On the wall in my last office there was a whiteboard.
On it, our projects and priorities.
To the side, questions. Reminders, challenges to self.
Question number one: How does this make people feel?
‘This’ could be anything. The new policy in draft. The project in planning. The development programme. The status update on our internal social network. The letter to an employee. The new shiny thing.
This people stuff that we do. Recruitment, reward, learning and development, induction, performance management. It cannot be separated from how people feel.
When we talk about engagement and motivation and meaning and performance, scratch the surface, see through the theory, and what is underneath is simply feelings.
Maya Angelou is often quoted on this subject. She said that we forget what people do and what they say but they never forget how we make them feel.
Apply this to people stuff. Your employees won’t remember much of their induction. They won’t retain all that much of the PowerPoint from the training course. They certainly won’t be likely to quote text from your employment policy or handbook.
We have built theory around simplicity…. in concept at least.
Because feelings are messy. Changeable. Inconsistent.
Something that can’t be turned into a percentage on an engagement survey. Cannot be represented in a project plan. But as people practitioners, something that should be at the forefront of what we do all the same. Even the difficult stuff, the not so nice part of the job, can be done with empathy and decency and with thought to the way people feel.
There has been an increasing call of late for work to become more human. The starting point for me is to keep the question in mind and in sight…… how does this make people feel?