One Of The Secrets To Success In 2024 Is... Care

December 16, 2023 00:20:43
One Of The Secrets To Success In 2024 Is... Care
The Josh Bersin Company
One Of The Secrets To Success In 2024 Is... Care

Dec 16 2023 | 00:20:43

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Show Notes

As I look back on the year and think about all the challenges we face in business, I'm reminded of the simple human formula of how we care for each other. This topic, that of "care," is not something people talk about a lot at work. But in many ways it's fundamental to business success. This podcast explores that issue. Additional Information Workplace Mental Health Has Become A Strategy For Business Performance The Four-Day Work Week: An Idea Whose Time Has Come The Healthy Organization: Next Big Thing In Employee Wellbeing Corporate Citizenship Redefined: Trust, Inclusion, and Responsibility  
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Episode Transcript

[00:00:05] Today I want to talk about a slightly different topic about business and HR as we come near the end of the year, and that is about care. And the reason I bring this up is, if I think back, I've had a little bit of time to reflect as the year comes to the end of all of the things that we worry about and deal with in human resources and companies and business. And at the fundamental core of all of it, we're dealing with human relationships. I mean, I don't care if you're the CEO or a project leader, or a team leader, or an individual contributor or a call center agent. [00:00:41] Your ability to understand and listen to and relate to another human being is actually fundamental to the performance of a company. Because every project, every initiative, every deal, every client engagement involves coming to consensus about decisions we're going to have to make, collaborating and working together, and then sharing information and dealing with differences and difference of opinions end problems. And as we go through this, as individual contributors, as leaders, as HR people, we have to decide what is our relationship to the other person we're dealing with. And for some people, this is a manager, boss, supervisor, subordinate relationship. But even in those situations, if we're not able to listen to the other person and understand them, we're probably not going to have a big outcome. Success. And that comes down to this idea of care. I get a chance to visit a lot of companies. I get a chance to go to a lot of meetings. I get a chance to get involved a lot of projects virtually dozens of times every week. And the companies that are the most successful, the teams that make the most progress, the teams that are clearly outperforming, are the ones that listen to each other, that respect each other, that care for each other. And I'll talk about the human aspect of this in a minute. But that concept of caring for each other and paying attention to the feelings of the other person are not just helpful in politics and social media, where we have lots of problems in that area, but they're really important in organizations because everybody in your company, and I am willing to bet this, wants to be successful and wants to contribute to the goals. They don't always know how, they don't always have the right tools. They might have other things distracting them or holding them back. But if we care for them, if we think about them, if we pay attention to their needs, we're going to be more successful as an organization and we're going to be more successful in our roles. Now, of course, in HR, we kind of do this for a living, everything we do, when we decide who to hire and why, somebody's underperforming, and maybe we need to give somebody a performance improvement plan, or we decide who to get promoted, who not to get promoted. When we talk about teaching people things and they don't understand the right process or the right systems, all of those interactions require this empathy and this sense of care. So I think we mostly think about this a lot, and I know so many of you. I would imagine that you do. But our counterparts may not, because they're focused on the numbers or the project or the deal or their particular role in the organization. So they may not be thinking this way. So let me give you an example of something that really points this out. [00:03:40] Around November, October of 2019, before the pandemic was really discovered, maybe it was over the summer, we had a big ChrO conference at UC Berkeley in conjunction with the Haas Business School, and there were about 30 or 40 chros there. We had a couple of days, great sessions, and one of the events was a presentation by the Greater Good Science center at UC Berkeley, who I really adore on the topics of happiness, and what are the characteristics and disciplines or domains that make people happy? And there's all sorts of interesting things, flexibility, sympathy, care, awe, inspiration, et cetera, all sorts of things. I think they have ten or twelve of these psychological concepts, and I think everybody was kind of spellbound by it, because happiness. We know happiness is important in companies. It tends to correlate with good customer service and innovation and all sorts of things. So after she sat down, I was thinking about the group, and I stood up and I said, okay, now that we've all had a chance to absorb that, how many of you use these words, these ten or twelve words that have to do with psychological happiness in your mission statement, your leadership model, your company culture manifesto, et cetera. And no one raised their hand, not a single person. Well, this is before the pandemic. Now, little did we know that a couple of months later, we're all going to be locked in our houses, worried about dying, thinking about we're going to get sick from picking up our groceries. And all of a sudden, this idea of care became absolutely central to every single business interaction we had and every leadership discussion. And we then did a whole series of studies with you guys in the big reset on human centered leadership and eventually published irresistible leadership that came out in November. And we showed you that the human care part of leadership is leadership right now, because people can't get their work done if they don't feel that the organization does care about them. And now that we're in a 3.7% unemployment rate, and young people are locked in their homes remotely, not necessarily having a great old time there, wondering how they're going to get promoted and have a social life, we have to be extremely cognizant of how people feel, because they can quietly quit or leave, or just work part time, or underperform, or work their wage. There's