Humans At Work is open for business
14 November 2008
Work is a human thing. Let’s treat each other that way.
I am excited, a little scared, and also feeling very satisfied on a deep level — because after many, many years of thought and more than two years of development, Humans At Work, LLC launches today.
I’ve talked about this before, but here’s a recap:
In my corporate life, I built and led teams, developed and managed process, facilitated meetings of 2 to 250 people, taught effective communication and effective meetings classes, served as a company ombudsperson, and learned everything I could about organizational development and dynamics.
And what I learned boils down to this: managing people is the most important job in business. And it’s the job that no one ever really teaches us to do.
Management is behavior. Itâs my experience that bad managers are not evil or insane; mostly, they just have no idea how to be good managers. When we get our first management job, no one sits us down and tells us that the most important thing we can do to be successful is to deal well with the other humans in the building â to communicate clearly, build relationships that help everyone be more effective, share information, collaborate on decisions with the people whose work will be affected, and give people control of how they do their jobs. No one teaches us how to do these things. If weâre lucky as managers, we eventually figure out how to be betterâ¦ generally at the expense of the people who work for us.
And so we’ve all got a Boss From Hell story (some of us have several). We all know the damage that bad managers do to the people they work with. And it’s not just people — business suffers too, because people who are badly managed become angry and disengaged and unproductive. That’s not good for anyone.
It doesnât have to be this way. It really doesnât. So Iâm going to change it.
I’ve developed an intensive training program called Humans At WorkSM. It teaches basic human management skills to new managers. I have never seen anything quite like it, and I think it’s solid and… well, it’s good. Not just that it’s put together well, but that it feels like I’m doing some good in the world by putting it out there.
Because here’s what I’m doing — think of it as the 21st century approach. First, I’ve written A Leader’s Manifesto, which describes the core skills of good managers, and gives me the chance to testify about why it matters to people and to business that every manager leads from those skills. The manifesto includes unabashed table-thumping and talk of revolution, very fun to write (and, I hope, to read). I hope the manifesto will spread far and wide around the internet, and that people will feel as passionate about its ideas as I do.
Second, I am making the entire Humans At WorkSM program content available free under a Creative Commons License — because I believe so strongly in these ideas that I want everyone to have access to them, whether they can afford to pay for the program or not. There are nearly 400 pages of lesson plans, teaching notes, tools, materials lists and tips for people to set up the program in their own companies. It costs a lot to have me teach the program — my time and my brain are not cheap to hire — but anyone who is willing to do the work themselves will be able to create their own version of the program (for non-commercial use). And I’m available as a consultant to help people do that at a lesser cost than a turnkey program.
I believe that enough people will respond to the ideas of Humans At WorkSM that there will be more than enough work for me. And if I’m wrong, then the ideas that I care about will still be out in the world helping people. No matter what happens with the business, it’s hard to think of that as failure.
My ambitious goal is that every working person on the planet reads the manifesto, becomes aware of the program, and finds at least one idea that helps them make their own work experience better. If you’d like to help with that, I’d be very grateful indeed — because the only way it happens is if people spread the word. So check out Humans At Work, and if you like what you see, please tell everyone — because everyone can benefit from what’s there.