Real Leaders treat their people as Humans not Robots

I joined the US Army right after my high school graduation. The good thing is that I achieved the rank of Private First Class (E-3) one my first day of service. This was because I spent 3 years in JROTC. This rank gave me my jump start into holding a leadership position.

It was like baptism by fire to be put in a leadership position as a young 18 years old. The challenge was real but I was willing to accept it. Although, I ranked higher those positions I held while basic training was temporary. One mistake and you got Fired.

Truthfully, it wasn’t until I was promoted to the rank of Sargent where my leadership was truly tested.

The major difference between the Military and Civilian leaders is that in the Military I was responsible for their personal lives as well. One of the most humbling and difficult experiences I had to deal with was getting my soldiers out of jail. Lot of the times these were just minor altercations such as drunk and disorder (Just being Stupid) but sometimes it was rather disturbing.

Other times it was quite serious. I just turned 20 years old and had to tell one of my soldiers that he wasn’t allowed to live with his wife due to domestic issues. My orders was to force him to separate from his wife and live in the barracks among the rest of the soldiers.

That is lawful order while serving the military. Yes you fight for freedom but at the same time you give up your freedom while serving. You are a GI (Government Issue) and federal government owns your butt 24/7 until the last day of your contract of service.

It might be difficult for people to understand if they never served, but I am going to explain why you should care.

Why Management needs to Care for their workers?

Corporate Culture is everything these days. The average worker will hold over 12 different jobs throughout their working career Therefore creating the ideal work environment should be the number one priority.

The biggest asset in most major firms and also probably the biggest expense is the people. Invest in the people and expect a higher rate of productivity and results from your workers. If you treat people like robots and allow the bean counters to trim the workforce when times get rough can cause a high turnover among the workforce.

On boarding new hire’s to replace workers can be expensive and even more time consuming. Depending on how complex the job is, on average it can take new hire’s up to 6 months to figure out the job. Like they say about marriages, it’s cheaper to keep her.

You need them more than they need you.

Many of today’s leaders in the corporate world might be the baby boomers and generation X’ers. This generation believed in staying with a company for 30+ years and then retire with a pension. Well I’m here to tell you that those days are pretty much gone.

Right now companies are having only one benefit to keep you on the job. That is Healthcare. In the future healthcare will become more portable and no longer an anchor to keep you on the job due to medical issues. They will be portable like today’s 401k that can be transferable from job to job. What you invest you can keep.

Work Life Balance

Like I said earlier the work culture is everything. Understanding that your worker needs to have a life outside of the workplace. Projects and deadlines might require additional man hours outside of the typical normal workday. If this is the case then be sympathetic to their personal needs and what sacrifices they had to make.

That might mean flex time, additional time off, overtime pay etc etc. Let them know that you value their time and show some appreciation for what they are doing.

It is so difficult trying to juggle a career and the needs of the family. Especially if it’s dual income families in which spouses are working. Even sometimes as leader you have to give them permission or even order them to take some time off. This is all part of the human needs and some hard and dedicated workers will keep on pushing until you tell them to stop and relax.

The last thing you want is your employee to get burned out.

Treat them Like a Human Not a Robot

Automation and AI will eventually replace many human workers. But the future knowledge workers will never be replaced. The human will still play in a critical role in the work place. That is why management needs to start developing the right attitude and culture to start treating the modern worker with respect.

I believe that employees will naturally cling and feel obligated to deliver peak performance when they feel that their management is supportive of them.


Originally published at Thomas Wooldridge.