I want to share some thoughts with you today about the power of bringing humanity back into human resources. I'm sure many of you can relate to that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know an unfun conversation needs to happen, but you also understand that it's your responsibility as an HR professional to address it. It's not always easy, but it's necessary.
Today, I want to talk about a book that has had a significant impact on me personally and professionally. The book is called "Steel Backbone, Soft Heart," and it explores the idea of balancing the human side of HR with the business objectives of an organization. The author, whom I recently had the opportunity to interview, shared their motivations for writing the book and their journey towards recognizing the importance of humanity in the workplace.
In 2021, there was a lot going on in the world, and many of us had our own awakenings. I had a similar experience within my own organization, realizing that the more humanistic I could be, the more effective I would be in my role. This realization challenged the traditional school of thought I was educated in, where the focus was often on hard skills rather than softer skills.
One of the key takeaways from my conversation with the author was the importance of leaders who inspire and foster a sense of loyalty among their teams. These are the leaders who truly make a difference because they are not only smart and talented but also genuinely amazing humans. They have a positive impact on those around them and create an environment where people feel valued and supported.
However, it's not always easy to shift the perception of leadership capabilities that are considered "soft." During our conversation, I asked the author how they dealt with pushback from their team or leaders who dismissed these approaches as HR nonsense. They emphasized the importance of leading by example, demonstrating the value of these human-centric practices through tangible outcomes and success stories. It's about showing the positive impact that a focus on humanity can have on employee engagement, retention, and overall organizational performance.
We also discussed the idea of applying customer experience principles to employee experience. Just as we focus on understanding and meeting the needs of our customers, we should do the same for our employees. By creating a culture of empathy, listening, and genuine care, we can foster a sense of loyalty and engagement among our workforce. This approach requires a shift in mindset and the recognition that employees are just as important as customers when it comes to driving organizational success.
Of course, there are challenges along the way. As HR professionals, we need to find a balance between the soft heart and the steel backbone. We have to address business objectives and meet deadlines while also caring for the well-being of our employees. It's not an easy task, but it's crucial for long-term success.
I've learned that building strong relationships with individuals on your team and truly understanding who they are as people can make a significant difference. By recognizing their goals, strengths, and challenges, we can provide the support they need to thrive both personally and professionally. It's about creating an environment where employees feel safe to bring their whole selves to work, knowing that they will be supported and valued.
Additionally, embracing open and honest feedback, given with candor and kindness, is essential. Feedback is a gift, and when someone cares enough to share their perspective, it demonstrates their investment in your growth and success. It takes courage to be vulnerable, to ask questions, and to listen to the answers even when they might be uncomfortable. But by doing so, we can foster an environment of trust and continuous improvement.
In the end, loyalty and retention are the results of a culture that values and supports its employees. By cultivating empathy, encouraging open communication, and providing opportunities for growth.
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