The most underused asset at work: being human

By William Arruda

I was moderating a panel on leadership for a client of mine and received the bios of the three very accomplished executive panelists. All three bios were simply a list of credentials— impressive credentials, but that was it.

There was nothing human. Nothing personal. Nothing that gave the audience any understanding of their thoughts on leadership or success. This robotic resume in prose form is all too common, and it erases our most valuable asset: our humanity. Especially in our digital world, being yourself—your unique, human self—gives you a distinctive competitive edge.

Yet somehow we have been led to believe that at work, we must diminish our humanity, behaving (and appearing) like robots who are prized for their automation and conformity. When we get to the office, we leave our true selves at the door, ramp up our “work” mindset and keep our human traits muzzled until we leave for the evening. The belief that we need to be as efficient as an LED bulb and as knowledgeable as Wikipedia, as productive as an assembly line and as human as a doorknob, might have worked in the industrial age, but we have been in the relationship economy for decades.

Today, we can’t afford to forget the one ingredient that’s essential for business success— humanity. After all, relationships are the currency of business. More than ever, business is a truly human endeavor.

A recent Harvard Business Review article “Why Do So Many Managers Forget They’re Human Beings?” by global-leadership expert Rasmus Hougaard, says the problem is even more pronounced when it comes to leaders. “The problem is about 70% of leaders rate themselves as inspiring and motivating – much in the same way as we all rate ourselves as great drivers. But this stands in stark contrast to how employees perceive their leaders. A survey published by Forbes found that 65% of employees would forego a pay raise if it meant seeing their leader fired, and a 2016 Gallup engagement survey found that 82% of employees see their leaders as fundamentally uninspiring. In our opinion, these two things are directly related.”

With the rise of AI and robots entering the workplace, human beings have an unprecedented opportunity to offer something different and compelling in the workplace. Irate customers have limited patience for automated assistance, and even the customers who aren’t irate will notice when your organization communicates with a human touch. It’s never been so easy to compete with your electronic co-workers. Ironically, technology is making people more human. When you are willing to be an empathetic, caring person, you’re able to connect on a deeper, more emotional level with stakeholders. What’s more, the principles of personal branding, paired with the tools of digital branding, help you broadcast your humanity and the traits that make you unique:

1. Know yourself. Understand what makes you, you. Be willing to bring your unique value to work. The first step in successful personal branding is becoming self-aware.

2. Be Curious. Being interested in others is much more important than being interesting. Make it a point to get to know—really know—the people you work with. Know what’s important to them, along with their quirks and their dreams.

3. Be Generous. That means putting others first and showing you genuinely care. It’s about acknowledging others, expressing gratitude and making sure those around you know you appreciate them for the value they deliver.

4. Exhibit modesty. No one likes a braggart. Don’t tell people that you’re smartest person in the room; show them your value through your actions. Humility is an attractive brand attribute.

5. Encourage individuality. Help others drop the robot mindset. Give them permission—or a mandate—to integrate more of what makes them human into everything they do every day.

6. Resist conformity. At work, there are times when conformity makes sense. When you’re adding the company logo to your PowerPoint deck, for example, you can’t make it purple because it’s your favorite color if your company logo is green. But when it comes to the aspects of your job that involve other people, being a conformist will work against you. Instead, be willing to stand out. Avoid tired jargon. Speak with your own brand of clarity.

Ultimately, the most important message of personal branding is “Be yourself.” There’s only one of you, and the world of work would be missing an important ingredient if you weren’t willing to proudly share who you are. So be human. Those around you will appreciate it, and you’ll actually enjoy work more.

Source: Forbes

The future of work in America: People and places, today and tomorrow

By Susan Lund, James Manyika, Liz Hilton Segel, André Dua, Bryan Hancock, Scott Rutherford, and Brent Macon

The US labor market looks markedly different today than it did two decades ago. It has been reshaped by dramatic events like the Great Recession but also by a quieter ongoing evolution in the mix and location of jobs.

In the decade ahead, the next wave of automation technologies may accelerate the pace of change. Millions of jobs could be phased out even as new ones are created. More broadly, the day-to-day nature of work could change for nearly everyone as intelligent machines become fixtures in the American workplace.

Until recently, most research on the potential effects of automation, including our own, has focused on the national-level effects. Our previous work ran multiple scenarios regarding the pace and extent of adoption. In the midpoint case, our modeling shows some jobs being phased out but sufficient numbers being added at the same time to produce net positive job growth for the United States as a whole through 2030.

