Humanistic Tendencies in Business

Your business is not a computer program and your employees aren’t robots

For a while, business management was seen as a technical job. In some cases it still is. This is the type of management where the task to be done is broken down into component parts so that a human or robot can do one little job and then it moves on to the next person/robot for the next little thing and this keeps happening until finally, all the little jobs are completed and the task is done.

This is a mechanical view of management and it has its uses.  The problem is that humans aren’t robots and the mechanical model can only improve productivity to a point.

Humanistic tendencies in business aren’t just a reaction to mechanical managing. It’s also about recognizing that humans matter. That the business is run by and for humans and that humans matter.

Humanistic tendencies in business help us to recognize that even as we automate our businesses, our companies are still essentially collections of people working together for a common cause. Your workers aren’t slaves. You don’t own them. They aren’t “resources” or robots. They are human just like you.

Managers who try to exercise power over workers as if they are slaves aren’t good managers. They have no idea how to lead and share power WITH their employees. The humanistic tendency is about respecting the autonomy of your workers and the creativity that comes with that autonomy. It’s a much more democratic and respectful approach.

Finally, the humanistic tendency in business is that our businesses aren’t just about generating money or capital. They are about using capital to help solve the real problems we face as a society. It is the rejection of greed as a governing value in business.

Humanistic tendencies in business value the business in terms of how well it helps humans thrive. All humans and not just those who own the company. This means that a humanistic business gives employees with meaningful work that provides a living wage. And no you can’t separate out the living wage issue from a humanistic approach to business because any wage that isn’t enough to live on creates societal problems and doesn’t fix them. If a business can’t afford to pay a living wage, from a humanistic perspective, it’s a failure because it’s is creating a net drain on society.

Is your company part of the solution? Or part of the problem? And if it’s part of the problem, what do you plan to do about it?

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