Humanising measures of success in a new world of work

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It’s time to dial up the awareness and dial down the “can’t measure it can’t manage it” story that is more about humans as outputs and less about humans as a valued part of a team, department, and organisation, writes Mark LeBusque 

“Focusing on metrics is important, but we need to humanise those numbers”

As human beings, we crave recognition of our achievements both in and outside of the workplace. Belonging occurs when there is clarity of our relevance and contribution be it at work, within our family unit or even throughout the broader community.

Within the workplace, acknowledgment of our individual successes makes us feel like we belong, have an opportunity to gain as an individual (usually in the form of a bonus or promotion) and have contributed to the success of the organisation to which we work in.

These measures are highly numbers focussed, predominantly built by others (those who we report to or higher up the organisational pecking order), related to percentages of “hit or miss” and are subject to almost weekly, monthly and quarterly scrutiny; in the form of looking back into the past and building the story of success or failure. A quarterly business review is one such mechanism to scrutinise the measures.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that these measures are not important in keeping an eye on the health of a business. What you can’t measure you can’t manage right? Isn’t that what we’ve all had drilled into us in the old system? What if there was another more human way to look at what success is? How much better could it be if we combined some traditional measures with what we’ve discovered in the last three months?

Now, think of how you measure success outside the workplace.

It’s a good time to be thinking about this as work is now happening in times of the COVID-19 challenge outside what we have come to know as the traditional workplace. As “work” moved out of offices, I’m wondering if you noticed as I did that we became more aware of key human qualities such as helpfulness, thankfulness, care and having fun. Not your traditional measures of success, however, I would argue that they have been major factors in businesses surviving through the last three months of business unusual.

All of a sudden mangers seem to be checking in more, showing some vulnerability in asking for help and being open enough to say “I don’t have the answer”, uttering the words “thank you” and allowing for a bit of good old fashioned fun in order to lift spirits in a time where they are being tested.

As “work” moved out of offices, I’m wondering if you noticed as I did that we became more aware of key human qualities such as helpfulness, thankfulness, care and having fun.

Here’s why these four qualities are important now and should in the future form of your business to be recognised as ways to bring a more human element to measuring success.

They impact our sense of belonging; although they take the form of a less formalised and rigorous approach that didn’t need a weekly, monthly or quarterly review. It’s more from the “heart” and the “gut” and less from the “head” and the feeling of achievement is just as strong (without the bonus or promotion).

What I am suggesting is that there is an opportunity to complement the work measures of success (head) with some more simple “Human Success Measures” (heart and gut) which will benefit both you and your chances of success in your organisation.

It’s time to dial up the awareness and dial down the “can’t measure it can’t manage it” story that is more about humans as outputs and less about humans as a valued part of a team, department, and organisation.

I’m 100% sure here that by simply dialing up the awareness of the very things that have helped us all to navigate through these challenging times, we have an opportunity to leverage these to create financially healthier businesses into the future.

My suggestions on Human Success Measures to include for you and your team:

  • How many times did you help someone solve a problem?
  • How many times did you ask for help from someone to solve a problem?
  • How many times did you “check-in” with someone and asked if they were OK?
  • How many times did you have fun?
  • How many times did you give thanks to someone who helped you?
  • How many times did you receive thanks from someone you helped?

Most of these you are already doing in an informal way in your outside work “self”, and all of you have been in some ways forced into this through a major shock to the old system that focussed more on outputs and less on the humans. They will have a strong correlation however, to the type of culture you choose to create in your team and wider workplace as you move into a new way of working.

As human beings, we crave recognition of our achievements both in and outside of the workplace. Belonging occurs when there is clarity of our relevance and contribution be it at work, within our family unit or even throughout the broader community.

I call it Humannovation and it’s all about #beingbeforedoing and less about a weekly KPI sheet. Awareness becomes an important factor.

What other Human Success Measures can you think of?

Be Human.

Image source: iStock