Whether it’s Black Lives Matter, COVID-19, mass shootings, massive firings in some industries, the war in Ukraine, or the war in the Middle East… it is reasonable to expect that any, some, or all of these events -and others- have impacted and still impact the minds and hearts of the people in your charge at work.
I invite you (and keep in mind that I am not beyond imploring or begging) that you do not turn a blind eye to how your people are affected, and that how they are affected impacts their ability to perform. I’m inviting you to be human. Being human to another human being is not a sign of weakness nor does it entail a loss of power.
And why should you?
Well, because they are human. They’re not things.
Call me a master of the obvious and I will say that there is enough evidence to show that managers and business owners often override this with the doctrine of some dead economist to the effect that “everyone is looking for their self-interest” or “employees have contractual obligations”.
That, by the way, is eons away from the other discourse they hold for the gallery: “We’re a family”, “people are our most important asset”, and -wait for it- “We’re all in this together”.
Again, why should you?
Well, because you are human too. As managers and business owners, we work with people, not through people.
We work with what’s there – now. And that changes from day to day as people have successes, are tired, have children, are worried, navigate grief, move from one city to another, go back to school, etc. It also changes based on what is going on in their environments, close and remote.
Over the years I found that the best teachers and the best managers and business owners all work from the same premise: you teach/manage the people in front of you. Not the ones you wish you had, but the ones you have, the ones that are there.
And not only are they different from one another in abilities and readiness, but they are also different from one day to the next. That is who you work with. Every day.
People are struggling.
There is a lot going on and they carry quite a bit from the recent past.
On the odd chance that you feel this might be too touchy-feely for you, I will say this: Emotions exist. They affect what we think about and how we think. The reasonable thing to do is to acknowledge emotions and work with them. To dismiss them altogether is, well, irrational.
So the invitation is this: be human to your fellow human beings, in difficult times and always.
I know you can. I trust you will.
I originally published this text in the October 2023 issue of my monthly newsletter.