all these memes that have come out of the millennials and Gen Z population to kind of indicate the fact that they want their organizations to care. So this idea of care really has become fundamental to organizations. And I don't care if you're thinking about tech companies, AI layoffs that may be going on in your company, et cetera, when individuals really care about others, the organization outperforms. Now, on a personal level, part of this is respecting the fact that people are different and people have issues. Everybody has their medical problems, their personal problems, their family issues, their parents, their pets, other issues, whatever they may be that are causing them grief in their own life. And we don't need to know what they all are. That's not necessarily important or appropriate to bring all that stuff to work, but we have to respect the fact that most of us can perform at 100% all day. Now, I remember very, very vividly early on in my career, certainly the first 20 or 30 years, when I would get into the car in the morning to go to work. I felt like I had to strap on my business personality, my business suit, my business attitude, and go to the office and be a business person. Maybe I didn't feel good that day. Maybe I was depressed, maybe I was. I don't know. Something was bothering me from home. I don't remember what all the issues are, but I would just put it aside and I would go to work, and I would work. And it was actually a relief because I didn't have to think about stuff that maybe was bothering me. And the work itself was gratifying and enjoyable. And so a lot of what people get out of work is a sense of satisfaction and growth and collaboration and joy from the other people they're working with, because work is one of the joys of life. And if you have a good job and a great company, you're going to enjoy your work, because you're going to be contributing to customers and peers and stakeholders, and it's going to make you feel better. But even with all of that going on and all the greatness that goes on in companies, there are going to be times when people are just upset about something, and we need to care about them and for them when that happens. And that, by the way, didn't used to exist. There was obviously health care and benefits in companies for many, many years, but only in the last 20 years did we start well being programs, psychological support, coaching, onsite psychology services, and so forth for people. So we have to sort of realize that the world we live in now, caring for our peers, is a business strength. I remember vividly when I went to Cummins Engine, I don't know, six or seven years ago, which is a very, very well run company, a very successful company located in the midwest. They're a really hardworking, engineering oriented organization. But they were some of the first companies. They were one of the first companies that I ever ran into that had on site medical care, on site health care, a lot of focus on women and leadership and diversity and inclusion and practices and principles around this. Open communication, psychological safety. I mean, they were way ahead of the curve on this for many years, but they don't brag about it like some companies do. [00:09:47] And then I went down there and I met them, and they're really hardworking, high performing people. And the reason they're so high performing is because they really do care. Now, despite the fact that we all understand this, there are some people who think differently. If you read Elon Musk's book about his organizations, I don't think they do as much of this as most organizations. They're really driven by the mission. And in the mission driven organizations, sometimes there isn't as much personal care, and they end up with higher turnover. They end up with a certain type of person at a certain point in their career where they can put their energy into work at the level of effort needed, and they may not be sustainable companies over the long run. My experience in my 45 years doing this is those companies that are mission driven but don't care about the employees don't tend to last. They flourish for a while, but something happens. It gets in their way. A competitor, a cycle change, an economic condition, a mistake, a poor product or something. And then this lack of care turns out to be a huge barrier to them turning themselves around again. A good example of this is the airlines. Most of the airlines have been through dramatic upheavals during 911, during the pandemic, virtually had to stop operations, and they had to lay people off or furlough people or drop people's salaries. And by not caring about employees, they end up with unions, they end up with high turnover, they end up with poor customer service. I won't mention the name of the airline, but the airline that I fly the most has gone through quite a turnaround. There was a period of time when they were having such a hard time financially and they were taking it out on the flight attendants that most of the flight attendants treated us like dirt. And I remember just hating that airline. And I think that was a care problem inside the company that was manifesting itself in their relationships and their ability to take care of their customers. [00:11:52] But you could be the type of person who doesn't want to talk about this and simply want to focus on the project and the mission and not bring these issues up. And that means that we as HR people have to be cognizant of that. In fact, one of the most valuable things we do in HR, in fact, it is the most highly correlated practice, is understanding, coaching, and assessing and developing leaders. Even though many of the people in HR who do this are not in themselves super high level leaders, we need to understand how to do this for others. And I think teaching people and informing them about what care means, the strengths and weaknesses and importance of caring, that doesn't mean being easy on people. That doesn't mean letting people off the hook when they mess up and not giving them feedback, but it means doing it in a respectful way and understanding what may be driving them. [00:12:50] So I think in 2024, I'm in the middle of finishing my predictions that will come out in January. I think in 2024, you're going to be dealing with a work environment where every single job in the company is going to be transformed and changed and impacted by AI. I don't think I've ever lived in a period of time during my career when this has happened so fast. Most technological cycles take years to infiltrate the bowels of businesses. This one affects everybody very quickly. And so what we're going to be doing a lot of in 2024 is not just hiring and