The Five Characteristics of a 'Being Human' Culture
These 5 characteristics have evolved over the years starting with my first blog, Can you be yourself at work?
Why should you have a ‘be human’ culture?
Having a human culture where people can be themselves makes our work environments better places to be. Consequently, we are able to leave the office with a spring in our step, excited to go home and share with our friends and family how our ideas and contributions were encouraged, supported, and taken seriously.
This makes us feel valued.
When we feel valued we do our best work. We generate new ideas and come up with different ways of doing things to get the job done. We’re innovative and excited, and we evolve to stay ahead of the competition. Productivity increases because people are motivated when they feel they’re excelling. They put positive energy into finding solutions instead of negative energy into just complaining about problems.
Having a human culture means that companies can attract and retain the best talent, no small undertaking in today’s competitive world.
Having a human culture means we are open to admitting and learning from mistakes, not creating a culture of blame.
When we support a culture where people are empowered to be their best selves – to be human at work – we not only make work a better place to be, but the world too.
What are the five characteristics of a ‘be human’ culture?
1. A clear purpose that everyone understands.
This is beyond a mission statement. Everyone in the company should understand the purpose of what they are doing, and how they are contributing to a greater whole. They should be able to express this authentically in their own words.
As humans, we question everything, so as employees it is no wonder we want have questions like, ‘Why should I support what this organisation is trying to do?’ ‘Do I personally want to invest in its growth?’ answered.
Leaders need to take the time to explain ‘the why’ so everyone who is part of team feel personally committed.
2. Authenticity and trust in communications.
Messages delivered with authenticity have so much more power. When leaders merely present ‘corporate’ messages, they can sound forced. Supporting honest dialogue amongst employees and leadership builds trust.
3. Varied, yet complementary, communications.
Not everyone learns or processes information in the same way. Does your company accommodate all communication preferences? Some people like to hear messages (live or recorded) some prefer written comms e.g. emails or Slack. Some people want to debate!
Do you deliver your messages in a variety of ways to ensure that they reach everyone? What’s your mechanism for ensuring you don’t communicate in just one way?
4. Diversity - of people, and ideas.
Not just in the social sense of the word, although this is important as well. But what is really makes a difference is creating an environment where people can voice ideas, even if they are outside the norm. Promoting open forums, either in person or via technology, can give people space to experiment with ideas.
5. An environment that allows everyone to be their best self.
This means different things to different companies, but with the advancement of technology that allows us to work virtually anywhere we should ask ourselves, ‘Does this company support people working when they are at their best?’ Could a flexible working approach, e.g. allowing employees who work best in the morning to leave earlier, or supporting those who want to work at home? Are the right feedback structures in place?
These are the five characteristics I believe a company should cultivate to build a human culture, but it is important to remember every company is unique. To build a human culture you must lay good foundations, but then it is all about evolving from within. You can look at other companies for inspiration or best practice examples, but what works for them won’t automatically work for you. It isn’t one size fits all!
Your culture will be unique to your company, and another company’s will be unique to theirs.