Creating a work environment that focuses on people isn’t easy, especially if you work for a company that puts profit before people. But just because your company doesn’t prioritize its people doesn’t mean you’re powerless. As a leader, you are responsible for how you show up and make people feel, and you can make a difference in the lives of your employees and teammates, no matter your corporate culture. You can create a people-centric team.
And creating a people-centric team matters. Your employees, current and future, are prioritizing their ideal workplace culture. And if it’s not people-centric, you’ll lose the talent you need to meet your goals and move your teams and companies forward. You’ll be left behind.
According to a recent study performed by Korn Ferry, “By 2030, there will be a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people, or roughly equivalent to the population of Germany. This talent shortage could result in about $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues.” These predictions are staggering. And worrisome.
In fact, last week, I gave a keynote speech on creating a people-centric team or organization for the American Fuel and Petroleum Manufacturers Safety conference. This topic was well-received. Leaders across all industries are trying to figure out how to attract, retain and develop talent, but many don’t know where to start. It can be daunting, especially if a significant shift in corporate culture is required. To this point, an audience member asked me, “how can I create a people-first team when my company isn’t?”
Great question, and it’s a problem that’s solvable.
Because you don’t need a corporate initiative to move the needle toward building a people-centric team. What you need is personal initiative. Where do you start? Try these five tips.
1. Lead by example. How you show up sets the tone for your team. If you want your team to feel connected and collaborate well, behave in a way that inspires connection and collaboration. Be willing to tell personal stories that allow others to get to know you. Show them what good collaboration looks like by partnering with them on major initiatives. Be kind and compassionate and encourage them to treat each other similarly. Role model the behavior you’d like to see.
2. Make connecting a priority. Start every meeting off with a check-in. During my team meetings, we state how we are feeling and why. We also take turns telling a personal story. In my experience, sharing stories with vulnerability and openness sparks curiosity and makes people feel like they belong.
3. Talk about well-being. If you want to build a people-centric team, you must prioritize employee well-being. Start by regularly checking in on your teammates and asking how they are doing. Have beyond surface-level conversations. Dialog matters, and your employees want to know you care about their well-being. If they know you support their well-being, they are more likely to do what they need to do to take care of themselves, building a people-first team culture.
4. Give consistent recognition. Acknowledge your teammates’ and employees’ contributions regularly and ensure that everyone on your team is acknowledged. Everyone could use more praise and recognition, and when they get it from leadership, they feel seen and included.
5. Have difficult conversations. This advice may seem counterintuitive, but building a people-centric organization doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t give tough feedback or address issues. You should and you need to. People want to know where they stand, and they deserve to know if their performance isn’t meeting the team and company’s needs. People want to work for a leader who handles conflict and resolves issues effectively and decisively.
6. Don’t lose focus on business results. Being people-centric and results-oriented are not mutually exclusive; they go hand in hand. You can still drive performance and results and be people-centric. In my experience, the more you prioritize your people, the better business results you’ll achieve. Share your vision, set clear goals and expectations, confirm progress, course correct when necessary, and celebrate wins. Ideally, other leaders will see your success and want to follow your lead and transform their team into a people-centric, results-oriented team.
Creating people-centric teams and organizations is the way of the future. It takes time, effort, and intention, but it’s worth it. Start addressing these six points today, even if only in small ways. You must advocate for yourselves and your employees. Be the kind of leader who truly cares about creating a healthier workplace that supports your employee’s well-being and overall development. Be a leader worth following,
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