training and leadership development and succession and performance management and all that, but we're going to be doing a lot of rethinking jobs. How do we do this work in a new way when we have this intelligent agent or this intelligent platform or this intelligent system that's able to help us do many of the drudgery work we did before? Well, as you can read about in our design research, that's called design. And design is about care because the human part of work is the part that always sits on top of the technology. So if the technology replaces the work you're doing, we suddenly have to move up a level, as I talked about in the podcast I did on expertise a couple of weeks ago. So again, if you care and you pay attention to the individuals and the capabilities of the people in these teams, it will be easier and easier and easier to deal with these changes. I've been on at least 20 calls with companies about AI, and it's funny. You look in the eyes of the people on the Zoom calls and you're discussing this technology or that technology, and you can see fear, you can see uncertainty, you can see confusion, because this technology is still new to a lot of people and they don't understand it. They're not sure if it's going to be good or bad for their particular job. And when you don't understand something, it's intimidating and scary because it could bite you. Right? Anytime a new technology comes along that you don't feel comfortable with, you kind of avoid it because you're a little worried that you're going to mess it up or it's going to impact you in a way that you didn't predict. Well, that's a caring problem, too. I think a lot of the initiatives going on around AI right now are learning about the AI and understanding how it can be applied. By the way, this goes for vendors, too. Those of you that are vendors have exactly these same issues inside your companies because you guys are all scrambling around trying to figure out how to stay ahead of your competitors. And your employees are probably a little freaked out, too, either learning or understanding or learning how to implement this technology on behalf of customers. So all of this work that's going to go on around identifying the opportunities for AI and redesigning jobs and redesigning roles is going to fall back on this idea of care. Now, one more sort of angle on this. A lot of conversations going on at the moment about the economy, and nobody can predict the economy. We've had all these pundits, these economists telling us we're going to have a recession when we never had one. We've had everybody telling us that the inflation is going to ruin the country and it's come down, that the unemployment rate is going to go up to slow the inflation, and it hasn't gone up. My perspective on the economy is it is essentially a psychological beast, and you have to kind of avoid some of the noise in the system that may come from Twitter or some other place where you're reading it. But what's been going on is really a five year, four year recovery from the pandemic. And I'm being actually serious about this, that when I think back about what we're going to be dealing with in 2024, we're going to be dealing with even more radical change in the way we work coming out of the existential changes that took place in the pandemic. The pandemic taught us about care, taught us about flexibility, taught us about remote work. It allowed us to build all sorts of interconnected technologies and video technologies. It gave birth to the idea of well being and the idea of mental health at work. It gave birth to the idea of flexibility and empathy from leadership. It gave birth to the idea of the four day work week. It gave birth to the idea of psychological safety again, even though that's been around for a long time. And it gave birth to the idea that the human issues at work are the issues. [00:17:25] I was listening to a really fantastic podcast with Pat Gelsinger yesterday, who's the CEO of Intel, and they're going through a pretty major turnaround at Intel. I know a lot of people that used to work at Intel. Intel is a very hardworking, hard driving company that lost their way technologically in the manufacturing part of semiconductors, and they're finding their way back. And I know people that work there, and I know people that have worked there. What's been going on at intel is a rebirth and a reinvention of the culture of getting back to their roots. And in order for people to respond to the level of innovation that they're embracing, they have to care about each other, and they have to care about the company, and they have to care about the technology. And I think intel is one of these companies that's going to be around for a long, long, long time. There are many companies, Cisco, Intel, IBM, Microsoft, that have been around for many decades. I don't mean one or two decades, I mean five decades, four decades, ten decades. And what you find is, through their ups and downs, is the reason they've been able to reinvent themselves during the different times that they have. Is somebody in there really does care. Jensen Wong, who runs Nvidia, I don't know him personally, but I've listened to a lot of his podcasts. If you listen to him talk about the company Nvidia, he had a lot of problems. They've had a lot of challenges. They almost ran out of business many times. He fundamentally believes in the power of the individuals in his company. He cares about them. You can just hear it in his voice. So this idea of care is a top level, c level issue, too. And again, I'm not saying we have to completely accommodate every difficult situation everybody has. But to be honest, the more we can do that in the context of what the business is trying to achieve, the greater performance we will end up with in the long run. Because, as I said, people, under the best of conditions, grow and expand their potential in enormous ways. So I'm going to give you probably one or two more podcasts before the end of the year, but I wanted to leave you with this one to just sort of sit on it for a couple of days and see how it applies in your daily work and make sure you're applying the right levels of care and understanding to your team, to your family, to your boss. By the way, our bosses, our superiors, they need care, too. I mean, they've got difficult roles as well. And bring that into your dialogue over the holidays a little bit while we're all having a little more time with our families. And I think you'll find out that it's been a good thing for everybody, for you, for your organization, for everybody around you. Okay, have a great weekend, everybody. Talk to you next weekend.

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