Creating Humanistic Workplace Cultures with Jerry Wagner

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jerry Wagner on the topic of Creating Humanistic Workplace Cultures on behalf of the International Humanistic Management Network.

Link to the resources mentioned in the talk:

Evidence Based Practices Reduce Uncertainty

I recently came across a group I really love that is all about evidence based practice in business.  

They are called - Center for Evidence Based Management: Professor Rob Briner, who is Professor of Organizational Psychology at Queen Mary University of London, had a presentation on it and here is one of the slides. 

The reason to take an evidence based approach isn't because it will guarantee success, only that it will reduce uncertainty and make us more likely to succeed. YES!!!!!

I say this in my course - Planning for Success. You can't control every variable. All you can do is increase the odds in your favor or against you. And there are ways to increase the odds of success. The main way - is to take a science based approach!

This touches on VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity).  By taking a science based approach, you can reduce uncertainty and ambiguity and also lessen complexity through scientific understanding.  That leaves - volatility, which can be handled philosophically by accepting you can't control everything.

I don't know about you, but I would much rather deal with one problem then four.  Taking a science based approach really does increase your chances of success.

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Giving 80%

Work Life Balance - defining what you want.

I am in my 50s now. I own my own business. It isn't as successful as it could be, but it's growing and I feel good about my work and where I am in life.

Could I do more? Of course. But do I want to? No. People laugh when I tell them that I am really quite lazy.  They don't believe me because I seem to get so much done.

I think maybe one of the reasons I am so efficient is because - I REALLY guard my free time.  Efficiency helps with this.

The reality is - I could be doing more. A lot more. But I don't.  And I recently found someone who articulated why I don't better than I ever have.

Nakamura, one of the people on a Japanese reality tv show called Terrace House.  He is older. He is a professional snow boarder. He also works as a yakitori chef and owns his own clothing line.

In in Terrace House New Beginnings on Netflix.  Episode 5 Ami, a 20 year old in her third year of college doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. She can't bring herself to apply for jobs. Neither in her chosen career, or as a model, which she says she wants to do. She doesn't really want to commit to a career path.  This is important because in Japan, if you join a company, you are expected to stay with that company and she is clearly not ready to make that sort of commitment, but she also isn't sure she doesn't want to.

She is helping Nakamura sort and get his shirts and stuff ready to ship out to his customers. She wants to know how he figured out what to do with his life and how he decided what path to go on.

He says – he didn’t really know what he wanted to do either and he is muddling along. He has sponsors and a summer job and his business which does ok. He’s not shooting for the moon. He’s doing ok.    80% is enough.

That’s when he starts talking about giving 80%.  "Giving 100% is exhausting, but by giving 80% I feel like you can go pretty far."  He didn't want to commit to one thing you may not like. So - give 80%.

The segment is at the 25 minute mark:

Brilliant!  I feel the same way - I don't want to give 100%. I want to have a life. I want to spend time with my kid. I want to have friends. I like going to the movies. I like having a life. Giving 110% or even 100% to a job, leaves no room for anything else.

This is one of the things I liked about my husband. He told me – he’s never going to be fabulously wealthy. He does ok but he has no drive to do the work to be super wealthy. 80% is enough. That’s why I married him.  I feel the same way.

I admire people who give 100%, but I'm ok not being one of them.  It's ok. You can actually go pretty far giving 80%.  I'm proof of that.

Professionalism as a cure for VUCA

I can live with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. What I have trouble with is clarity.

VUCA is a new-ish buzz word. It means Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. learning how to cope with VUCA helps you - cope and therefore be more successful.

I don't think I have a problem with VUCA. What I have a problem with is clarity.  I am ok with the struggles inherent in trying accomplish something. I expect things to change and be uncertain and to be more complex then original thought. I plan for that to happen.
What frustrates me to no end, to the point I'll lose my cool - is lack of clarity.  If there is not a clear understanding of what we are trying to accomplish and how we have decided to accomplish it - then getting through the difficulties - is impossible.

Without clarity - I have no clue on how to proceed to overcome the obstacles because I have no basis on which to judge - what a good solution to the problem is. I can live with volatility and uncertainty. I can't fix what is wrong though, without clarity.

I had a moment of clarity the other day. I have been working with an individual who is absolutely crappy about providing clarity. Most of the time I have no idea what they want me to do, how they want me to do it, when they want me to do it by or what resources I might be given to do the work that was vaguely suggested needs to be done. 

To me - this lack of clarity feels like lack of professionalism. If you ask me to participate in a meeting, but won't tell me when the meeting is, where it is, what the meeting is about, why we are having the meeting and what you hope comes out of the meeting, then, I can't participate in the meeting. This is basic stuff.

Which is why I have been thinking about the need for clarity as it relates to VUCA. We can't control everything, but we can at least provide clarity on what we want to have happen. To me, this is what it means to be a professional.

A professional works to make sure everyone is at least clear on what the objectives are, what the plan is, when we plan to do whatever it is and what resources we are going to use and who is responsible for what.

If I have a professional relationship with someone – the thing that gets us through the difficulties caused by volatility and ambiguity and what gives us the confidence to work together through the complexity – is having clarity on what it is we are trying to accomplish. Who is responsible for what etc.

To me – clarity is what helps makes getting through VUCA doable. It’s what reduces my stress. 

When I strive to be professional - this is what I am trying to do. Whether I think of other people as professional or not - has to do entirely with how well they create clarity and therefore confidence in myself and others.

I'm curious whether anyone else feels the same way I do about what it means to be a professional.

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