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The Path to Impact and Human Work

The longer it takes to land the new truths of the workplace and the longer we confuse matters with wooden language and desperation to establish proprietary frameworks, the further we are from performance. It’s that simple.

These new truths are:

  • 9-5 office time is not returning in tech. Move on.

  • People are not less productive at home. Stop it.

  • Performance is not possible in the absence of safety and happiness. Our people are in a crisis of engagement and of mental health. We have to fix this.

  • Leadership alone can’t install psychological safety. Modelling vulnerability, etc are all nice but have no cultural lasting effect if the teams themselves are not invested. Create autonomy, and empowerment and never tolerate command and control or blame.

  • No one will succeed who isn’t doing regular work on themselves and the teams. The Human Work.

Whoever thinks any of these are “nice to have” or a welcomed add-on is literally not going to make it because, with every passing sprint, the lack of teaming chips a bit more from the teams’ ability to do what is expected of them and both the tech and the human debts continue to grow.

The size of our HumanDebt is colossal. Genuinely. Ironically, the few places smart and courageous enough to attempt to quantify and then tackle it may well be the ones who have the least by virtue of how they realised its importance which puts them in the lead as compared to their counterparts.

And who are we supposed to enlist to help us do better? The ones who insist we double down on the process with no thought as to why it won’t seep into the DNA of the organisation already? The hundreds of consultants offering some more talking about it all - perhaps another course or training that will of course yield some short-term effects but end up making it worse on the whole of the HumanDebt because this tick-boxing exercise would have “spent” from the enterprise’s already minuscule appetite for work to do with our emotions, behaviours and humanity.

I myself deliver an EQ and PS Masterclass in addition to the work we do to democratise our installations with new clients so I am not dissing any form of awareness-building, far be it from me, but above and beyond “raising awareness” we have to DO something. And that doing has to be around insisting we do the Human Work.

Look - all of us in technology know we have been spared of the “cringe human bits” for too long and we bought one too many cutesy-ironical “I hate people” mugs to sit on our desks and that this self-imposed isolation, while cosy and conducive to strikes of programming genius and bouts of being in flow and in the zone, it also means we become more and more insular and are part of the silos-creation problem ourselves. That sooner or later we’re gonna have to perfect our so-called “soft skills”. That we have to learn not to dread interactions. That we have to religiously be honest and open and how doing that involves active communication, yes.

If you think of development as the bit that happens between when the client’s needs are communicated and when something is created and can be tested then indeed it can/would be an activity done in isolation by the developers only but is that Agile? Or even wise? Are we perhaps avoiding admitting how these bookends that cause us so many sleepless nights would need us all to communicate and interact with better behaviours? If we want developers not to think of their segment as the bit in between but take responsibility for what they create end-to-end then we need to empower them to genuinely be teaming with these other functions in co-creation exercises and rituals. We have to make them understand and care about “impact”.

Mentioned by Google’s Aristotle project findings as a key success factor for high-performing teams, “impact” refers to “work that team members believe matters and creates change” and that should reflect in everything from developers being much closer to the consumer to be conscientious of not creating technical debt.

So where to start? At being honest.

We effed this “how to make people who work for us happy” ticket.

We also failed to communicate the “please be human at work, have emotions and interact with others in a human and empathic way, to ensure you do this you’ll have to be emotionally intelligent and emotionally invested” task. In fact, we somehow communicated that the opposite is true.

And maybe the biggest of all the issues? We failed to “sell” Agile in a way that sees most people genuinely comprehend and crave it. That needs genuine work.

Let’s face it, it’s time we put our hands up and cease to deny the existence of Human Debt. What then? Then we have to do “small” things that have an impact to start digging into this missing change.

These days we have two paths that we offer at PeopleNotTech to make developers’ lives easier and kit them with a Human Work Platform in the form of our Dashboard whilst they wait for the organisation to wake up:

  • The ISO 45001 refers to having Psychological Safety in the enterprise - it no longer is a thing the Accelerate reports may mention but is unfamiliar to HR but something they have to take seriously. Together with new partners, we designed an assessment to check how far your organisation is from satisfying what is an immensely intelligent growth-pushing and productive regulatory effort that recognises the workplace crisis. Considering that it incorporates Westrum’s Cultural Survey Index, Amy Edmondson’s initial Psychological Safety questions, Canada Life’s Mental Health resources and Verdant Consulting and PeopleNotTech’s extensive research in Resilience and Teaming including our Aristotle Score that benchmarks with the findings of the giant, this is the most advanced set to poll organisational culture in the same breath as testing the standard; and

  • We will soon launch a version of the software that empowers team leaders to buy it for their team before the organisation agrees or launches it at scale for a negligible monthly cost.

Between these two paths, no one needs to wait to start working on the Human Debt today even in places where there isn’t enough wisdom to focus on these topics at an enterprise level. But of course, either of those efforts still requires a visionary leader willing to make themselves unpopular by insisting on everyone doing the Human Work regularly.

So come talk to us. Or don’t but just don’t not do anything either, it’s high time.

<This article was originally published on the www. website >

At PeopleNotTech we make software that measures and improves the wellbeing and Psychological Safety of teams, come see a DEMO.

“Nothing other than sustained, habitual, EQed people work at the team level aka “the human work” done BY THE TEAM will improve any organisation’s level of Psychological Safety and therefore drop their levels of HumanDebt™.”

To order the "People Before Tech: The Importance of Psychological Safety and Teamwork in the Digital Age" book go to this Amazon link


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