, and they expend far too much time and energy.
I use the phrase “some people” with caution. It is dangerous to make sweeping generalisations in this case, but I would like to assert that I think that we could all care a little bit more about others at work. The bottom line wouldn’t suffer if we were all to care just that little bit more.
This is especially important in the HR industries. We touch people’s lives every day, and it is our duty of care to ensure that we engage with them as humans rather than assets or liabilities.
You are not forwarding a CV to a hiring manager; you are forwarding a person, together with their hopes and dreams. If someone becomes pregnant, they do not become persona-non-grata in terms of succession planning. If someone has personal issues, maybe you could take the time to solve them rather than label them difficult and consign them to the sidelines? If you are struggling to give people the individual attention that they deserve, maybe you should be working with fewer people?
There are lots of other examples, but this all boils down to one thing: if you make the smallest extra effort to ask people the “right” questions, if you listen and “care” about the answers, then often what could grow into a significant issue can be nipped in the bud.
We could all be so much better than this, myself included. There are times in my career where I wish I had spoken up and defended someone, where I could have given someone more support, or simply where I could have told someone that I cared.
Over the course of my career, I have put many of these moments down to “the way business is run”, but actually, every time, it was I who made the choice not to care enough. I lost sight of the people behind the processes, conveniently choosing to look at the numbers rather than the human cost. Over recent years, my beliefs have softened, and I now try to put people first whenever I can.
There is currently a wave within the workplace that is gathering momentum – people are ever more empowered in their careers. They are less tied to their employers; they are increasingly flexible in terms of the way they work and the best employers are making huge efforts to ensure that their staff are “engaged.”
Engagement is a pretty mythical word, isn’t it? Actually, I believe that the key to engagement is simple:
You have to care a bit more for the people you work with. You have to care about the impact of your business on the wider world. You have to give your staff a meaningful reason to care back.
“Caring” is not a business metric to be measured on a scale of 1-10.
You either do, or you don’t. And, it doesn’t cost a thing....
first published 2015