How to “Humanize Your Workplace™”

I am often asked about my mantra, “Humanize your Workplace.” I’ve talked about with many managers and in articles before wanted to elaborate on it. And what better place than in a blog?

First, we’re all “human beings,” right? Yes and no.

Sometimes humans in the workplace get so focused on doing the work that we forget about “being” human. We lose sight of the basic, in-born instincts that are behind our own daily business interactions – and that of others.

Humanizing the workplace is something that everyone – executives, managers, and employees – can undertake to create together a better work environment. (It always translates into a more profitable business as well.)

A humanized workplace:

• Puts greater emphasis on keen sensitivity to the human spirit

• Fosters collaboration towards common goals

• Avoids robot-like, icy behaviors that can cause alienation

• Uses “real” words that are driven from the heart, not “corporate babblespeak” (which are borne out of safety insecurity or worse, mimicking!)

• Encourages time for good, old-fashioned etiquette – “please,” “thank you,” (just like your mother told you to!)

• Acknowledges consistently the positive contributions of co-workers (tell ‘em what they did right!)

• Dares to put an occasional “:)” or “!” in an e-mail or text

• Poses requests as questions, not demands

• Places value on the power of humor, what I call “the great diffuser” of tension

• Puts emphasis on infusing joy and laughter into the workplace — making work more fun, inspiring people to collaborate and stick around, and fostering more creativity! (Surprised?)

It’s easy to be unaware of what it’s like to be in the other person’s shoes. Whether they are moonboots, Tevas, or pumps – we’ve got to step in and take a look around!

A good litmus test is to examine whether you are humanizing your own workplace, meaning your own world of work. Try this little test. Ask yourself how big of a dichotomy there is between the “weekend you” and the “office you.” Surely there should be some delta there.

But if you are a complete riot on Saturday nights – and a stone-faced crash dummy Monday through Friday – then you’re robbing yourself and others of your warmth and true personality. (Now, please don’t insist on wearing a Halloween mask or bringing your pet canary to work everyday!)

No one decreed work to be a place of pain and torture, even in this economy. Humanizing your workplace is guaranteed to bring more joy to the office and to increase productivity. You will feel healthier and live a much richer life.

So next time you have the chance, ask your boss about her weekend. Stop by Ned’s office in accounting after the Monday e-mail. Celebrate humanity. Humanize your workplace.