Embracing The Human Value Proposition
Embracing capabilities that make us uniquely human to win in the workplace
Hello, and welcome to this week’s newsletter.
Embracing The Human Value Proposition at Work
What I’m Following
1.Embracing Human Work
Over the past year, I’ve spent thousands of hours teaching and training employees within organizations on how to work effectively in a hybrid and remote workplace.
While each employee and company is unique, there are some things that are a throughline in all of my work: Whether it’s a small or large company or a company in software or consumer packaged goods, human skills are critical to getting work done and successfully navigating an organization.
Today’s world of knowledge work is global, interconnected, and technology driven, which means the work you do usually requires you use a mix of technology, tools, and people to get things done. It’s hard to do something entirely by yourself, and without working with other humans.
Take an Account Executive in Sales, one job where you can directionally correlate a behavior (talking to a customer) with an outcome (a sale.)
If you talk to any seller in enterprise software, they will tell you how valuable it is to have teammates like a sales engineer, legal, deal desk rep, and customer success manager, and many deals involve multiple teams across the entire organization.
The upshot of this is that, in todays’ workplace, it means that working alongside, through, and with others to achieve your goals is critical to getting anything done.
For me though, what this underscores, is that even in a world that continues to increase its reliance on technology and innovation (Hello ChatGPT) business is still incredibly human.
So what does that mean for all of us? I think it means that if we focus on sharpening the things that we as humans uniquely do best, we’ll be in a good position to be successful and effective in our jobs.
I think this will also allow people to engage more deeply in their work, performing tasks, working on projects and working towards outcomes that align to their unique human strengths. Who doesn’t want that?
Furthermore, this also means that if we, as leaders, want our people to be successful by demonstrating these skills and behaviors, we have to more clearly enable and champion them when they are demonstrated, set up performance management systems that reward this work, and model them ourselves.
The term “soft skills” often is a catch all for what helps people get things done, get ahead, and succeed in the workplace. They are often using the implicit skills and behaviors that actually need to be made explicit. So how do we do this, and where do we start?
In Marketing 101, you are taught that you can compete essentially on two dimensions. price and differentiation. Competing on price is essentially a race to the bottom. In order to win that game, you have to scale and serve “better, faster, cheaper.” It’s a commodity game, and unless you have the scale, it’s hard to win.
Differentiation however, is exactly what it says - instead of trying to compete on price, you compete on what makes you uniquely you - your value proposition.
In today’s world of work, my argument is that there are more ways to win, when we design the workplace for humans, and humans lean into the HVP - the human value proposition, or the six elements that make us humans unique, and allow us to thrive and do our best work.
If you as an employee focus on developing and exhibiting these six capabilities and behaviors, you’ll position yourself for success:
The Human Value Proposition:
Connection - The ability to intentionally and successfully build relationships with your peers, and organization
Creativity - The ability to generate unique ideas and insights that drive solutions and solve problems
Collaboration - The ability to co-create, lead, and work through and with others to achieve a desired goal or outcome
Communication - The ability to understand your audience, and speak, write, or talk in a way that resonates with diverse groups of people
Candor - The ability to share, speak, and communicate feedback in an honest, direct, and respectful way
Care - The ability to demonstrate empathy and compassion for others you work with in a way that makes them feel acknowledged and seen
So what do we do with these human skills? Train people, train managers? Train leaders? Well, all of the above!
This really does apply to all people within an organization. For example:
Individual Employees - If you focus on these elements, you will find yourself with plenty of opportunities to contribute and make an impact in your role
People Managers - If you focus on coaching, training and mentoring your direct reports on these elements, you’ll be able to help your team achieve outcomes faster
Leaders - If you focus on skilling your organization on these skills, you’ll create a culture where humans can thrive, and people feel engaged, productive and excited about their work
Nobody wants to go to work and do a bad job, but there’s a lot of things that get in the way of being able to do a great one. And while I think many people would agree that the 6 C's are important, many of us are never taught or modeled on how to do these effectively in the modern workplace, and they are not always rewarded.
My hope is that we can change this by creating organizations around the human value proposition, and reward and model these human skills and behaviors. We'll design a workplace that sets people up for success, allows them to contribute to the world of work today, and enables them to thrive.
👀 What I’m Following👀
Podcast: Building a Human Centered Culture to Unleash The Potential of Your People - When it comes to actually A) leading the charge to build a human-first workplace and B) using technology to unlock talent development, Larry McAlister is one of the few who has done it and done it well.
Article: Why Leaders Should Embrace a Human-First Approach to Leadership
In a world of work where technology and innovation will become more pervasive, the best thing we can do as employees is lean into the skills and traits that make us uniquely human. Here’s my pitch for why we need to lead in a human-first way
Podcast: How to Support Managers so They can Lead Effectively
Redthread Research is one of my favorite places to get research on HR topics, and the latest season is all around managers. This is a good episode of what we need to do in order to build effective managers
Article: Why Financial Accounting Screws Up HR
One of my biggest gripes is that so much of management and leadership today was built for a time much different than today, and even though business & markets have changed the way we lead and manage hasn’t. Part of why this stems from the fact that the way that we measure, account and finance (understandably) drives our actions, and those things still are very much the same. If Talent/HR/People want to innovate we need to eventually rethink how we account and finance, especially when it comes to people.
Dropbox Starts a Chief People Officer in Residence Program
Succession planning, usually a talent management process reserved for more mature organizations, isn’t new, but between the lack of companies doing it right (ex: Disney) and a desire to keep great talent I saw this come up in my LinkedIn feed this week. It looks like Dropbox is modeling almost off of a “Coach in waiting” concept which some top college football & basketball teams take with associate head coaches they want to hold onto.
Thanks For Reading, and before you go - If you’re company is looking for help in developing and retaining talent, or a speaker for your conference, I’d love to work with you: Here is how I might be able to assist:
Team Trainings & Professional Development
Support Your Offsites & Meetings
Leadership & Learning Programs
Future of Work and Talent Speaking Opportunities
Feel free to contact me directly for more details!
That’s all for this week. Have a great week!
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