In a litigious society where we have put up so many boundaries to avoid harassment cultures, I think we have allowed the pendulum to swing so far into a disconnected, apathetic and arm’s length culture that it isn’t fostering the engagement we need in our business relationships to get real results.
Statistics are incredibly clear that as a society, we achieve better results when in a positive, loving and nurturing environment. If you find that hard to believe, here are just a few articles for your reading enjoyment:
- “If Culture Comes First, Performance Will Follow” – Forbes
- “Mimicry, Motivation, And How Corporate Culture Gets Built One Face At A Time” – Fast Company
- “Proof that Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive” – Harvard Business Review
*Google it! Trust me, there have been many studies on how positive emotions in the workplace produce better results than negative emotions.
Now, some are going to be uncomfortable with my use of the word “nurturing” because it feels so soft. We have become so used to saying “It’s not personal, it’s business” that we have started to believe it.
We have convinced ourselves that it is indeed possible to exist as two separate human beings: What happens in one area of our lives (business) doesn’t affect the other (personal). We have created policies that don’t allow for human imperfection and life inconsistency.
When “life” happens and an employee is running late because a puking baby resulted in needing to change clothes…twice, packing the kids into the car and realizing lunches were left in the house, running into traffic or any number of things… we penalize tardiness.
We “allow” employees to be sick or to take care of their sick loved ones during a defined number of days in the year. Think about how ridiculous that sounds. You are only allowed to have 5 sick days so heaven forbid you are sick for 6 or have kids that might consume through those in the first quarter of the year.
When a team member starts to display performance issues, I too often see managers adopting a negative, pessimistic and blame-based approach. This is not a productive route to take.
The Power Of Positive Leadership
If I have a team member struggling, my first thought is always how I should be leading better or differently, and I always consider what might be going on with them personally that could be affecting them professionally.
We are naïve to think how helping a family member through cancer, dealing with an ailing parent, raising three kids as a single parent or struggling through having a spouse with an addiction could NOT affect a person in their work.
And yet, again we seem to think it’s possible – even expected – to separate emotions and mental processes to a point where the personal circumstances can be blocked from professional outputs.
I love what Bob Chapman says of Berry Wehmiller in the book “Everybody Matters:” That everyone in your company is someone’s sister, brother, mother, father or child and is worthy of respect (paraphrased).
Life can be so beautiful and can be incredibly dark for all of us. The resilience of humanity to find beauty in the dark places is an incredible thing to witness.
The question is, as business owners, leaders and humans… What role do we play in people’s lives daily? Are we often creating their darkness/stress or are we being a source of hope and encouragement that helps them get through tough times?
I realize this topic is controversial. All the risk-averse individuals will comment that I’m a lawsuit waiting to happen, and the critics will ask for scientific data and proof that caring matters. Even when I provide research below, some will still fight this concept.
That’s OK, because if you are cynical, you probably haven’t experienced a culture that embraces a love for humanity as it is and without condition. But because I want to meet people where they are, here are the studies showing the rate of employment discrimination claims in organizations that have a dissatisfied and disengaged workforce. Among U.S. workers who disagree or strongly disagree that they are treated with respect at work, 90% report one or more discrimination or harassment experiences at work.
Here is the research showing how the rise of endorphins in your brain produces XYZ, which in turn produces better productivity according to The Economic Times. “DOSE: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphin— in your brain are known as the ‘happiness hormones.’ These can also be called your ‘success hormones’ because apart from a happy mood, they give you optimism, energy, connect with people and higher focus and thus elevate your drive, leadership and confidence at work.”
Add A Little DOSE To Your Workplace Culture
How can you help increase the DOSE hormones in the workplace? I’ll give you a few ideas:
Don’t be afraid to hug people… but don’t be weird.
Everyone is different in their comfort level with being touched. I get that and try to be cognizant of this. My life philosophy is that if we have met once, then we are friends and I think we should hug when we meet again.
I try to read body language and ask people if they are a hugger, so trust me, I’m not advocating creating awkward physical interactions with your team and business relationships. Most people are appreciative of an appropriate side hug, and appropriate physical touch scientifically makes your endorphins start to fire in your brain, and for most bring motivation, security and positive feelings.
Tell people how awesome they are… not praise their performance just because it’s what leadership books say you should do.
And I mean tell them how great they are because of WHO they are not just WHAT they do for you. Do you know how meaningful it is when you can tell a team member that you just really appreciate their heart for their family and how incredible it is that they sacrifice their time with a smile on their face to support their family in the hard stuff?
THAT shit makes people feel awesome!!! This isn’t an empty phrase of “nice job on that report”. This is truly acknowledging who they are as a person.
CAVEAT: You must actually know your people to be able to do this, which means you need to have a relationship with them which takes time… a lot of time! Listening for 10 minutes longer than you want to, enduring a boring story about a kid’s musical performance, being sympathetic to life situations that you don’t understand, etc. Put in that extra effort and you will be rewarded.
Have fun! Genuine fun. Not just for show.
Truly have fun with your people; both team members and clients alike. Be you and create opportunities for fun. It sucks to just work all the time and never laugh or enjoy yourself.
And I’m not talking about hosting formal “morale events” where everyone there feels like they need to be on their best behavior and make a good impression with the higher ups or those in power. I’m not talking about forced potlucks and team lunches (although those can be great).
Find out what your people like to do and plan it. Buy all the food, all the drinks and let people let loose and create a safe environment where they can be themselves.
All We Need Is Love
For the employment defense lawyers reading this blog post, yes I already have a good lawyer. 😉 Please hear what I’m advocating for in this post and what I’m NOT supportive of.
People need to know you care about them, and they should also like you. It sounds simple, yet so revolutionary that in business it’s important that people like us. I hear all the time from leaders that “I don’t need to be liked; I need to be respected”.
Well good luck keeping your team and your clients satisfied!
I’m not advocating for making people feel uncomfortable and I’m not saying this comes natural to everyone. Harassment is all too common in today’s workplaces, and its awful yet still rampant. I reiterate: DON’T BE CREEPY!
Humans need to feel loved to reach their highest potential, and if the people they spend most of their waking hours with don’t express love and appreciation, then they will forever be caught on a discontented hamster wheel of life. They will never be able to fully contribute what they have to offer to their families, workplaces or society.
Our world needs humanity to be functioning at its best! We can play a critical role in this global revolution by simply caring about every relationship we have in our lives, whether that is in the office or outside of it.
We may not be running a non-profit, but our team members that are highly engaged in life will raise kids, and that may themselves leave an indelibly positive mark on the human experience some day!
Final remarks to those who have read this entire blog: I love you! No seriously… we likely haven’t met, but I want you to know you matter!
And you matter for who you are; not just what you can do. Who you are is incredibly important to this world being a better place, and my hope for you is that you can believe that and go do crazy awesome stuff!