Human-centric approach

A human-centered approach, also known as a people-centered approach or human-centric approach, is a problem-solving methodology that places the needs, desires, and experiences of individuals at the core of the decision-making process. It involves deeply understanding the perspectives and challenges of the people for whom a solution is being designed and tailoring the approach to meet their specific needs and aspirations.

In a human-centered approach, empathy is a key driver. The fourth of the TIGERS 6 Principles for collaborative leadership and work culture development, empathy actively seeks to put the problem solver in the shoes of the intended users. The other five TIGERS Principles are trust, interdependence, genuineness, risk resolution and success.

A human-centered approach in action

Alex is a young software engineer in an IT department in a large US company.   Alex had always been passionate about technology and coding, but he felt something was wrong with his team.

One day, during a team meeting, Alex noticed a lack of open communication and collaboration among his colleagues. The atmosphere felt tense, and team members seemed to be working in silos, rarely seeking input from others. This led to misunderstandings, delayed projects, and a general sense of disconnection within the team.

Feeling concerned, Alex decided to take a human-centered approach to address the team behavior issues. He believed that by fostering a more empathetic and collaborative environment, they could unlock their true potential as a high-performing team.

Alex’s human-centered approach

Alex started by having one-on-one conversations with his teammates, genuinely listening to their concerns, and understanding their perspectives. He learned that some team members were feeling overwhelmed with their workloads, while others struggled with balancing personal and professional responsibilities. Although their work served employees on the manufacturing floor, they worked from a desk and computer and could easily do their work from home.

Empathizing with his colleagues’ challenges, Alex proposed the idea of implementing flexible work hours and remote work options. He believed that this would not only reduce stress but also improve work-life balance, leading to happier and more engaged team members.

When Alex presented the idea to the team leader, there was initial resistance. However, he persisted and provided concrete examples of other successful companies that had implemented similar policies. He also highlighted how this change would align with the company’s focus on employee well-being and its commitment to creating a positive work culture.

Seeing Alex’s passion and thoughtful approach, the team leader agreed to pilot the flexible work hours and remote work options. Alex and his teammates worked together to set clear guidelines and expectations for communication and collaboration, ensuring that the team remained connected despite the remote work setup.

As weeks passed, team members began sharing their knowledge more freely, seeking each other’s input, and collaborating on projects. The once tense team meetings turned into lively brainstorming sessions filled with enthusiasm and creativity. The improved team behavior led to increased productivity, faster project delivery, and a higher level of customer satisfaction.

Alex’s story emphasizes that even a single employee can ignite positive change and create a workplace where everyone feels valued, connected, and empowered to thrive.

The power of a human-centered approach to spark engagement

A human-centered approach, when applied in business, is a powerful driver of employee engagement and action. This is especially true when it comes to improving team behavior. By prioritizing the needs, experiences, and emotions of employees, this approach fosters a positive and supportive work environment, which, in turn, leads to increased engagement and proactive efforts to enhance team behavior.

Here’s nine examples of how a human-centered approach drives employee engagement and action.

Empathy and Understanding

A human-centered approach starts with empathizing with employees’ feelings, perspectives, and challenges. When employees feel understood and valued, they are more likely to engage in the process of improving team behavior. They feel that their voices are heard and their opinions matter, leading to a greater sense of ownership and commitment to collective goals.

Inclusivity and Collaboration

A human-centered approach emphasizes inclusivity and collaboration. Employees are encouraged to actively participate in discussions, problem-solving, and decision-making regarding team behavior. This sense of involvement empowers employees to contribute their ideas and suggestions, fostering a culture of openness and cooperation.

Clear Communication

Transparent communication is a key aspect of a human-centered approach. Leaders and team members openly share information about the team’s goals, progress, and challenges. This level of transparency builds trust and reduces misunderstandings, allowing employees to align their efforts with team objectives.

Continuous Feedback and Recognition

In a human-centered approach, feedback is not limited to formal performance evaluations but becomes an ongoing process. Regular feedback and recognition for individual and collective efforts provide employees with a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue working towards improved team behavior.

Growth and Development

A human-centered approach prioritizes the growth and development of employees. Opportunities for skill development, training, and learning are provided to support employees in enhancing their teamwork, communication, and leadership skills.

Support during Challenges

When challenges arise in improving team behavior, a human-centered approach ensures that employees receive the necessary support and resources. This support helps employees navigate difficulties and encourages them to persevere in their efforts to create a positive team environment.

Celebration of Progress

A human-centered approach acknowledges and celebrates progress and positive changes in team behavior. Recognizing and celebrating small wins creates a positive atmosphere and reinforces desired behaviors.

Alignment with Personal Values

A human-centered approach connects team behavior improvements with employees’ personal values and aspirations. When employees see the alignment between their values and team objectives, they are more motivated to actively contribute to positive changes.

Focus on Well-Being

Employee well-being is central to a human-centered approach. By considering the holistic well-being of employees, including physical, emotional, and mental health, this approach creates a conducive environment for improved team behavior.

Human-centered workforce initiatives and putting people first drives employee engagement and action when it comes to improving team behavior and work outcomes by emphasizing empathy, collaboration, clear communication, feedback, growth, support, and alignment with personal values. When employees feel supported, valued, and engaged in the process of enhancing team behavior, they are more likely to take proactive action and contribute to a positive and high-performing team culture.

Putting people first when solving problems like Alex did is a logical and compassionate approach. It leads to more relevant, engaging, and sustainable solutions, fostering innovation, trust, and positive social impact. By understanding and empathizing with users, problem solvers can create meaningful and transformative solutions that make work and the world a better place.

Care to take this conversation on the human-centered approach deeper?

The following resources empower you with tools and resources to build the human-centered approach in your organization or those you serve as a consultant:

Copyright TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

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