The Human Centered Approach to Doing Business
I joined Hummingbird Humanity this month as the new Chief Consulting Officer after spending over a decade building social impact, employee engagement, and DEI programs at companies across multiple industries. I have spent the large majority of my career working in corporate spaces and watched the evolution from “leave your personal baggage at the door” to “bring your whole self to work” and, more recently, “bring your work self to home.” Facing social and health pandemics, we saw companies rally around their employees, investing in programs and technology to keep people connected and engaged. It was probably the most dramatic shift in how we think about the relationships between home and work because it had to be.
We continue to see that pendulum swing as we try to reconcile the last two and a half years with the future of work. How do we move forward from the trauma of the social injustices and health pandemics and bring more empathy, vulnerability, and humanity into how we work and engage with each other?
I have spent quite a bit thinking about what it means to me personally. What are my personal values? What is important to me in a new role? How do my values align with the values of my workplace? How do I reconcile all of that with my role as a mother, wife, and provider for my family? What am I willing to compromise on, and where am I resolute? These questions led me to be part of the “Great Reshuffle,” my favorite of the “Greats” that are going around (Great -Resignation, -Retirement, etc.). These questions brought me to Hummingbird. I knew I wanted to be a part of an organization that felt more human and valued me, not just the skills and gifts I brought to the table. I’m grateful to have found this and more with Brian and the team.
Before joining Hummingbird, I did a lot of networking. I recently met with a business leader about the challenges he faced trying to grow and scale his organization and incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion, and other culture initiatives. He told me that they are in the early stages of setting up operations. Their priorities are hiring and onboarding people and building the policies and processes necessary for growth. He was having trouble justifying what he loosely called “ornamental” programs when they were trying to get the basics right.
It got me thinking about building organizations; what is foundational vs. additive? The leader that I met with was focused on strategy and operations. It was a formulaic approach: strategy + execution = profitability.
What if we found a way to be anchored in our mission, vision, values, and the employee value proposition as Brian describes, and change the equation: purpose + passion = profits?
Yes, strategy and execution are crucial, but I would argue that what we do is not as significant as the why, how, who, and where behind it. Why are we developing a strategy, and how is it connected to the passions of those who are executing it? Culture lives beyond what.
Culture requires intentionality and the ability to take the human experience into account. Consider the following:
- Who are the humans behind the plan? Who are you serving (ex: customers, partners, community?) What do they value? What are they passionate about? How is that showing up for them at work?
- How are you engaging the plan or strategy? These are the said (and sometimes unsaid) rules of engagement.
- Where is the environment(s) in which you are working? Are you located in an office or working remotely from home? Or in a hybrid environment? Are you working across teams, offices, or time zones?
- Why are you doing it? What problem are you solving? Is it connected to a greater good or purpose?
Each of these questions challenges us to go a little deeper. What will get people in the door, but the other four (who, how, where, and why), when rooted in an organization’s mission, vision, and values (MVV), will keep people connected and engaged. This is where culture lives.
Times of uncertainty are the ultimate stress test for culture. This is where the window dressing starts to fall, and the real character of an organization shines through. I have seen companies rise to the occasion because they built a strong foundation from the ground up. I have also seen companies flail because values were just hung up on walls and not woven into the ethos. We have to be just as intentional about building culture as we are about building the strategy and operations of our businesses.
My personal mission is to leave places better than I found them and have a lasting impact. I am excited to join Hummingbird Humanity and help create workplaces where human centered cultures are the standard and people, passion, and purpose are at the core of how we engage with each other, clients, and our community.
Chief Consulting Officer
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Andrea Forsht is joining Hummingbird Humanity with over 15 years of experience building and scaling social impact and employee experience programs for a variety of organizations and industries. She has built a reputation for forging strong relationships between people and groups and showing them how to relate to and rely on each other for better outcomes.
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