Key Questions To Ask Yourself When Creating A Human-Centric Culture
by Andreea D. Vanacker
Original article first appeared in Forbes
Creating human-centric cultures is about embracing new practices that focus on bringing greater humanity in the way we lead, manage and grow employees, along with our business. Traditional command and control models, with a fear-based leadership dynamic, are being replaced by more conscious leadership cultures with a stronger focus on purpose, psychological safety, growth and mental well-being of employees. Companies that want to flourish in the future should embrace these characteristics in a consistent manner. Below are a few questions leaders can ask themselves in order to start walking on the path to greater employee engagement, motivation and performance.
Do you have a strong purpose in the eyes of our employees, customers and partners?
Typically, leaders focus on their mission statements (what your company does) and vision (where you want your company to be in a few years), but the organizational purpose (why you do what you do) may sometimes be forgotten. Purpose-driven companies focus not only on their product/service offering but also on the positive affect they wish to have on people, the planet and their communities. Toms, for example, was built from day one on the one-for-one principle, which allows it to give away a pair of shoes for every pair it sells. It was not just simply about making shoes; it was a far greater purpose to give shoes to those in the developing world that may not even be able to afford a single pair. This philosophy of running a business with such a profound sense of purpose is what creates those strong bonds with employees, customers and partners.
But some may ask if this is a profitable way of doing business. Based on the Stengel 50 research, companies that are purpose-driven are significantly more profitable than other organizations. Also, purpose-driven companies are typically less hierarchical, focus more on employee empowerment and encourage adaptivity and transparency. This is often characterized by conscious leadership practices across the organization.
Are you fostering a growth mindset for your employees?
Organizations today need to not only focus on helping employees grow from a technical skill set perspective but also to support their development into adaptable and resilient human beings that are prepared for the future. As Shawn Achor states in Before Happiness, "75% of job success is predicted by three things (aside from intelligence): belief that your behavior matters, social support and the ability to view success as a challenge instead of a threat."
A positive mindset, strong relationships and our ability to deal effectively with stress will play a major role in our professional lives. Organizations need to continuously foster a "growth mindset" for individuals. Carol Dweck coined this term in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and highlighted how individuals that embraced a growth mindset were open to new challenges and believe that failure does not define them, but rather is seen as an opportunity to grow. In this quest for growth, we also need to help employees let go of imperfection. As Brené Brown said, "Healthy striving is self-focused: How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused: What will they think?"
Are you helping employees build their mental resilience?
Employees' mental wellness and resilience will have a direct impact on your organization's performance and productivity. If employees are stressed, due to work-related factors or personal life realities, cognitive performance declines. When employees are in a state of anxiety and stress, their focus is on survival, and their ability to think complex thoughts, be creative or even focus on long-term solutions is compromised. Leaders need to take responsibility in building the mental resilience for their teams before they can expect them to be at their best. And this is not a once-per-year activity where we talk about mental health stigma or do yoga. Only consistent measures will have a noticeable impact. Also, a culture of psychological safety is another key component. When people feel like they can be themselves and express themselves freely without fear of being judged, then we can create a culture of kindness, authenticity and high energy that will fuel results.
To summarize, leaders that build a strong sense of purpose, encourage their employees to continuously grow and understand the importance of mental wellness have an amazing opportunity to create cultures that their employees will be proud to be part of. Leaders that focus their attention on answering these three important questions are enabling their employees to regain a sense of courage, vitality and enthusiasm to face any future challenge. This is the beauty of human-centric cultures.