People First?

March 19, 2022

Putting people first is a wise move for leaders. It affords many benefits in the present and pays significant dividends in the future. It’s just smart. We all know investing in “human resources” is a good thing. This sage advice of putting people first may be challenging at times and is not always easy to execute. In time if you persist positive changes will become apparent; and voila’ you soon begin to see results. We must understand and accept that time & effort invested now, will reap  unimagined rewards later.  At times, the choices we must make do not always seem so clear. The important thing is: Remember your true goal and true purpose – always.

Doing the best at this moment, puts you in the best place for the next moment.” — Oprah Winfrey

Putting people first starts with you – the Leader. Connecting with team members using a sincere communication style is key. Perhaps it’s been a while since you’ve sharpened those skills. If you truly want to see change, now is the time to do it.  Assessing your communication skills and assessing your communication style is the first step in beginning this incredible journey and transformative process. The exciting part about using this method is that it will impact not only your work life, but your personal relationships as well. And that is big!

Leaders also need to take the initiative in facilitating, creating, and maintaining the space for the potential of high-level, effective interactions to flow. It’s like growing a garden. You need to choose the right plants, put them in the kind of soil they need. Provide plenty of space, air, water, and sun and they will grow! And yes, it’s necessary to regularly cull and weed the garden too. And we all know what that means.

This innovative concept and process applies to those team members who will choose to cooperate with it. Have realistic expectations. Not everyone is able to open up for many compelling reasons – reasons even unknown to some.

So, if you’re interested in giving it a try start with this sage advice from a retired Navy Admiral. “Either say nothing or say the right thing.”

I’ve personally found this statement to be profoundly effective in personal, as well as in business interactions. An extra bonus to doing this is that it increases a person’s own personal growth and character development. You simply can’t do the right thing in relationships and not reap the positive benefit it affords.

Here are some issues which can either hamper or accelerate this process — You choose:

People are not plants to be managed. Be authentic in your approach. If you are not coming from the right place – the team will know it.

Put people first by truly be interested in getting to know them. Actively listen to what they are saying. On the routine days take time to check in on people. Put them first and ask how they are doing. On the busy days, ask “what is more important, this issue or the person? Is it the spreadsheet, the PowerPoint slide presentation, the “big” project, the pressing deadline or is it the needs of one of your team members?  Decide and then act accordingly. This decision will become automatic in time and require much less thought and attention.

 Put away your distractions – be purposeful in your approach. Ask yourself “What is getting in the way of putting people first? Is it technology or something else?

A recent study says the average American will spend the equivalent of 44 days on their cell phone in 2022.  44 days of checking their phone, on calls, playing games, etc.  What can really be that important?  Why could it be so important?

Can my cell phone live without me for the next hour while I have a solid “heart to heart” with someone on the team?  You know — all these things today that “seem’ to be important but can easily be put on hold or simply dealt with later. Are you allowing your cell phone, email in box,  or computer tasks to command your attention before the team members – the real reason you’re there?

Is your goal of finishing dealing with all texts & e-mails before leaving the office more important than the people present with a legitimate & pressing need? This needs to change if you want to totally upgrade the connections and communications among your team members.  In a business perspective, Stephen Covey sums it up best:

“Putting first things first means organizing and executing around your most important priorities. It is living and being driven by the principles you value most, not by the agendas and forces surrounding you.”  — Stephen Covey

People are people first.  Not employees, not associates, not workers, – people. All of us want to be appreciated and recognized for our efforts and results.  We simply want to be acknowledged for who we are.  The reality is that none of us are perfect.  Mistakes happen even to the best “performers.”   Personal problems happen and we never know what people are struggling with from one day to the next. We all need a break and to be given a little grace at times.  Knowing and modeling healthy personal boundaries also comes into play here. If you need a tune-up in this area, by all means get one. 

The bottom line is these methods will work if leaders choose to take a leap of faith and take the time to put these ideas in motion. If you are willing, keep your efforts going until you get some traction and then momentum. Believe me, customers and clients will notice. Even small changes are a step in the right direction for all people who are part of the organization. Progress not perfection is the rule to follow here.  Put people first and everything else will simply “fall into place”.   

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