Jun 15, 2023

What is human-centered management?

With waves of people fighting against the 9 to 5 grind, demanding remote work and investment in their growth, businesses on average need a dramatic change if they want to survive. Today, data also proves that human-centered management (businesses that treat their employees with respect and appreciation) generates improved results. So, why are many businesses still lagging behind? 

How human-centered management drives results

Initially, it seems obvious to put employees at the center of decisions. After all, customers are just as human as employees and they have similar needs. In reality, human-centered management goes much deeper.

Overall, human-centered management is when an organization leverages employees’ needs and intrinsic motivations to generate results and profits, rather than the other way around. In other words, human-centric leaders create invigorating experiences. Those human moments then enable employees to truly see how their values connect to those of the business. As a result, they are empowered to make decisions.

Moreover, team members operate in psychological safety so they feel free to innovate and learn from mistakes. In short, the business provides them with a purpose that they in turn believe in deeply. 

Although this is not just about finding meaning within a business context, it’s also about creating an organization that empowers employees across their lives. As this Entrepreneur’s article on ways of getting out of the 9 to 5 suggests, there are many options for incorporating work and personal lives. 

Whereas traditionally, priority business metrics were revenue, profits and outputs. These days, a human focus emphasizes metrics such as engagement, innovation, customer experience and loyalty. 

Such human metrics don’t come from numbers, they come from emotional intelligence and presence. Nevertheless, soft skills are easily destroyed by excessively bureaucratic processes and an over-reliance on numbers. The aim instead is to get the right balance by putting people’s needs first. 

This Forbes article on Fixing Bureaucracy takes this a step further by describing examples of large corporations that empower employees by leveraging small working groups. Not only does this keep the business competitive because employees are empowered and engaged but it also stops them from going bankrupt. 

In summary, businesses with human-centered management can:

  • Generate higher revenue with increased resilience: Employees who feel heard and valued know that they have the support network to make intelligent mistakes for innovation and personal growth.
  • Deliver products more quickly with better customer connectivity: Empowered teams get things done because decisions are happening at the front line. Moreover, customers appreciate the personal touch. 
  • Exceed their goals with greater engagement: Passionate team members operate as if they own the business and they trust each other to make wise decisions.

Creating a human-centered management culture

Influential American business thinker, Gary Hamel, refers to the Human Movement. To him, it isn’t just about creating human-centered management, it’s about enabling every human to fulfill their potential. Hamel believes that we can all come together as a community to support each and every one of us to live to our strengths.

So, where do we start? Within an organization, both leaders and human resources need to collaborate. As Gary Hamel details in an interview on HR’s Call to Action, HR has the potential to be the catalyst to kickstart every employee thinking like a leader through coaching and training. In a sense, you could call it crowdsourcing management. 

Moreover, leaders must let go of the mindset that they are the prime decision-maker. Instead, they need to enable systemic thinking and co-creative problem-solving. 

Leaders will also need to shift their language from I to Us and from “either/or options” to “and” solutions. A language coach is well-placed to guide leaders to move away from all-or-nothing to using more inclusive language that incorporates multiple viewpoints. 

Most of us can appreciate that technology has a role in reducing empathy that comes from human-to-human interaction. Since the pandemic, mental health has become a focus for employers and employees and people desire to belong to a community more than ever before. Bringing these two points together within organizations won’t just help people feel more content. It will create a better future for the next generations.

Create work environments that boost employee experience so they can propel businesses forward

How do businesses learn empathy such that they can view business decisions through the people lens? One of the most powerful and long-lasting approaches is to work with a leadership coach. This can be through individual coaching or group coaching alongside investigating other key points as listed below. And don’t miss our previous blog on what to expect in group coaching.

  • Reward people priorities: Many organizations still prioritize revenue metrics over engagement ones. The question now is how to flip that round so that employee engagement drives profit.
  • Coach the leadership team: A coach enables people to become aware of how they embody people values. Moreover, they’ll discover how leadership styles fit with a people approach, or not, depending on the situation.
  • Review the system: Processes can quickly encourage unhealthy behaviors. So, for instance, how does the hiring process support bringing on people with the same values? Moreover, how are different viewpoints from across the organization, and from all levels, encouraged?

Propel your business forward with human-centered management

The world is shifting and people are no longer content with the 9 to 5 model or even a job for life, but the world still needs businesses. If you want to stay ahead of the competition with engaged teams and superior results, human-centered management is critical. 

By coaching your teams and examining your processes, you too can create an organization that focuses on people first. In short, by answering your employees’ and customers’ needs, the numbers will follow. 

Ultimately, it’s about observing people, whether they are within your business or not, and leveraging that knowledge to create something that goes beyond all expectations. Your business will then do more than just survive these turbulent times. It will thrive. 


Career, Coaching, Company Culture, Leadership, People

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