Why Your Organization Must Be Human-Centric

BY C. Lee Smith
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Is 60% of your workforce disengaged? That’s the reality for many corporate leaders today. And, you might be part of the problem. Too many managers allow process and structure to dictate their day-​to-​day operations. They’re trapped in old-​school organizations while our economy is speeding into the future.

To change, you need to move toward a human-​centric organization. Deb Westphal, CEO of Toffler Associates, futurist and executive advisor, shared her research on the changes facing leaders during her recent appearance on our Manage Smarter podcast. She also discussed how trend-​setting leaders are reinventing companies.

Today’s leading organizations, those with engaged workforces, have tapped into new styles of organizational design. First, companies are supporting employees who take on functions that were previously carried about by government agencies or groups of consumers who believed passionately about a topic and wanted change. Westphal showcases the recent action by Google employees who demanded that the company stop taking contracts from the U.S. Department of Defense. This type of initiative, coming from the bottom of an organization, shows leaders respect and listen to their employees. 

Winning companies are also openly acknowledging that the speed of commerce and social change is increasing. Previously, large generational shifts in social norms and business changes took up to 20 years. Generational changes are now taking place in the seven to ten-​year time frame. Business leaders who accept and lead these kinds of changes will be rewarded by employee loyalty.

Because technology is now driving the development of more capable machines, organizations must embrace complex collaboration. Westphal maintains that great leaders train their employees to use and collaborate with machines.

This strategy includes convincing employees to keep up with new concepts like machine learning. This approach may seem paradoxical when we’re encouraging an emphasis on human-​centric organizations. It's not. It's simply acknowledging change and helping employees find their roles in the ever-​evolving company.

Futuristic leaders are also encouraging their team members to participate in value creation. It’s not enough to complete the tasks written in the job description. When team members understand they can play a role in increasing an organization’s value, they’ll also become more engaged.

To successfully lead your team through periods of organizational turmoil, remember that soft skills matter. Team members won’t be willing to put their opinions, and potentially their jobs, on the line if they don’t trust you. Younger workers, in particular, are comfortable with and excited about technology. They’re anxious to engage with ideas to explore the value they can add to a business.

The big question is whether you, as a manager, are ready to listen to and champion these ideas. If you fail to become human-​centric as your company faces the future, you may not have a future at all.