Listening to the Voice of the People

People matter most in the digital age

I've been fortunate to focus my attention on helping organizations shape intentional thriving culture at this point in my life and career. It boils down to the emotional experience People have at work. Do People matter, really?

More and more, organizations are realizing that People matter most in the digital age as the true source of organizational agility and prosperity. It's a paradox isn't it? In the digital age People (Humans) matter most. Machines cannot replicate human creativity and collaboration bringing new ideas and capabilities to life and speeding them to market.

Shaping a culture where People thrive unleashing their productive capacity individually and collectively (as a Community) is the key. Do you want to increase your organization's speed, agility, productivity, innovation, and resilience? Look to your People and unlock their potential by getting and staying culturally fit.

The great tension - Investors | Customers | Employees. Where does Leadership place the accent? In the past, Investor interest ruled and People were mere resources, treated as necessary cogs in the Machine. This was true since all that was needed were hands, not minds. Engineer the Machine that produces the financial return. People executed finely defined tasks as steps in finely defined processes. That someone else, other than the People doing the tasks, designed. People followed the steps and rules designed by others.

This philosophy has led to a dismal state of People (employee) engagement at work (according to Gallup it is stuck at 33%, 67% are passively or actively disengaged). Wow, what a state of affairs recognizing that in the digital age it's the human mind that powers the Machine. A culture transformation has to occur giving Voice to the People. Key to this is that Leaders need to listen and act.

The scope of what needs to be listened to recognizes the interplay of Emotional Intelligence and Enablement – the DNA of a thriving, flourishing culture.

The focus in the past, and I dare say currently, has been on Enablement - (read) the Machine. Human needs of safety, belonging, purpose, achievement, empowerment, growth, and esteem have been ignored. Maslow had it right.

We are witnessing a transformation with organizations waking up to the needs that People have at work to give their best, as individuals and together, as teams.

How do you listen to the Voice of the People? You need a listening device, right? Click here if you need one that reveals the extent to which their (human) needs are satisfied at granular enough levels to be actionable. Then act. Listen to the Voice of the People and act on it. Both are important. One can listen and not act which breeds frustration and human disengagement.

A thriving culture is shaped top-down, but realized bottom-up, at the operating Team level, where work and human interaction take place. This is where listening needs to occur surfacing the emotional experience of People at work.

Will Leadership really listen and act? What this really means is that they need to understand, embrace, model, and act (continuously) on the drivers of the human emotional experience at work. Culture is not once and done, it needs continuous care and feeding. Entropic forces will set in otherwise.

If you are a Leader you already know you hold the key to creating an environment that satisfies the needs of People.

Turn the key, listen, and act.

Your People are waiting and will thank you for it!

Frank Wander

Frank Wander, a former CIO, is the founder and CEO of PeopleProductive (, and the author of Transforming IT Culture, How to Use Social Intelligence, Human Factors and Collaboration to Create an IT Department That Outperforms (Wiley, 2013). This unique book is the first operator’s manual for human infrastructure and will help you successfully transform your leadership style and organization.

PeopleProductive has taken that concept to the human side of the enterprise. We similarly help you find, measure and fix a broad spectrum of behavioral, emotional and enablement issues. For the first time, you can eliminate the inefficiency that holds highly productive people back and measurably increase productivity.

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