In adverse times, our true colors emerge –  for us as individuals and especially as leaders and organizations. With all the transformation in the world, this is a perfect time to consider how your beliefs and actions prioritize and value people. Do your actions adequately represent your values? Are you currently expressing appreciation for those that contribute to your success?

Companies often make decisions based on what’s best for business over what’s best for people. They view people and profits as an either/or proposition versus seeing that both can exist.

In a meta-analysis of 339 independent studies by Gallup, research found that when employees and customers feel taken care of, profitability and other metrics such as customer loyalty, employee productivity, and company earnings improved, including marked reduction in turnover.

While it’s evident that investing in employees is good business, this approach is not always baked into strategy and decision making. Our view is that taking care of business means taking care of people.

Here are some suggestions to consider as you prioritize your people (and, therefore, profitability):

INVEST IN PEOPLE! – Human Development is a Smart Strategy.
With the pace of change and uncertainty, leaders need new tools to successfully manage not only their personal lives, but the multiple layers of responsibility at work.  If your leaders and teams have not acquired new bandwidth of skills such as awareness and resilience, your strategy is at risk. Taking time to invest in building skill sets in your leaders and across teams will elevate new collaborations, increase efficiency, and improve ability to generate results.  These investments involve an agreement between your CEO and your head of HR.  Evolve your HR policies to build in personal development into your curriculum for leaders and teams.

What is the mission of your organization? What are your values? How are they brought to life in your culture, expressed in customer service? How are your values represented by your decision making and choices when employees and customers are at stake? Understand and be clear about WHO and WHAT you are and ACT on these principles.

Asking questions is a critical leadership skill yet time dedicated to formal, active listening is rare. There is a gold mine of intelligence available when you create the space and ask the right questions. You may want to start with: What would it take to solve this problem? How does it get better than this? Allocating time specifically dedicated to asking questions and listening, inviting multiple perspectives and voices to contribute, can facilitate engagement and trust to a unified workforce propel your organization toward innovation and success..

Many of us experience the ‘home’ me and the ‘work’ me. Today, we can’t afford to not have full-presence at work. We need the BEST of humans to show up in order to glean maximum engagement, innovation and creativity. Workplace culture and values establish a safe container. How your culture supports vulnerability and authenticity allows for real human ebb and flow and responds to mistakes or shortcomings with coaching, compassion and understanding vs. reprimanding or shame.

This is critical to build a culture of service, support, and longevity. There is no such thing as one job being more important than others. EVERYONE is vital to an organization’s success (patient transporter who gets the patient from the ER into the OR with care and presence contributes to a successful outcome for the patient; when employees know that they are a vital part of the team, they take pride in their work). Do you distribute value to all levels and areas of your operation, where can you improve?

Flat structures facilitate sharing of information, resources, and networking more evenly to maximize cross functional collaboration and innovation. Do your leaders stay isolated from the rest of your organization or are there opportunities for multi-level, multi-experience, and diverse connections that allow for innovation and creativity?

If people see that you are comfortable with conversations about mental health, they will be too. How are you supporting your people to ensure they stay engaged? Are you allocating time for check ins? Have you created programming and resources that support the development of whole person health and well-being?

Does your organization share expansion and contraction across all levels of the organization? For instance, in times of budget reductions, do your Executives and Leadership take reductions to their salaries as a statement of solidarity. It’s not just employees who are either furloughed, laid-off, or take reductions. Are budgeting decisions aligned with your values and how you want your employees and customers to perceive your brand?

For the past 50 years, technology innovation has taken the lead and focus in driving regulation and assisting people to operate at the top of their license (rather than replace human interaction). Has your organization invested equally in your leaders and workforce to keep pace with the change and pace of your technology? How are you prioritizing human connection and experience over technology? Is your organization facilitated by technology or run by technology?

Communication to customers and employees must be real, authentic and founded in company values as well as be truthful and compassion. Radar detectors for honesty are high and will be recognized with dollars and loyalty. Executives need to be able to deftly navigate not only difficult economic conditions,  but also tense cultural moments. More than a few are going to be morally unequipped to do so or won’t have the communication and leadership skills to avoid botching it and alienating employees or customers. Case in point: the CrossFit and Greg Glassman crisis – a single incentive tweet (followed by a lukewarm apology), caused hundreds of affiliates to sever ties with the company. Reebok cancelled a nine-year partnership with the company, as did some all-star athletes of the CrossFit competitive circuit.

Finally, Investing in Human Development is a Smart Business Strategy.
This is why we combine coaching with consulting — to support leaders and organizations build capacity and address business challenges and opportunities simultaneously..  This approach allows for a more lasting and self-sustainable operation.

Let us know how you are putting people first in your organization is working for you, and if you need help making this transition.