In the previous episodes of this series, we have spoken of the need for action that is undertaken by every team member to change behaviours, improve the dynamic of their team and raise Psychological Safety in order to lower their HumanDebt.
We call this the “people work” or the “human work”.
While there is work that can and should be undertaken by each individual in the team so that they better their own attitude, behaviours and wellbeing, when we refer to the “human work” we mean the common teamwork that is undertaken as a group.
This work largely consists of understanding how everyone feels, discussing it openly and then finding ways to affect a certain behaviour through interventions, exercises, workshops, etc.
There is a lot of resistance to the people work. Why is that?
One thing that we must remember when it comes to the “people work” is that the topic of emotions and wellbeing have been treated as a taboo in many enterprises for a long time. As such, the “people work” feels completely eerie to most of us.
Furthermore, no one feels either well-equipped to perform it or firmly tasked with it.
This is chiefly because the so-called “soft skills” that would ensure team members are able to understand their feelings and the feelings of others, have not been expected and utilised in the workplace and employees expect that their work consists solely of “hard skills”, knowledge and experience. In other words, traditionally in most workplaces, having empathy, a high EQ, a passion for self-improvement, etc., have not been regarded as essential or even desirable skills and no one was asked to employ them.
Secondly, even if these skills existed or would be easy to develop – which they are – people feel this is not part of their job description and like they aren’t “being paid to do these bits”, as there is no history in which the organisation has asked people to better themselves by examining emotions and human dynamics.
This is why organisations that are willing to overcome the above resistance points have to ensure they offer both clear organisational permission and support and encouragement.
They must, first and foremost change messaging to credibly signal the “people work” has now become a priority.
Then they must ensure they have raised awareness for the importance of the people work at every level of the organisation.
Following that, companies must kit out their employees with coaching and tools to aid the “human work” — ideally, self-serve tools to measure, improve and increase the good behaviours and suppress the negative ones while reemphasising the work must now be made a priority.
After that, as an organisation, they must support habit formation around these topics that have never before been raised or practised.
Lastly, they have to embed the efforts around the people work into the measurement of performance and start remunerating people for doing this human work so that they reassure them of the need and importance.
This does imply that the organisation demonstrates extreme awareness, trust in their people and takes autonomy and enablement of leaders and employees seriously.
No organisation can do the steps above before they have undergone a shift in mentality at the very top where they have clarity on the need and importance of the people work themselves and where they have a strong desire to change the culture and put their people first.
Join us again next week to dissect the “team-level people work resistance” where we will analyse the particular objections to the human work that team members and leaders may have.
The 3 “commandments of Psychological Safety” to build high performing teams are: Understand, Measure and Improve.
Read more about our Team Dashboard that measures and improves Psychological Safety at peoplenottech.com, or reach out on our contact page and let’s help your teams become Psychologically Safe, healthy, happy and highly performant.
You can order the book People Before Tech: The Importance of Psychological Safety and Teamwork in the Digital Age on Amazon.