Humanizing the Workplace: A Spiritual Space

Sharing coffee with a a colleague the other day was like the sun warming me as I took my morning walk with Cody. It felt good inside.

We both relished the idea of connecting with colleagues and friends again and realized that one could not force these changes in the workplace, and that they will happen through real-time meetups. He sees his team returning to their hybrid workplace on a “we’ll see how it works out basis” Yet, he sees a kind of “return to the mean” phenomenon where folks are beginning to show up of their own volition and are enjoying time with colleagues.

Managers are in a tough place. The emphasis on humanizing the workplace includes demonstrating empathy, understanding, racial and gender justice (aka DE&I), time and location flexibility, and, oh yeah, running the business. Many of them desire to do all these tasks, and they also tell me that they are not sure how to do them successfully.

And that is for a good reason. They don’t.

There are some easy remedies that many of us can put in place as steppingstones to get across the stream while working on building a more permanent set of skills. Consider some of these.:

  • Listening: Listening is a lot easier if one does not assume that they must provide an answer. Your team members are intelligent, capable people and the magic of listening is that it allows people to share their thoughts and the experience of being listened to and understood. From there, a solution usually is forthcoming. Our job is to shut up and genuinely be attentive to what is said.
  • Self-Disclosure: Letting people know about the challenges, struggles, and concerns we all share humanizes the workplace. It is not about complaining and acknowledging that we all have good days and bad days, good meetings and bad meetings. Sharing common frustrations without whining is helpful for everyone.
  • Winning Behaviors: An aligned workplace culture demonstrates effective behaviors. Managers can do this by role modeling healthy and effective behaviors ranging from supporting resilient actions to conducting effective meetings. Manager behavior is a key to changing how people work and live, and demonstrating best practices helps everyone.

We are in a kind of sacred time in the workplace. We know past models won’t work, and we don’t exactly know what the future will look like down the road. Being intentional about how we approach this change creates the difference between success and failure and, more importantly, how we live our lives.

©Richard Citrin, 2022

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