Organizations are made up of human beings. Now I know we all try to put on a good show, but let’s get real — underneath it all, we’re a hot mess. We’ve got more baggage than the Kardashians going on a ski trip. But through years of training ourselves, we’ve learned how to (most of the time) shove that humanness way down inside and present a more…*ahem*…”polished” version of ourselves.
But who are we kidding — we’ve all had those life-handing-us-lemons kinds of days, right? The days where the more chipper among us are talking us through how to make lemonade with the aforementioned lemons, all the while we’re contemplating precisely with how much velocity we’d need to throw one of those lemons to hit a particular colleague six cubicles down.
We’re humans. We’re imperfect. And sometimes, that imperfection is on full display. Take this guy, for example…
You see, we’re all just imperfect humans doing the best we can. That’s why it’s critical that we see organizations as habitats for human beings. That concept is the impetus behind what many call humanizing the workplace. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few ways to humanize company culture.
[bctt tweet=”Organizations ought to be viewed as habitats for humans. #leadership #companyculture”]
4 Ways to Humanize Company Culture
That idea, as simple as it sounds, could alter the trajectory of an company’s culture if applied appropriately. But where to start? I always advocate for the importance of learning to think differently before trying to do something differently. So here are some things to think through.
1. To humanize company culture, organizations need to view workplaces as environments within which people are living their lives.
Organizations need to view their workplaces in that way — as environments where their employees are literally living a huge chunk of their lives. Think about it. Most folks spend most of their waking hours at work.
[bctt tweet=”Build #companyculture as if people spend most of their waking hours at work, b/c they do. #leadership”]
2. To humanize company culture, organizations need to view employees as humans, not corporate cogs.
Remember those employees we’ve been talking about? We’ve been emphasizing that they’re humans, right? They’re not simply round pegs that fit into holes in our departments. A quick word of caution here. We’re all quick to nod our heads in agreement with the idea that folks aren’t cogs, but you’d be surprised at how much of what happens within organizations is still held over from antiquated management models within which employees were very much viewed as interchangeable parts.
[bctt tweet=”Employees are humans — not simply pegs that fit into departmental holes. #leadership #companyculture”]
3. To humanize company culture, organizations have to help leaders view their work differently.
As leaders, we have to view our work differently too. It’s not just about projects and products, though that’s certainly part of it. Leadership becomes increasingly human and personal. It’s about serving people and helping them grow and develop — helping them become more appropriately human.
[bctt tweet=”#Leadership isn’t just about projects & products. It’s about people. #companyculture”]
4. To humanize company culture, organizations and leaders should focus on developing employees as not only professionals, but as people.
Do we want folks to develop their job-related skills? Sure we do. But I’d argue that that’s such a limited view of development. As leaders, we have the opportunity — I’d even go so far as to say the responsibility — to serve our teams by coming alongside them and helping them develop as human beings in addition to helping them develop as HR folks, or organizational development professionals, or managers. Within servant leadership, the idea is that we want people on our teams to become more free, autonomous, and whole human beings.
[bctt tweet=”Great leaders develop employees not only as professionals, but also as people. #leadership”]
So let’s think differently about our respective workplaces. Since most of us spend the bulk of our waking hours at work, our organizations are literally habitats for human beings. They’re places where clumps of flawed, imperfect, lemonade-making (or lemon throwing, depending on your mood) humans come every day to not only work, but live. Let’s work toward making our organizations places where not only do we generate revenue and produce widgets, but we also make at least that piece of our employees’ lives a little bit better. Because working isn’t just work; it’s part of living life.