Connecting To Humans At Work

Paul Hebert Coaching, Communication, Employee Coaching, Employee Communications, Employee Engagement, Engagement and Satisfaction, Paul Hebert, Pop Culture

I’ve been on a tear for the last couple of years to get companies – no, reset – not companies – PEOPLE (companies are NOT people) to approach their business in a more human way. Too much of the recent focus of business has been on software, and making the engagement effort at most companies a function of survey responses, big data, clicks and Facebook-like “likes.” In other words, focusing on everything but the thing that will really have any kind of effect on lasting engagement within a company. That thing being – “being human.”

And – I kid you not – I get questions on “how” do you be human at work?

At first I was taken aback when asked… but then I figured out that so much of our college education, so much of the BS from us bloggers and other “gurus” has focused on and continues to focus on how to use technology to make the business run more efficiently. FTR: Efficiency is the enemy of being human. You cannot be human if you are focused on being efficient and removing variability in the employee/company relationship.

Let me say that again louder: You cannot be human if you are focused on being efficient and removing variability in the employee/company relationship.

How You Can Be Human – The Sound Of Music

Looking for a way to be human? Try the Kenny Chesney Reflection (KCR).

What is the Kenny Chesney Reflection? It is what I call the conversation you have with someone about the songs that have punctuated parts of that person’s life and also, those things in a person’s career that had huge positive impact.

I came up with the KCR when I first heard the song “I Go Back” by Kenny Chesney in 2004. The lyrics of the song were so close to my own life it was scary. He references the song “Jack & Diane” by John Mellancamp (a song my now wife and I listened to more times than I can say in my 1977 Pontiac Lemans). He talked about losing a friend in high school (which happened to me as well) and also talked about all the other stuff that goes on in your life – and the songs that, as he says…

Every time I hear that song

I go back, I go back

We all have a song that somehow stamped our lives

Takes us to another place and time

And that music… that song…will actually bring you back in a way that simply talking about it won’t.

I then read an article on USA Today this past weekend called: “Dad Rock: What 8 songs tell your life story?” The gist of that post was similar to what Mr. Chesney was saying… that music can be a really interesting way to summarize and remember points in time.

Emotionally and viscerally.

And human-ly.

To Be Human…

Ask your employees two questions…

  1. First: What is their KCR – what songs punctuate their lives? Ask your employees what 8 or 10 songs they would pick if they had to put together a soundtrack of their life? Not just the last few years – but their entire life.
  2. Then ask – in a similar vein: What are the five things that punctuate their career? When where they happiest? What was the most devastating? When were they proudest? What were the 5 things they think defined their career?

You will be surprised by the answers. You will be connected by the answers. You will be human participating in this process. You can’t avoid it.

Then share yours with them.

You are now emotionally invested and have a HUGE understanding of what each of you values, is afraid of, is connected to and a part of.

Try it with a friend first and then try it with your employees. You will love the outcome.

My KCR List?

Thought you’d never ask. I’ll list them, but I leave it to you to divine why they had impact… (FYI – not always in the year they were released – but when they actually hit home with me.)

Theme from the Batman TV show in the 60s

Eve of Destruction” – Barry McGuire

Slow Ride” – Foghat

Free Bird” – Lynyrd Synyrd

Michael Stanley Band – “Midwest Midnight

Angels Wanna Wear My Read Shoes” – Elvis Costello

Sleeping with the Television On” – Billy Joel

Til I Hear it From You” – Gin Blossoms

Inside Out” – Eve 6

You Can’t Be Too Strong” – Graham Parker

And Bonus: “Keep Me In Your Heart” – Warren Zevon

And so many, many others: New Radicals, Blessid Union of Souls, Joseph Arthur, Boomtown Rats, The Cars, Counting Crows, Van Morrison, Crash Test Dummies – but I wanted to leave it at 11.

I’m guessing now that you’ve seen my list, you have a much different understanding of me (better? worse? Doesn’t matter.)

What about you? What is your life’s soundtrack?

What is your career hit list?

Do you know your team’s stories, songs and punctuation points?

You should if you’re human.