Friday September 27, 2019 0 comments
By Ariana Friedlander
Justin Salisbury was introducing Zach Mercurio at the Larimer County Workforce Symposium the other week when he said, “There’s a human being behind every employee that I think we sometimes forget about.”
An interesting phenomenon is happening as the pace of technological advancement speeds up...we are developing new and deeper understandings of what it means to be human.
Previously held beliefs that dominated management best practices are being repeatedly shattered by research: That humans are purely rational. That we are best motivated by money. That the brain stops developing as we become adults and can no longer change.
Indeed, it turns out we are emotional beings capable of rationalizing our decisions. We are more motivated intrinsically than by external rewards or punishment. And possibly the most groundbreaking discovery of the 20th century, our brains possess neuroplasticity.
It’s true that technological advancements will continue to change the dynamics of the workforce. The 4th industrial revolution is upon us. AI looms, fostering fertile grounds of uncertainty that creates palpable fear. People are making machines ever more capable of doing complicated tasks.
We might draw correlations between humans and machines. It’s natural to draw metaphors to that which we are in close proximity to. It wasn’t long ago that we, as a species across cultures, defined the functions of the human body in comparison to the eco-systems we resided in.
While comparisons might be made, make no mistake: humans are not machines! And the thing that’ll make a leader, a manager and employers successful is their abilities to treat employees like humans.
Humans are hardwired to want to connect and belong. The limbic section of the brain is constantly evaluating, do I or don’t I belong. When we don’t experience belonging, our amygdala triggers a threat response and we become distrusting. Treating employees like humans means creating a space where they feel a sense of connection and belonging.
Humans are meaning-making machines. According to researcher Zach Mercurio, when we don’t feel our work is meaningful we become depressed, disengaged, and unmotivated. Treating employees like humans means helping them find meaning in even the most mundane tasks.
Humans are emotional and there’s no such thing as leaving your personal stuff at home. We bring our whole selves to work. Treating employees like humans means recognizing and supporting the whole person. Listening with empathy and showing concern are essential skills in any successful leader or manager of the 21st century.
Bottom line: If you want employees that care about your organization and care about doing good work, you have to treat them like humans. That means showing you care about them, pure and simple!