Last year was a year that shined a light on prominent and important topics, from Starbucks closing its stores to conduct bias training to wide-spread #MeToo scandals across industries rocking the airwaves.
Despite the billions of dollars companies spend on professional development training, it seems that these issues keep reappearing with no end in sight. Don't you think it's time to ask ourselves why?
What's going on today is that companies fail to remember that behind the professional is a person who is on a lifetime journey of personal development.
To change the status quo in management and our business culture, let's begin with a simple question. Do you believe that humans are:
A. A resource
C. Talented individuals with soul-craving purposes
D. People who irritate the heck out of you
What did you answer?
If you answered C, you're on the right track to becoming an awakened leader. If not, let's see if we can work on understanding why you view people the way you do and discuss how to create human-centered business strategies that focus on personal development.
Our callous view of people in the workplace is a result of how industrialized nations view humans: as a unit of production. But as managers, leaders, or aspiring leaders, it's time that we put the "human" back into human resources and into our values as American business leaders. Some simple ways to put the human back into HR programs today include covering workers who are enduring cancer treatment and making mental health something that is talked about in every management training because a healthy brain gets us the results we seek in business.
We are at odds with human-centered business practices because the core belief system of most employers is focused largely on shareholder value, revenue generation and minimizing risk to control costs. Somewhere in the mix are humans that we have to "deal with." We view incentivizing them as a burden, and we have to "get rid of them" once they reach a certain age before they cost us too much in health care benefits. Ever hear a person in a so-called "leadership" role speak this way about employees?
Friend, no amount of professional development training can solve these workplace issues. Personal development is the driver of change. To change our views requires bravery, curiosity, and creating a safe space needed to grow. While businesses talk the talk, many of them don't walk the walk.
Diving even deeper into the "human" aspect of human resources, we have a workforce of humans who have endured psychospiritual injuries that academics can't quantify. Simply put, a significant number of people have endured trauma at one point in life, be it a car accident, abuse or abandonment, childhood bullying, health issues, severance packages, deaths of parents, hidden addictions, etc. Behind the business persona of every professional is a person in need of development.
Unfortunately, most personal development programs are handled by a company's employee assistance program, aka a hotline for an employee to call where they can get paired up with a counselor. By choosing to avoid personal development in the workplace, we send our talent in blind to counselors who may or may not be strong enough or spiritually inclined enough to accelerate someone's breakthrough and shift their thought pattern to become an awakened leader.
As a leadership coach, I can tell you that while professional development programs like sales training are great, they don't provide the tools or the psychoeducation needed to support our people on a personal level. We celebrate successes in business outwardly, yet we never celebrate the hidden personal accomplishments of a co-worker earning a 10-year sobriety coin or a depressed co-worker taking that first step into counseling.
Personal development is the key to unlocking the true greatness in every single one of our businesses today. Invest in your talent. Talk about mental health. Make work fun. Promote the right people. Become the leader your community needs. Leadership begins with who we are behind closed doors.