Over the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing H.U.M.A.N. Strategies™, my dynamic approach to personal and professional leadership, communication, and effective decision-making skills. This framework is the foundation of my work as a speaker, facilitator and Coach. My goal with H.U.M.A.N. Strategies is to put some much-needed humanity back into organizations.
So far, I’ve detailed the first three principles:
Today, I’m digging into the fourth: Attract desired results.
Attract Desired Results
In my first post in this series, I made a case for why we can only truly honor people when we understand their perspectives. And last week, I explained that when we fail to manage our reactions — and respond reactively to a situation — we fail to understand perspectives and honor the person. That’s where the dysfunction begins, both professional and personal.
But when we’re able to manage our reactions by understanding perspectives, thereby honoring the person, we open the door to the next important piece of the H.U.M.A.N. Strategies framework: attracting desired results.
We need to pay more attention to attracting mutually desirable outcomes.
Everyone, in their desire to contribute, wants to believe what they’re doing with their life matters. I’ve never met a person who wants to come home from work — whatever that job is — thinking that they’re worthless, that their work doesn’t matter, that there’s nothing important to it, and that nobody cares about it.
Even people who have jobs that some of us would never aspire to, like police officers or sanitation workers, have a reason and a purpose behind what they do.
Why are we doing what we’re doing? Why are we choosing this path or this outcome versus that one down the road? We want to understand, not so that we can say, “hey boss, you’re wrong.” But so that we can understand.
Attracting desired results comes back around to understanding perspectives. As a leader, I need to understand the perspectives of my employees and the people I’m leading and how my organization connects to that perspective — their needs, their why, their motivations.
When I work with people as a coach, most people who come to me because they hate their current job and are looking for an alternative end up staying in their current job, not because anything about the job has changed but because everything about their understanding of the job has changed.
When they’re able to see an alignment between the goals, vision, and whys of the agency they work for and the goals, vision, and whys of their life — who they want to be in the world and how they want to contribute — all of a sudden, what feels negative can become positive. That’s how people that do tough jobs enjoy it: they see the value in it.
There’s a story I read recently about a journalist who was interviewing people who work in the custodial services of a hospital. The job isn’t glamorous. They change sheets, clean up, and handle the messes most of us wouldn’t care to handle. But it turns out that the people who love that job love it with all their heart because they don’t see the job as merely cleaning up.
One particular woman’s story really touched me. She asked the interviewer, “When you sit in this room, what do you see? I notice where your eyes go when you’re not looking at me. When I’m in a hospital room and I’m cleaning, I notice where patients look. And that’s where I’ll clean the most. It’s where I’ll put something like a flower or a cup because that’s where their eyes go. I’ll clean ceilings, not because they’re terribly dirty but because that’s what the patients are looking at.
“I have been in this job for years. And sometimes, I’m the only person this patient has to talk to. The nurses don’t have time. The doctors don’t have time. The patients don’t have family to visit them. I love this job. I get to create an environment for people who feel like no one cares about them.”
Another story that illustrates the importance of understanding the why and attracting desired results comes from Japan in the 1980s. It was the heyday of the kaizen business model in Japan and, eventually, Six Sigma here in the U.S.
At the time, Japan was envied and admired for its great manufacturing production and efficiency in running factories. A group of CEOs from leading American car manufacturing companies traveled to Japan to tour the factories there and learn how to improve processes at home in the U.S.
As the story goes, one executive was talking to a janitor who said he had the most important job in the factory.
The executive asked, “Why do you have the most important job in the factory?”
And the janitor replied, “Look around and what do you see?”
The executive said, “I see cars being made.”
“What else,” asked the janitor.
“I see people.”
“I’ll tell you what I see,” said the janitor. “I see machines and computers. Do you know what the known enemy of machines and computers is? Dirt. If I stopped doing my job for a week, I could shut this whole plant down.”
We tend not to see the value of people. When we talk about attracting desired results, we’re really asking who we are as people, what we’re trying to achieve, and why.
When people can see themselves in that why, in contributing to a certain outcome, they’re all in.
Because now it’s not just doing this job for a paycheck but because it fulfills part of my purpose in life. It’s the custodial services worker in the hospital who finds meaning in connecting with people and bringing joy to their lives.
If we don’t allow for that or understand that, what do people buy into and connect with? Where does it become something more than just a paycheck?
In some ways, attracting desired results is the inverse of honoring people. It’s the way people can honor the objectives of the organization because they can find a place in which they can connect with purpose and meaning.
Where this all falls apart is in the last piece of the H.U.M.A.N. Strategies puzzle: negotiating solutions. Stay tuned for more on that in my next blog post.