The day-to-day nature of work could change for nearly everyone as intelligent machines become fixtures in the American workplace.

But the national results contain a wide spectrum of outcomes. A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute, The future of work in America: People and places, today and tomorrow (PDF–4.41MB), analyzes more than 3,000 US counties and 315 cities and finds they are on sharply different paths. Automation is not happening in a vacuum, and the health of local economies today will affect their ability to adapt and thrive in the face of the changes that lie ahead.

The trends outlined in this report could widen existing disparities between high-growth cities and struggling rural areas, and between high-wage workers and everyone else. But this is not a foregone conclusion. The United States can improve outcomes nationwide by connecting displaced workers with new opportunities, equipping people with the skills they need to succeed, revitalizing distressed areas, and supporting workers in transition. Returning to more inclusive growth will require the combined energy and ingenuity of business leaders, policy makers, educators, and nonprofits across the country.

> Read the full report on the McKinsey website

 

Source: McKinsey

Why People Get Away with Being Rude at Work

by Shannon G. Taylor  Donald H. Kluemper W. Matthew Bowler Jonathon R. B. Halbesleben

Bad behavior at work can have very real consequences. People who experience workplace rudeness, for example, report lower engagement, suffer more mental and physical health problems, and are more likely to burn out and quit their jobs. And nearly all of us are affected by rudeness and other types of workplace misbehavior, like interrupting and exclusion: Estimates suggest 98% of employees are on the receiving end over the course of a year.

Given bad behavior’s prevalence and impact, surely leaders take reports of it seriously, get the facts, and punish offenders, right? Some scholars have noted that, when information about misbehavior surfaces, savvy leaders know better than to blame the messenger. Unfortunately, our research paints a picture that is much bleaker.

We set out to investigate how people in positions of power view victims and perpetrators of workplace misbehavior. We first studied an organization that operates a chain of casual dining restaurants. We gave each employee a list of the names of every other employee who worked in their restaurant, and asked them to report who they were rude to and who was rude to them. We then asked managers to evaluate the behavior of each employee. Across the five restaurants we studied, 149 of the 169 employees (88%) and 13 of the 14 managers (93%) participated. Notably, those employees who reported being victims of rudeness were largely perceived by their managers as perpetrators of rude behavior. And the employees who were reported as being rude to others weren’t seen that way by their managers under two conditions: they had a tight relationship with the boss or were high performers. Continue reading

When Passion Leads to Burnout

 

By Jennifer Moss

You’ve no doubt heard the well-worn advice that “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” It’s a nice idea but a total myth.

When we equate work we love with “not really working,” it propagates a belief that if we love it so much, we should do more of it — all of the time, actually. Who needs a day off when you’re not really working?! There’s a whole cottage industry committed to proliferating this mindset — from books, to talks, and even kitsch stores selling piles of “Work is Bliss” quotes on merchandise. This type of mentality leads to burnout, and the consequences can be both dire and hard to detect.

As an expert in workplace happiness and someone who speaks internationally about workplace well-being, it’s easy for me to be consumed by my passion for the topic. I love my work, and as such, can easily fall victim to burnout. It’s one of the ironies of my job. Yet, I would never claim that it doesn’t ever feel like work. It is more like being involved in a complicated love affair. One minute it’s thrilling, passionate, engaging. The next, it’s exhausting and overwhelming, and I feel like I need a break. Continue reading

New Leadership Role? Find The Right Tools For Success

By Roger Dean Duncan

People often ask me what’s the most common issue I’ve seen in four decades of executive coaching. The answer is easy: inadequate preparation for leadership.

Too many “leaders” reach their positions through attrition. They’re shifted into leadership roles because somebody else retires or otherwise moves on. They may have been competent in sales or engineering or some other role, so it’s assumed they can lead. But they often can’t.

An instructive example comes to mind. Frank, a new client, invited me to his office. He had just become CEO of a global energy firm. The founder, in his mid-80s, had finally decided to “step aside.” (He couldn’t bring himself to use the word “retire.”)

Here’s our conversation—

Frank: “I want you to write a speech for me.”

Rodger: “I don’t write speeches anymore.”

Frank: “But you can do it, can’t you?” (He knew I could do it, because earlier in my career I wrote speeches for presidential cabinet officers, U.S. Senators, and others.)

Rodger: “Yes, I can write speeches. But that’s not what I do now. I coach people on leadership and performance issues.” Continue reading